The Knifegrinder’s Apprentice

“I can’t help you,” he said. “I’m really struggling here, taking care of myself.” He wondered if his partner could perceive how upset he was; he always shook when he got angry. Whenever he was thrown out of homeostasis, he would run on pure emotion. He would let loose.

He left the room without shutting the door and sat on the couch. Just sat there, staring. He went numb, no pain, endorphins had been discharged into his blood stream. Confused by his actions, he didn’t understand why he perpetuated the cycle of pain. He performs these rituals, the rending of trust, and then felt nothing. When all he needed to do was show that he cared. In fact, it was quite simple, he needed to show compassion. The demons are real.

The demons, though, are in his blood, he inherited them. He is born of them. He knows because he created some of them. All the joy and pain of his ancestors live through him. He is, and always will be, his grandparents, his parents, his children, crow, coyote, bear, oak, yarrow. He knows that all time is happening right now. To fix the past and the future, he must work right now. Our subject is aware of what he must do, pushing back against the inertia of time is very difficult, indeed. Still, the longer you sustain pressure, the more momentum you gain. We’re working on a much larger timescale than one lifetime.

He cannot sleep until the fiends rest, but they cannot rest because they’re still participating in the rend. A true unholy communion. Recognizing the cycle, the pain is the first step to healing. He sees the demons, and he names them, they’re scared. We may finally have gained the momentum we need.

This man will live many more lives, but each time he will have to fight fewer demons. He will show them that they are heard and understood, he will show them warmth. Sharing water, fire, and earth with them, their contorted masks morphed into recognizable faces, they became powerful allies. Tears rolled down his cheekbones; he knew the beasts; they were family. You see, these demons were never truly monsters. They’re him, his grandparents, neighbors, the entire city, the language, the culture, they’ve been turned into demons. Trapped by trauma. They are him, he is them, life is truly eternal. He decided he will no longer call his kin demons.

Closing his eyes, he prayed, there’s a lot of work to be done.

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