• April 17, 2006 at 2:20 am #1987

    It was still dark outside, particularly as the ever-present fog that permeated the velvet skies of London was in thick bloom and blocking out any remnants of stars and moonlight that might else have been seen. But despite the darkness, a certain feeling trickled through the air, bringing the promise that a new dawn would, indeed, come, and soon, and bring with it the hustle and bustle of the city streets as people went about their day, earning their hard-won bread.

    Most people, at least.

    For Minnow?s part, when the daylight came, it would find him sleeping ? or attempting to, at any rate ? for his trade was best plied at night, away from prying eyes. Not that he?d been engaging in it much, as of late. Spending two weeks hospitalized, followed by some time spent in Roland?s body, and now the waking nightmare of Lucian?s death, had all combined to keep him from doing much apart from spending his waking hours attempting to drown himself in a drunken stupor, despite the protests from Egeria, and, supposedly, Lucian himself.

    But could anyone really fault him for his misery? Lucian had been more than his best friend ? he had owed Sparrow his life, and a life?s debt wasn?t something a man like Minnow took lightly. Lucian had also been a mentor and guide to Minnow, keeping him safe and helping him adjust to a reality that was foreign to him ? not because of his ethnicity, but because he hadn?t been able to remember anything about himself, or who he was, or had been.

    Now he was lost at sea without any tethers to hold him back, or any lines to follow back to land. Jillian had declared her hatred for him, for both of them, and Lucian could only be spoken to through Egeria?s generosity in sharing of her gift.

    For at least the second time in his life, Minnow was quickly losing everything that was familiar and comforting to him, everything that was a part of who he was, everything that made him, him. It was worse, this time, though, as he knew that it was happening, could remember all of it. The first time (at least, what he assumed was the first time), had been easier ? how could you really miss or regret something you couldn?t remember having happened? How could you suffer a loss of your identity when you couldn?t remember what it was? And Lucian and Jillian had taken him in, helped him, become a family to him. And despite how harsh their lives had been, barely scraping by on what they could claw and scratch away from others, they had been happy enough together, the three of them. Yet now, that was quickly evaporating, deteriorating into an emptiness that was sucking away the remnants of the identity he?d created.

    Who was he? Who was he, really? Minoru Hidari?the name still meant nothing to him. All he held onto from his former life was that meaningless name, and a pair of swords whose true meaning was most likely lost upon him. Who, then, was he, when the identity given to him by his parents ? whoever they were ? was meaningless, having been taken away from him, and when the identity he?d created for himself along with Sparrow and Pigeon was crumbling into nothingness. Even had he remembered where he?d come from, what his past had been, would it really have mattered? Perhaps the experiences that someone accumulates through their life defines a part of them, but how much of one?s identity exists due to their past, their actions, how much due to memory? How much due to how others perceive you, and how much due to your own perceptions of yourself? Was there, ultimately, a difference between the identity ascribed to one by oneself and those around them, and their inherent, given personality? What role was played by birth, and what by life experience?

    And, perhaps even more importantly, did any of that matter? Was there a point to it, to any of it? Surely there had to be something of value in life, other than death, some greater goal to which to aspire. There had to be. If the only point of life was to die, then why go on living? With all of the dreadful things that occurred, all of the pain, sorrow, and suffering, surely there must be some good, too, something that could come from the constant struggle to survive with some shred of dignity and beyond all the misery.

    No, he couldn?t believe that this was true; that what Arrolin had said held any merit whatsoever. There had to be something more. If there wasn?t?

    He wondered, then, why Lucian?s spirit had remained somewhere in between worlds, instead of going somewhere else. He would have to ask Egeria about that sometime, ask her if she knew, or if she could find out. If Lucian would even still be there, now. Perhaps he?d moved on by now, or perhaps given Minnow?s seeming failure to right anything with Jillian, Lucian wouldn?t even allow him the little comfort received by knowing there were ways for him to contact his departed friend.

    The sun was slowly beginning to rise, and with it, the tendrils of fog that blanketed the sky began to retreat, evaporating and disappearing in the light as though they were ghosts, unable to sustain themselves in the brightening face of the day. Signs of life began to show themselves, squirrels scurrying and rustling through the trees and across the ground, birds waking and flittering from branch to branch, chirping mockingly at him.

    Perhaps it was odd, but if anything, things seemed worse to him in the light than in the dark right now. There had always been something warm and welcoming, something comforting to him about the dark. It concealed, and he had learned to wrap it around himself like a shroud, to allow its arms to embrace him like a lover ? it was in the dark that he lived, and where he thrived. The Rooks all had, all three of them. By darkness they could eke out what living they were able, and, like the fog, when morning came, they made their retreat. Living ghosts, perhaps, in their way.

    And yet, now Lucian was no longer living, only the ?ghost? part applied. Being half there already, maybe it would be for the best if Minnow were to join him. Yet even as the thought crossed his mind, he knew he would be unable to do anything to bring that about. Perhaps he would become more reckless than before without anyone to hold him back, but that had naught to do with a death wish of any kind. Minnow didn?t believe in a god, not in the strictest sense; it was hard to when you lived a life like his, fighting for every day on the streets. Still, he wanted some sign. Something that would say that it mattered, that life mattered, that his life mattered. Something that would say there was a point to it all beyond living and dying.

    A bird flew down from a branch somewhere behind him and dive-bombed him, smacking its beak into the back of his head, before flying off again. He raised a hand, rubbing at the place it had hit him, and stared at it as it flew to perch atop another tree, where it stared back, chirping chidingly at him, it seemed. His eyes slowly began to widen.

    It was a sparrow.

    April 17, 2006 at 2:40 pm #2578
    Jeff Crowley

    Good. Hopefully he'll listen now. dolt.

    Nice post.

    Watch out for those birdies.

    April 18, 2006 at 9:20 am #2579

    Aw, poor Minnow. ::sniff::

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