By Raph al Guul
An indeterminate amount of time after a violent separation, two old souls in young bodies with a long shared past meet again by chance. The encounter espouses no sense of euphoria. Rather, a deep sadness permeates the ensuing conversation:
Why’d you run away? I miss you.
I didn’t run away from you. You were the only part I liked.
But I couldn’t keep you there?
You made the everyday dread bearable – good medicine is not a reason to stay sick.
And you’re not grateful for that?
I am very grateful for that. You may have saved my sanity. It felt like my life had to be kept secret until you came along.
Well, in that case again: Why’d you run away? That hurt me. Don’t you miss it too?
I did not do it to hurt you. And I do miss it. But it was not my place to take you with me. You have your own, different battles to fight and it is up to you how you do it and with whom by your side.
And the crucial difference is that you can deal with…
You can deal with family. That was my main battle you helped me with. You can’t just take one template and put it on our individual struggles.
You and I are family.
No we are not.
Of course we are, you’re my brother. We have the same parents, the same siblings…
I have no family. Family is nothing. What connects you and me are experiences, sympathies, attitudes. I’d rather you call me friend than brother. I love you like a sister but that’s just coincidence. To suggest there was a connection between our biological and personal relationship would be an insult to what we have been through together.
Then why won’t you come back? You say it’s nothing, why should it still bother you?
To go back is to either regress or to attack those who have not progressed.
Like your own parents.
They think I am part of it.
They desperately want you to be.
But on their terms – that’s why it means nothing to me. They’re asking me to make shadow puppets. And I just can’t.
You mean you’re too proud to do it.
Perhaps what you’re seeing as pride is my strife to be true to myself. There was a time when I didn’t know how to do that. You should remember that time, you were there. And you should remember how bad it was for me.
So I’ve helped you stand by yourself – and the result is, I’m losing you?
Only for a while, I would guess.
From now until the end of the war.