City Child

It is Christmas in the park. Lights hang against the buildings, trees grace the windows of the neighborhood, and the world is coated in white dust. The geese have left, the trees are bare, but the people pour from their homes to fill the void. They sing and they dance and they share their gifts of warmth.

But my world is silent and cold. My world is alone.

I walk again. There is no place for me. They ask me where my parents are, but I don't want to say it. Not out loud.

"Where is your mom?" they ask.

"I don’t." I don’t have.

"Where is your dad?" they ask.

"I don’t." I don’t have.

The wind howls in the alleys of Pyreh. The attacks are at a standstill, but I still feel them. Only three days have passed, and everything is gone. Three days and my world is alone. I remember only the farthest back, and there I don't dare to trudge.

It is Christmas in the park -or so I think. But the lights are not there. The people are not there. There is no color in the world but the swirling dots that detach themselves from the buildings and fill my vision. I don’t cry out because it doesn't hurt. It only folds its wings around me, and the cold leaves, and I too leave.

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"We found him huddled with this," Dyran noted, holding up a beaten teddy bear. He motioned toward the trash bin, but the other figure shook his head. "What's wrong, Blue? Can't toss out a child's toy?"

"It might be necessary for emotional support," the man hissed in response.

Dyran was quiet for a bit before muttering,"It's filthy."

They were both stooped over the pale child, unsure of what actions to take. "Is he dead?" Dyran asked again, and Blue pointed to his rising and falling chest. Indeed, the child was breathing, and thus he still had life in him. "Then is he hurt?"

"Could have died of hypothermia-"

"No kidding." They were quiet again. "Well? Do your thing."

"My 'thing'?" growled the man. He tapped his fingers against the wall in agitation. Little pieces of crusted dirt fell off. "I checked him for fever, I checked his vital signs, his heart is fine, his breathing a little weathered. What else do you expect me to do? I'm not a doctor." Dyran said something about waking him up. "And why do you think he's sleeping, mm? He'll be recovering, I assume."

"Well, I need to get." Dyran scratched his scalp, tossing his blond hair into little ruffles. "You just send for me if you hear anything about the Searching and all. So what if it's been three days since the last? I'm not taking any chances. Tch, no way."

Before Blue could utter a useless protest, his acquaintance had left him. He took to staring at the boy now wrapped in thick bed sheets. It was cold. The room they were in was comprised of mere bricks, nothing to provide insulation. He touched the boy's forehead again, just to make sure, and rested his palm on the child's chest. Still moving. Still good.

He mumbled something inaudible and crossed his legs. The child would be safe. Soon his eyes would awaken and he would begin unraveling the new ordeal. Perhaps there was hope, even in this desolate, sickening city.

*
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"Your hair," said a small voice. It flickered like a candle and was blown out again. Blue shook where he now rested his head against the floor. The stone was freezing. Slowly, he lifted himself from the ground and blinked, relieved and yet surprised that the boy had awakened.

"Y-yes?" Worried the boy might slip back into his sleep, Blue reached over and fixed the blankets. "It is a little silly, isn't it?" He fingered the portion of his black hair where a streak of icy blue sat. "I figured it was only suitable. My name is Blue, by the way. Blue Shard Areston."

"Blue," the child mumbled. His lips were still a tinge of blue around the edges. He shifted uncomfortably against the hard floor, the blankets barely enough insulation. "Blue Shard . . . Areston . . ." He looked up with questioning, bright green eyes. There was something curious about them. Something oddly innocent. He had forgotten what innocence looked like. "What am I?"

"Not 'what'. 'Who'." Blue bit his lip. "Who are you, indeed. Don't you remember anything?"

"I remember Christmas, and the lights." He closed his eyes tightly, trying to picture it. A wavering smile broke upon his face. "Oh, and the people. Singing and dancing and talking to me. Were you there too?"

Blue gave a worried chuckle. This kid is bonkers. Celebration? Singing? Lack of name? Must have lost his memory. Perhaps the cold meddled with his mind. Gave him a little hallucination. "Ah, no, I was not there. You must be mistaken," he attempted to explain. "The Searchers do not allow anything like celebration to happen while they're in charge. Do you recall anything about the Searchers?"

"Searchers . . . search . . ." The boy fingered his teddy uncertainly.

"Alright, alright. It's quite understandable if you can't." A lie. Presenting his best false smile, Blue inched toward the blankets and pulled one over himself. Any longer and he would surely die in the frost. "For the time being, you need to be called something. Then we'll figure out how much you do remember."

"Can I be Blue, also?"

"No. That's my name. You look like a Gregory to me, but since we can, we ought to choose something heroic, don't you agree?"

The nameless one shrugged. He seemed to be content with anything.

"What do you think of Tharagorich?" said Blue, thinking of their recently assassinated king. The boy grinned at the name, and it almost stuck, but he could not nearly pronounce it correctly, and they chose again. "Well, you wouldn't want a name like Dyran. That's an idiot name -for an idiot person, if you ask me. Does Vyktor suit you? No, too . . . something. Not right."

"I want to be called Red, then." The comment was ignored.

"Eron," said Blue, happy with his choice. "Do you like the name Eron? It is from the mythical tale of Thadwich Eron, one who wields the sword of ice. And there was the battle between he and Suraj Katchs. You don't remember this story, do you? I presume you hadn't heard of it beforehand anyway."

Eron smiled. "I do like the name."

"Of course you do. I'm glad of that. Now, we must properly introduce ourselves. Introductions are the most important part of meeting someone. It's when they decide if they like you or not." The man winked and held out his hand. "My name is Blue. It is a great pleasure to meet you."

"My name is Eron," replied the child, "and it is also a pleasure to meet you." He paused for a moment, tasting a question on his tongue before spitting it out. "Do you like me then?"

Blue chuckled and nudged the boy, now named, on his shoulder. "I think so."

A large smile erupted onto his face, and Eron seemed illuminated with joy. It seemed that he had been holding in the question since he had awoken. "I'm very glad," he answered, shaking Blue's hand. "I think I like you also."





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