An Inner Child

by CarpenterAnt

I see again the fire burning brightly on the small farm that had been my home for so long. Again I saw the stars burning against the curtain of utter blackness. I see the fields of corn shining in the moonlight. I smell the fresh clean scent that all growing things impart to the air. And I am happy. I walk out across the plain to the small hillock that stand near the edge of our land. Climbing to the top, I turn and gaze out across the fields spread out beneath me. I come here often when I wonder about the past and think about the future. To sit and think and plan. My life is not all I have ever wanted it to be.

Down in the small sturdy house, my mother and sister are preparing for bed. My father is on his way to town to here some news that a runner brought through. The whelts on my back are cooled by the night breeze. I still feel the ghost of the thong striking my flesh. Again I am beaten without knowing why. A small thing a mistake in the irrigation or maybe it was a mismeasure of the grain to the livestock, it matters not.

The moon is full and undeniably beautiful. I get up and turn away from the farm and the lands that one day I will inherit. I walk down the hill to the edge of the forest that is alway trying to reclaim the land that was taken from it. I and I alone will dare to come here at night. I walk past the edge into the deeper darkness of the wood. Again I breath in the scent that permeates the air. But this time it is a different vintage. Now it has an indefinable savbor to it. It feels old, older than any other thing I know. Old but still full of life. The forest also holds meaning for me. I feel drawn more to the woods than I am to the Fields. I know that at some point I will venture into the depths of this wood and discover what it is that calls to me. Calls to me in a whisper that I can barely hear much less understand.

Once I tried to explain the feeling to my father. I learned that he was not a confidante after I was beaten for talking nonsense. I no longer think of him as a friend, he is only my father. Every now and then a laugh or smile will remind me of how it was in my childhood and I always hope that it will last. But it always fades, fades faster than the mist is burned away. I find that these hopes are coming less and less frequently now. Whether it is because I have stopped seeing his smiles or because he doesn't smile anymore I can't tell.

I return to the house. Lying in bed I hear my mothers beloved voice humming as she finishes her work for the night. My father is back, and for once silent about the greivances of the day. I am glad. Many a time one beating hasn't eased his wrath and another or else a night of labor are the only cures. My sister stays quiet as I do, Faking sleep. It is almost a matter of survival to do so. Even if it is considered bad manners by many.

My fathers voice echoes in my ears. I flinch at the sound of that voice. The only voice besides my mothers and sisters I have known in my life. " The village to the south was attacked. It was destroyed, nothing remains but a burnt place on the earth. Tomorrow I will return to the village. We are sending out a scouting troop to find the cause. I will be going with them. I will leave David with you. He should be able to keep the field until I return." The lights dim. In the firelight I see the two shadows follow their owners into the only other room of the house.

I smile. Soon my father will be going. For a few days life will relax. Taking care of the farm isn't a problem. I have been raised to do it. I make a promise to myself. Tommorow I will work hard and fast. The chores will be completed as fast as possible, then I will have the afternoon to finally get the answer I have always been looking for. I fall asleep with that in my mind.

I sleep. And I see a man lying on the ground.....I see myself. Yet I am older in this dream and I am also awake. I stare at myself with wonder....

And my younger self smiles at seeing me. I feel a bond with this young boy. I never think back to those times, if I can help it. But he is always with me. And he is always a strength in those times that I falter. I would not give him up for all the magic in the world.