Shera lay outside in the snow, wearing nothing but his father’s old shirt. Its thin fabric obstructs the cold as well as a shield of paper blocks a sword, serving merely as a pretense of defense. Thus, the chill breeze has free reigns as it wages war on the poor boy’s body, causing his lips to crack and his ears to turn red. Pain. Fatigue. Shera’s head falls in the direction of his home. His house is right there, his warm and comfortable bed is right there, and yet he stays right where he is.
After all, he is a smart boy. He knows not to get in the way of his parents when they argue. Shera drags a trembling finger across the ugly scar on his right cheek, and through the hazy kitchen window, he sees the silhouettes of his mother and father, screaming at each other still:
“Oh yes, you heard me. I said you are a sorry excuse for a father; look at how our son turned out. Do you know he got into a fight at school today? Beat that other kid bloody, they said!”
“Try me. Tell me I’m a bad father again, and you’ll see what happens.”
The young boy covers his ears with both hands, pressing harder and harder yet, tuning out the noise. But it’s not enough:
“It’s your fault that our son turned out to be such a good-for-nothing piece of shit.”
Slap* Father hit mother across the cheek.
Shera turns his head to the vast nothingness above, wiping at his watery eyes with a red, aching fist. The sky is dark, clogged by thick fog. But, beyond all that shit, there is light. Maybe life’s like that as well. Maybe there is something better, something beyond what is known — another place, a better place.
Consumed by his earnest wish, Shera imagines a world that never was. He is a knight in shining armor, fully grown, handsome, and confident. Everyone cheers him on where he trods, throwing bouquets in his wake. Schmak says his sword as it severs the hydra’s head, hurray says his beloved father, hugging him. I‘m so proud of you says the knight’s mother as she kisses him on his forehead. Together, the happy family walks toward the sunrise.
A rare smile touches Shera’s blue lips, and for a little while, the ground doesn’t feel so cold, so rough…