Life, Death, and Rebirth (excerpt)

I woke up, trying to remember what had happened. It didn’t make any sense, that I had been lying on the ground three weeks ago and couldn’t remember why. I hadn’t been fed in a while. I didn’t recall how long. Every time the sun set, guards came into my cell and tried to get information out of me, and I always told the truth. I told them, I don’t know. Then, I got beaten and locked up again. My sweats and t-shirt were drenched in my blood and covered in dirt. I always thought about asking for a change of clothes, but I didn’t know how to put the clothes on. They looked like pictures in the big textbook (I thought that it was called that) which lay under my bed, ripped up and bloody.

More days passed by. Nothing happened, except for the usual routine. In the morning of what felt like my 50th day in the prison, a boy, who looked a couple years older than me, came in my cell.

“What’s your name?” he asked in a very grim voice.

I was silent. I tried to think. I couldn’t even remember my name. I opened my mouth, but nothing came out.

The boy looked at the guards, who shook their heads, and then he looked back at me. “Well, why don’t we give you a name, since you can’t remember yours.”

I just stared at him with a blank face.

He stared back. After a while, he spoke. “Why don’t we call you Phoenix?” said the boy. I cringed at the name. He then stood and gestured for me to stand. As I stood up, he nodded towards the door and muttered, “Let’s see how well he runs,” and swung a sword at my arm.

I jumped out of the way, but the sword grazed my shoulder and up my chest. As soon as the sword was out of the way, I sprinted towards the door. There were stairs, and three guys were already coming after me. I started skipping stairs and got out of the cellars.

As I got to the surface, a huge light blinded me, but I kept running. Soon, I got to a river. I started crossing and turned around. Huge groups of men in steel armour–either running or on horseback–were closing in. I hurried across the river and darted into the woods. I kept running, and when the sun finally started setting, I stopped. I found a hiding spot under a huge oak tree. As I sat there, I finally noticed how much the cut I got from the sword hurt. My blood-soaked shirt was turning black from all the blood. It hurt so much that it was hard to breath. I started losing consciousness. Before my vision went black, I saw a figure rushing towards me. It didn’t look like one of the knights, it looked like a regular person.

When I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was the ceiling of a small cottage. Then, I turned my head and found a girl. She looked about 16 years old. She was washing what looked like a piece of cloth. Without looking, she said in a very soft, gentle voice, “Good. You’re awake.”

The gown she wore was slightly ripped but looked perfect with her icy blue eyes. She turned her head and looked at me. She walked over, took a stool, and made me sit up. As I struggled painfully to move, she propped my back up with a gentle hand as the other grabbed a few pillows and put them behind me for me to rest on. She then took a wooden bowl filled with water and put it on the table next to the bed.

She dipped the cloth that she had been washing in the water and put it on my chest where the sword had left a deep gash. I made a rather pathetic sound, but it portrayed the pain I was in.

She rested a hand on my chest next to the gash and whispered, “I know.”  

Her hair fell over shoulders in silky auburn waves. I looked into her soft eyes and didn’t take my eyes off them. It was as if I was being controlled to look into the depths of her eyes. After what felt like at most a few seconds, she got up and took the pot of water, which now looked like a pot of cherry Kool-aid, and went to the sink.

All of a sudden, a surge and images flashed through my mind. One of them was the book I had left in the cell. Another was me standing in front a group of  kids in single tables, there was also an older person with a clipboard. The room was covered with big pieces of paper with men like the ones chasing me. I suddenly started to remember things.

My name is Liam Cadmon Waterfield. I am 16 years old. I live in Manhattan, New York…

The girl turned and looked at me worried.

“I’m fine,” I gasped. Then stood up. As I did, someone broke the door down, and the boy from the cellar who gave me my new name barged in.

“What are you doing with him, Adrienne?” the boy said.

The girl retorted, “ Dillon, doesn’t he look familiar?” Tears started running down Adrienne’s eyes.

Dillon looked at her with eyes that gradually started to soften. “Oh, beloved sister. I know it hurts, but that isn’t him. This is a fugitive!”

“It is! Can’t you see? Cadmon came back!” Adrienne cried. Dillon looked blankly at her. “You loved him like a brother! How could you forget him?” Adrienne screamed and stretched her hand to touch my side. She then started pushing me back towards the bed.

Dillon stared at me with a hint of hatred. He then looked back at Adrienne. He walked forward until he was right in front of Adrienne, who was pressed against me, against the wall. “That, is not Cadmon. He is gone. Cadmon left us, you, for the war. He never came back. Understand? Cadmon isn’t coming back.” Then Dillon looked at me and said, “I want this guy back where he came from.” Dillon gave me a savage look and walked out of the cottage.

Adrienne was sobbing. She turned around, pressed herself against me, and cried into my chest. I didn’t know what to other than wrap my arms around her. She started muttering something that I couldn’t hear. Then the cottage as well as a crying Adrienne started to dissolve. As everything started going black, I heard a voice in my head saying, “Cadmon, come back for me.”

When I woke up, I was in what looked like my old bedroom. I got up, opened the door, went down the stairs, and found my parents sitting at the kitchen table, looking out the window. They didn’t say a word. They both stared into the darkness with teary eyes. I suddenly made the ground creak and the they both turned. They stared at me for ten minutes without budging and then rushed forward and embraced me in a huge bear hug. I normally would have minded, but this was all I needed right now. Both my parents showing affection towards me, something I hadn’t had in a long time.

Mom was crying into my shoulder while Dad was squeezing me tight. I suddenly felt a surge of pain. I cried out, and they both go of me and looked at me with startled expressions. I looked down at the gash that went across my chest. It had opened again. As soon as my parents realized, they panicked.

“Liam, what happened to you?” my mother cried as my dad reached for the phone.

I couldn’t say anything, all I could think about was how much pain I was in. My mother was still trying to talk to me when the paramedics came. My mom reluctantly moved aside while my dad explained that I came home looking like that.

I spent a couple weeks in the hospital and then went back to school. Before I stepped in the doors of the school, I remembered all the beatings I had gotten right where I was standing. Someone bumped into me. I turned and thought I saw Dillon.

He looked at me with disdain and said, “Watch where you’re going, freak.” Then he walked away.

I remembered that I was the history freak of the school. I went into the school, dreading every step I took. I got through the day without having too much trouble. Most of the guys who had bullied me looked at me like they were actually relieved that I had come back.

As I walked to history, I realized that I had a presentation, and I didn’t have my textbook. I walked in the classroom and sat down.

“Ah. Liam. You’re back,” my teacher said.

I just nodded.

“Why don’t you give the presentation that was due almost a month ago?” she said.

I reluctantly stood up and walked to the front of the class. As everyone started sitting down, I stared at a poster which had a guy on it who looked like me, except at the bottom it said, The Great Cadmon. The last person who walked in was a girl. She looked so familiar, but I couldn’t place her. She had beautiful icy blue eyes and shoulder-length silky auburn hair. She looked at me and smiled. It was brief, but there was a connection, I think. I swallowed. As all the students stared at me, I started talking. I mentioned medieval times and how guards were dressed. Then, I went into how prisoners were treated. When I was done, everyone clapped, as usual, and I went shyly back to my seat.

While we were learning about the crusades, someone poked me in the back. I turned and found the girl sitting behind me.

“Hey,” she said, “I loved your presentation. It was pretty cool. Umm… can you tutor me? I just moved here, like, a couple days ago. I didn’t learn the same curriculum.”

I didn’t know what to say. I nodded.

She then smiled and said, “Great! Can I have your number so that I can call you?”

We exchanged numbers, and then the bell rang.

As I was packing up, she whispered, “By the way, my name is Adriana.”

I smiled as she left. It was very rare for a guy like me to get asked to tutor a girl, especially one like her.  I walked out of the classroom feeling proud of myself and saw Adriana with the guy that looked like Dillon. She looked at me and called me over. As I walked over, the guy turned to me.

“This is my twin brother Damon,” she said.

Damon looked at me and nodded his head. “Hey.”

I replied with a, “Hey.”

Damon didn’t seem to like me very much. Later in gym, Damon came up to me as I sat down on the bleachers.

“Hey, why aren’t you playing?” he asked.

I looked up and gestured towards my shoulder, where there a gigantic wrap went across my chest and around my left shoulder.

“Wow. Where did you get that?”

I didn’t know how to explain that. I could have said, “The past you gave it to me. He picked up a sword and swung it at my face,” but I just shrugged. As soon as I did, I had to wince. My shoulder felt like it was being stabbed with a thousand needles. Damon just stood there and stared at me with a blank expression. I looked back at him and started to get up.

Suddenly, he grabbed me by the shoulder and threw me back down into the bleachers. “Look freak, I don’t like you. But since my sister does, I’m going to tell you this: if you ever hurt my sister, you won’t live to see your next day. Understand?”

I was so shocked and full of pain that I couldn’t say anything.

“Do you understand?” Damon yelled.

I opened my mouth to reply, but nothing came out. Everyone was crowding around to see what was going on. There was a wail and, as I turned my head, I saw a glimpse of Adriana pushing her way through the crowd of people. One of the football players pulled Damon off me as another went to help me get up. I was in so much pain that I could barely breathe.

Adriana ran up to me and knelt down next to me. “Are you okay?” she asked. Her voice was quivering and tears were pouring down her already swollen eyes.

I tried to nod, but there was no point in lying. I was not okay. I needed to go to the hospital.

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