“Little one!” they call.

“It’s time to come home!”

He drops the burnt pine cone.

Hurries down the path to them.

It winds through the blackened forest.

Ends at their homestead.

“Where were you at?” they ask.

He shrugs his shoulders.

They eye his balled up hands.

“Were you collecting seeds again?” they ask.

He shakes his head.

“Open your hands” they command.

He denies their request.

They grab his wrists.


Burrow their claws past the clay that covers his flesh.

He winces.

Tries to resist.

They squeeze harder.

His ash filled whorls reveal blackened seeds.


“Keep them” they say “They are dead anyways.”

He turns to leave.

“Unh-uh” they say.

They plant him down in his chair.

His feet dangle.

Remind him he’s little.


They start to dance.

Lift their arms.

Raise their legs.

They dance for each other.

They dance for him.

They take his spirt.

Then dance with it.

They add something distorted here.

Take away something beautiful there.

They look to each other for cues.

Adjust to one another’s moves.

One shrinks him with spittle covered half-truths.

The other bends him with violent gesticulations.


He turns away.

“Don’t look away!” they say.

They make him watch.

They dance their dance of disfigurement.

All through the night.

They must.

They have two lifetimes of hurt to hand down.

Hurt that was passed down to them.

By those who were hurt before them.

And them before them.

Hurt that has no half-life.

It does not diminish.

It can only aggrandize.

In whom the hurt started?

No one remembers.

In whom it will end?

Not them.

They dance to give it to him.

He sits in his chair.

Ingests his inheritance.

They spin apart.

One falls into a recliner.

The other onto a couch.

“You know…” says the one on the couch.

Its chin starts to waver.

Its voice starts to break.

“One day…We will die.”

“What?! Why?! Don’t die!” he cries.

It turns away its reddened eyes.

Does not.

Will not.

Look at him.

“Please” he repeats “don’t die.”

It glowers at him.

Suspends his existence.

Then waves him over.

He leaps from his seat.

Dives as deep as he can onto its chest.

“Don’t die” he says.

“I am sorry” he says.

“For what?” it asks.

“For collecting seeds.”

“You know that’s forbidden.”

“I know. I wont do it again.”

“You know” it says “you made us do this.”

“I know. I am sorry” he says.

“You bring out the worst in us.”

“I know.”

“I am sorry.”

“Please don’t die.”

“I love you” he says.

“Okay baby” it says.

He finally feels safe.

Needs to rest.

“Can I go to my room?” he asks.

“Sure, baby” it says.

He closes the door.

Sits on his bed.

In the empty.

Just him.

Processing their dance with a little one’s mind.

He arrives at the only conclusion.

He deserves what he gets.

Being who he is.

Thinking his thoughts.

Doing the things that he does.

Even if these things come naturally.


Like collecting seeds.

These things are wrong.

He is bad.

Not worthy of love.

And, lest he forgets.

They repeat the dance.

They too have a task.

Bind him to them.

Destroy any memories he may have of him.

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