My Shadow, Death

Some people are afraid to die, others embrace it; and then you have Noah who has known the shadowy cloak of Death for all too long. His life has been plagued by it, soaked in it to the point where not only does Noah feel nothing towards the subject; he is willing to become it.

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3. Innocence Is a Funny Thing

   Four deaths now, my life was becoming seemingly enraptured by such events; it was becoming more and more evident of that fact. When I think back on it though it isn't really surprising, but still... It is a bit chilling. A six year old who had a friend who died, who after he died slowly slipped back into isolation and melancholy. People began talking about who the child, being me, was displaying signs that I had been robbed of my innocence. 

   "What is innocence?" I thought to myself once. "What is this 'thing' that apparently had been robbed from me without my knowing?" My little mind was spinning with such thoughts to the point where I felt that it might burst spilling my inner thoughts all about for others to see. The pain, oh the pain was both unbearable but strangely soothing at the same time. 

   I can feel the cool darkness beginning to enclose around me like someone was laying a piece of black satin silk on top of me. I... can't feel much anymore... and my vision... is.. fading. So this is what dying feels like; I can see why most people fear it, but not me, no I welcome it.

   "Noah," the figure in the darkened corner whispered. "It's not too late, we can still get you to the hospital... please..."

   "No, I'm fine," I coughed out between mouthfuls of thick, rich and viscous blood. "Unlike you, I want to meet the shrouded man, and this time he won't escape me." 

   "Then keep talking about the past, we need to keep you conscious," he replied with a quiver in his voice. I nodded in agreement and continued.

**************

So I found myself now in middle school, the year was 1906 now and I had turned 10 years old. However i wasn't the little strange kid I was in first and second grade, no in third grade I began to open up again and by fourth grade I had a small circle of friends to call my own. By middle school i was for the most part 'normal' if that's what you want to call it. 

   "Noah! Hey Noah!" it was Aaron's voice that was calling me as I walked towards the door out of the building after another day of school. I stopped and waited for him to catch up. He was about my height with short  and bouncy blond hair. He had kind of a squeaky voice that had a habit of cracking. He had deep blue-grey eyes that when he looked at you I could swear he was peering into a person's very soul. Generally he was a nice kid, but he could be tough if need be; after all he was the one who bailed me out of a fight once.

   "Aaron," i responded with a half blank expression; this was a normal occurrence with me. I never truly smiled, not since way back when Zach left me. Aaron caught up quickly and playfully slapped a hand onto my shoulder. His smile was a genuine smile of innocence, huh, there's that word again. 

   "Hey, you in there?" Aaron called, breaking my train of thought. I gave him a meek smile, a false smile like I gave everybody else and answered.

   "Yeah, I'm in here," I replied knocking my left hand lightly against my own head. It was these little things that got people to accept me, these little actions that made them laugh, made them smile, made them... like me. 

   "Hey, um not to bother you..." he started, shifting his feet a little on the tile floor.

   "But..." I waited.

   "Can I spend the day with you?" he finished, his eyes reconnecting with mine. Those eyes, as I said before feel like he's starring at your very soul and right now he was piercing mine. "Please, can I? I promise I won't be a bother to you or your family."

   "Alright," I finally answered. I couldn't say no to him, he was my best friend, he was the first person to open up to me since Zach. I knew why he didn't want to go home too, it was rather sad. He suddenly wrapped me in a tight hug, his hair falling onto my face, and covering his as well. I just stood there for a minute or two, just taking in the moment, it felt... well it felt nice in a way, but bittersweet in another.

   "We should get going," I finally whispered, pushing free from his grasp. "We have a bit of a walk ahead of us." He acknowledged me and together we began the long trek home. From where the school where I was going to now, it was about an hour's walk home on mostly level ground with a minor graded hill just before getting to the house.

   "Oh Aaron, nice to see you," came my mother's voice as we arrived home. She heard us come in and so she called to us as we wandered by the kitchen.

   "Oh hello Mrs. Riley," he answered cordially as we walked by. My friend adored my mother and she never knew why, but I don't think she minded. I, on the other hand knew exactly why, his family was a wreck. We wandered into my room at the end of the hall, plopped our rucksacks at the foot of my bed and then ran outside to play. We played hide and seek in our neighbor's wheat field, it was interesting because not only did we have to hide from each other, but we also had to be listening for the rustle of the wheat being pushed about by the farmer who... let's just say he didn't like the idea of boys messing up his field by playing games. Finally after about an hour or so we ran back to the house. We thundered down to my room, where i promptly closed the door so we could talk; I knew that's what was to come next.

   "Well... That was... fun," Aaron panted between breaths. He proceeded to flop onto my bed, and suck in air as his lungs tried to replenish his body's depleted air supply. He just lay there, with his eyes shut, resting quietly. Finally he sat up, "Hey Noah, can I borrow a shirt, this one's all sweaty and sticky."

   "You tell me that after I let you lay on my clean sheets?" I responded smiling, as I threw him a shirt from my bureau. Again, we were of similar size and build, he had slightly broader shoulders than I, but I was a little taller than he. He smiled, and began to remove his shirt, it was he stood up to finish removing it that I noticed the fresh scar on his right side. His poor, young body had plenty of bruises, scars, cut marks strewn across it; punishment from a drunk welder of a father. I couldn't help myself, I gently ran my forefinger along the length of the fresh scar.

   "Ah," he winced, "That hurts Noah," he let out a sigh of pain and anguish. He lay back on the bed, shirtless letting me examine the wound.

   "Your father's at it again I see," I examined, continuing to run my finger up and down the wound. Normal people would never let me do a thing like this to them, but Aaron did, he said when ever I touched one of his wounds it felt better afterwards. This first happened after we scrapped up our knees pretty bad one day and after mom had cleaned and bandaged us up I began to rub my knees with my hands. Seeing this he asked me if it actually helped, I replied yes and so he put my hands on his knees and I went from there.

   "Yeah, came home drunk and he tried to slash mum," he answered. "I got in the way."

   "Your mom should just throw him out," I answered, now lightly rubbing the wound.

   "Boys!" My mother called, "Dinner!" 

   "Let's go," Aaron responded,slipping on the shirt I lent him. "We can talk more later." I felt bad for him, he was still young and yet, he'd been through so much within the period of a few years; if anybody had been robbed, or was being robbed of their innocence, it was definitely Aaron.

 

 

 

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