Hello, Láquesis from the Moiras writing in once again.
This piece has no summary, as I think the title works well on its own, however, a list of trigger
warnings are needed for this entry, as it may not be suitable for all readers and audiences.
> Descriptions of child neglect through the child's eyes.
> Descriptions of child abuse (physical, mental and psychological).
> Depictions of drug use (not consenting)
> Descriptions entailing blood, gore, assassination and death.
Reader discretion is advised, if there is any other warning I should add do not hesitate to let
Thank you for reading and for your time, enjoy.
White adorned the city, every window sill now supporting dazzling dames that would melt away in a couple of months. Trees had new coats, streets replaced their usual green leaves and grass with elegant white peaks and hills and the sky knew no blue, just grey.
Despite that, there are people. They laugh, they huff, and they move in every direction possible, making it impossible to know their destination. There are people, and they’re strange, strange in the way they walk and hold onto each other, play with one another or laugh about something only they know about. The city outside of his tower is strange.
It was cold, so cold Jeongwon could see puffs of white escaping his lips and nose. He can feel a cold breeze making its way inside his clothes, from his collar and the hem of his sleeves. A beanie, surely his father's, is placed on his small head, covering more than it should be due to its size. He doesn’t take it off.
He walks careful steps, feeling his feet give in to the ice on the asphalt, making it impossible to get anywhere if you’re in a hurry. Not unless you really like the idea of bruises and broken bones at least.
The woman that keeps his father company is with him, she’s always cold, just like him. She walks with practised motions, her short hair never out of place, and her lips have nothing to envy out of a straight line. Jeongwon likes her, nonetheless, she takes him on walks, reminds him of anything he might forget, and keeps him hidden when his father doesn’t sound particularly friendly.
His father is so confusing, in a way he can’t really point out. He has this charisma to him, he’s always charming, and overly polite with anyone and everyone. That man thrives on never slacking, never letting anything slip, Jeongwon swears that it’s as if he knows everything far before the kid has a chance to analyse it.
Jeongwon doesn’t know how he does it, but he wants to. Just like him, he wants to be able to stand up straight, to never flinch at the thought of a needle and never frown at a minor inconvenience. He wants to be smart, like his father, he wants to be bigger, stronger, and faster.
He wants to be better.
“Jeongwon, we’re here” The woman says. What’s her name? He doesn’t remember, doesn’t recall ever hearing it, he’s asked, but she never answers.
They’re at a park, it’s empty aside from the snow and trees, and he’s sure he’s supposed to be doing something, except he doesn’t know what.
He looks at the woman and waits for her signal, for her command. She gives it to him, hand open as she signals at the scenery.
He walks forward, soft thuds are heard as he walks over the snow, the texture is weird under his boots, never quite sitting right to him. It’s like sand, maybe, but thick and weird, it burns when he puts his hands on it, too.
When something falls on his nose, he quickly swats at it, noticing how cold his entire face is. He tries moving his lips or cheeks, but they’re numb unless he does weird faces to heat them up. He looks at the woman, not far from where he is. She looks like a statue, her white coat and white skin nearly blending, her black hair moving in just the right way to avoid looking too messy.
“Is my nose red, miss?” he asks, his tone is gentle, not too loud but neither is it too quiet, just enough. Just like he was taught, enough.
She nods, and then speaks, her voice as firm and sturdy as earth. “It does that when it’s cold” He notices an accent on her words, and he finds it interesting.
“I’m like Rudolf” he says, without thinking much.
She nods slowly. “I guess you could say that”
He hums and goes back to trying to understand how to play with snow.
When they leave, there’s a drawing of a smiley face under a tree.
The woman isn’t there anymore, not with him, at least.
She stays by his father’s side, talking about things he can’t understand and naming people he doesn’t know nor wants to. He hears them talking every morning, her voice sounding nearly robotic, his voice sounding like the dark depths of places Jeongwon doesn’t want to be in.
He walks alone now, eats alone, and stays alone.
His room is big to his eyes, bigger now that there’s no one taller than him. It’s cold, too, but not in a way that makes his nose red. The walls are dark blue, nearly grey, he stares at them like there’s something wrong with them. His desk looks out of a magazine, the ones he sees left forgotten at the park or random benches, the ones that look too perfect to even touch them.
Jeong spends most of his days seated on his desktop, dangling his legs and looking at the ceiling, it resembles the sky but there’s nothing in it, and when the sun goes down it looks like it’ll suck him into the darkness. His room is big, but as he starts gaining inches and changing his wardrobe, he wonders if it’s big or just too empty.
“What are you doing, son?”
He turns around and faces a small man, he’s old and grey colours his hair. His face has more wrinkles than he thought possible, and he resembles more a shrimp than a pole with his stance. Jeongwon straightens his back, suddenly too aware of his pose.
The man has a plastic thread between his fingers, expertly interlocked in them. He sees the old man pull on the string without realising it, force of habit perhaps.
“Looking at the sea, sir” He starts taking off his gloves, unbuttoning the strap and pulling it off by one of its fingers. “I’m Jeongwon” He presents himself, extending a hand for the man to take.
The man looks taken aback by his actions, but takes his hand with a wide grin on his lips.
The pier is cold and lonely this time of the year, not many try fishing or swimming here either. Waves crash against the rocks with force, foam leaking into their every corner. Jeongwon finds it beautiful in a way he can’t quite describe.
“Well I’d be damned, you don’t have to be so formal with me kid, I’m nothing special”
“Hand me that bucket will you?” His antics are soon forgotten, and he reaches for the tin can object that has surely seen better days.
“What are you catching this season?”
“Nothing so far” The man answers, not looking at him. He takes the bucket and turns it around, sitting on it. He lets out a small trail of curses as he leans down.
“And yet you keep waiting?” With his gloves on again, his hands find their usual place on his back.
“Well, one has to be persistent, or else nothing’s gon’ get done!” He laughs at himself, and Jeong smiles politely at him. “Tell me, kid”
“What are you doing here?”
“I… think I don’t understand”
The man crosses his arms, and Jeong thinks that maybe he wasn’t supposed to answer that.
“Do you like the sea?”
“I like looking at it”
“Try diving in sometime, not now of course unless you’re a fan of sickness, but it's good for the body and soul you see”
Jeongwon frowns, unable to recall if his father ever taught him that. Then again, his father’s lessons don’t usually entail the soul. Lessons mean quarrels, at times, pain, most of the time in fact. Over and over again, his body has more green and violet on it than it has ever had in his entire life, and his hands have mastered the art of using and rearranging small guns that only bad guys in movies use to rob a store or bank.
“Is that so?”
“It is said it cleans all wrong”
“All… wrong?” He looks at the sea, infinite and profound, ever-moving, ever-changing. “How can you be so sure sir? If you don’t mind me asking”
“I’m not, hell, I’m not sure if I’m sure of anything really!” The man laughed again, Jeong assumes he didn’t understand the joke. When the chuckles die, the man inhales sharply, looking at the ocean before facing Jeongwon again. “Well, every time I come out of the water, it feels that way. You should try it, kid”
He makes sure to remember. Lately, his mind works better, faster even. Maybe this is what his father once called a Memory Palace.
He places this conversation on a shelf inside the palace, somewhere he can reach easily for later use.
He looks at the memory always, repeating it over and over until it makes him feel dizzy from doing so.
The sea cleans all evil.
How? He doesn’t know. He hopes he does, soon. Jeongwon goes every day he can to the shore, looks ahead, and tries to imagine how floating in the water might feel. He knows how to do it, but never brings himself to do it, not yet at least.
He’s waiting for something wrong, he assumes. He doesn’t know exactly what wrong and right mean anymore, he never did, but when he does he’ll come here and clean his hands, his mind and his body. Jeongwon knows, as he stands barefoot on the shore, that he will become evil, he will do the wrongs the man speaks about, he knows this because no one that does right exists the way he does, he’s seen it. He’s seen his father, hiding in the shadows, never allowing him to leave for long, never treating him like fathers are supposed to treat their sons.
He knows his father is evil, so he must be, or soon enough, he will be.
He does small chores for his father, taking his bike and delivering small gifts, packages as he calls them. He hands them to the people his father and the woman who no longer looks at him speak about. He leaves them on windows, on doorsteps, on mailboxes. He stays to look at their reaction, he wants to know what’s inside, what he’s forcing them to take.
They never look happy, not unless there’s a weird pull to their smile and their eyes are way too big from shock. They always look about to run away or cry, or even laugh hysterically. They look like they’ve never been more helpless, Jeong wonders if his face looks the same when he looks in the mirror, but he finds no feeling behind his eyes.
He feels needles digging into his skin, in his back. Taking a deep breath usually makes it better, but not today.
Today, the needles seem to press harder against his skin, making him feel weaker and numb. His father says it’ll help him soon, that he’ll soon learn if he’s strong enough. He’s asked him to be stronger, to be bigger, and the man always had the same answer until now.
“You will be soon enough, son”
Jeong doesn’t ask if he’ll ever be stronger than him, he knows the man wouldn’t allow it, knows it by the way he makes everyone kneel before him. Always a few inches taller, always a few steps above everyone who talked to him, always looking at them as if they were pieces of a puzzle he could rearrange at his will.
They are, Jeong realizes.
Whatever those needles gave him, it’s working.
He can feel himself moving faster, lighter. His hits can finally knock a mannequin down and his jumps and stunts make him feel satisfied. He feels himself improving, every day a little better, every day a little closer.
He looks at his father, but the man has the same soulless eyes he always has. It doesn’t matter.
Jeongwon is thirteen now, his mind is sharper and his moves are cleaner. He looks at the mirror and finds nothing but sheer determination.
The words echo in his mind.
One has to be persistent, or else nothing’s going to get done.
He gets spray paint from a forgotten bag he finds on one of his night walks. There are some cans inside, and he’s not sure how to use them exactly, or where, but he wants to.
Whenever his father isn’t home, he takes the bag out and draws open the windows of his room. He paints the blue walls with vibrant colours, fascinated by their harmony, or lack thereof.
He paints the walls pink and purple, paints them weird mixes of orange and red. He blends the colours as best he can with old blushes or scraps, paints and blends until he has to put on a mask to breathe properly.
There are no shapes in particular, just a constant, ever-changing sea of colourful waves. He swears they move from the corner of his eye. He swears the feels the thrust and thud of the water against his walls and furniture, he sees the colour splashing every bit of his room, until there’s suddenly no dark blue anymore.
There’s yellow, red and purple in a corner, there’s white and pink and all in between too.
There’s green, too.
Not the green that colours the park, or the green on street light poles or old basketball courts.
This green shines, bubbles even, effervescent of life and sparkling with no self-control.
This green he didn’t know about calls to him, makes his heart throb and his entire body sore. Makes him lightheaded the more he stares at it.
He likes this green, he discovers. Likes the way it makes him feel.
He has a mission now. His father expects it to be a success.
It becomes apparent it will be when his opponent, even if older, is far weaker than him. Jeong’s even scared of hurting her, or hitting her just too hard with his staff, or shooting at a part of her body that’ll leave her limp on the ground.
He’s scared, but it doesn’t compare to how terrified he feels when the static in his ears gets a little too loud, making his mind go blank and his neck twitch in ways he’s not used to.
He’s terrified of the man behind it, of his father, of the way that, without words or commands or eyes on the scene, guides him to the inevitable.
Cold blooms in his heart, spilling over his every muscle and bone. There’s a body in front of him as well as blood in his hands, that tremble as if his life depended on it. He’s shivering, maybe he’s crying, his head hurts too much from doing so at least.
“Good job” Is the only thing his father says, squeezing his shoulder gently before letting go. “Go and clean yourself”
His voice is gentle for the first time ever.
Jeong spends hours in the bathtub, nothing he ever does takes away scarlet from under his nails.
Years go by, it becomes regular now. All of it.
He can’t make it stop, he’s too weak.
Years go by, and he regains his grip on sanity, maybe.
There are skeletons in his closet, he leaves the door open at night. They watch him, they shun him, he’s evil.
The sea cleans all evil.
"Not bad, I must admit I wasn't expecting you to actually succeed"
Jeongwon’s eyes stare at nothing in particular, trying not to focus on the man in front of him. His stance was the same as always, feet perfectly planted on the floor, separated enough to keep himself in balance, his hands behind him, one in a fist and the other around his wrist. He stands straight as a pole with not a single emotion going through his face.
The more Jeongwon thinks about it, the more he realizes how hard his father's habits die.
For a veteran living a life completely separated from most if not all of his instilled guide of soldier morals and ethics, the man sure drilled into Jeong his fair share of military discipline.
"You are dismissed, son. Good job on the field today."
Those words sounded so innocent, so much it made him want to laugh, holler at the mere meaning of them.
Good job on the field today.
If it had been any other day at all, Jeongwon would've felt it. The tug of his heart, the pride pouring over him, up to the brim with high hopes and confidence, because that's all it took. One single sentence, one single drop.
A petal at the top of a soldier's blown-up helmet won't make the soldier any less dead, nor will it deprive the scene of its gruesome meaning. It will deepen it, like a soap opera, tragic in just the perfect way.
Jeong knows better now, but still takes it.
He cleans his equipment thoroughly, not wanting anything to rust away or have an odd pull or stain in any way. His father's words repeated over and over in his head.
Clean all your white weapons correctly or their fucked up edges will cost you victory.
Water runs down his hands, covering every inch of his skin. It brings back flashes, echoes of pleads and cries and silence.
Blood mixes itself with water in a slow dance, its threads tainting the clear liquid until he can't tell them apart anymore. It's been a long time since he was able to see where the water ended and blood started, it's been a long time since water made blood disappear completely.
Just like now, they blend together and coexist in a never-ending waltz that haunts Jeongwon.
With every shower, with every glass, every raindrop falling on his face in the middle of every storm.
With every cut and every thrust, every single dig of blade into skin, every crack of bones and soulless pair of eyes staring back at him.
Blood and water feel the same when he closes his eyes.
He goes to the sea that night, as he always does after pouring more bones inside his closet.
The sea is calm at this hour, only small waves form around his feet as he makes his way in. He greets nature like it's something sacred, praying to it to treat him gently, as he's only human, and the sea is nothing short of divine.
Once, when he was still a child, someone told him that sea waters clean all evil. Maybe that's why he's addicted to its waves, diving so deep his head hurts, and swimming for so long his lungs screamed with desperate need of air.
Every time he comes back to the surface and gasps for air, his mind goes blank. Saltwater runs down his eyes, his neck and hands, and runs down back into the sea, taking with it remnants of deep red that do not stain its clear nature. They clean, he remembers, take all evil away, and make it disappear.
Jeong looks at the moon, its silver smile welcoming him. He stays there for a while, looking only at the stars, making up constellations in his mind, ignoring everything else trapped in it.
His demons can wait, he thinks, they can wait by the shore, far away from here. Right now it's only him, the sea, the stars and the moon.
It's only him, he's twelve years old again, his hands are clean, his mind is calm, and his dreams are big.
In the sea, he doesn't exist, he fades away like the blood on his hands.
In the sea, he closes his eyes and feels at ease.
Jeongwon wishes to say he lost count, but it's impossible. He counts, every time.
Nothing fancy, just name and date, if he remembers.
Name and date.
A night is over.
Name and date.
He goes back home.
Name and date.
Cleans his tools.
Name and date.
Name and d–
He pulls the blanket over himself, he's too big for the bathtub now, but it still makes him feel better.
With headphones on, and small tunes flooding his ears, he allows himself to let his thoughts run rampant, allows himself to think and remember and scream about all the awful sins he's done.
He breathes in and breathes out, and tears fall from his eyes, he doesn't stop them.
When one falls on his lips, its taste reminds him of the sea. There must be something so divine about it, there must be a reason for it. If the same water that covers the earth can fall from his eyes when he allows himself to be so vulnerable, then is he really that much of a monster?
The answer is yes, he is.
He knows that's not how it works, he knows he can't possibly repent any of the things he's done. He knows he's not naive to shield himself in lies, he knows that sooner or later, it'll come back at him, it always does, and always will. He knows he can't escape it.
Blood runs in his hands as much as it runs in his veins.
It never gets easier, never gets better, and never gets anywhere if he doesn't turn insane.
But he holds his purpose close to his heart, he clings to it like a marine to their ship, avoiding the mermaid's cries.
He makes sure to never forget.
His father's blood runs through his veins, and soon enough, through Jeongwon’s hands as well.