It lies terribly, the mirror, it always has, a naysayer cloaked in flesh not of my flesh, bone not of my bone. Once a true rendering, it ruled the me-not-me, stifling, denying the truth. A reflection of what was, what is, what is yet to be.
Tis a Rite of Passage this thing called aging: the Third Stage. I’m in that now, requiring handling, some care and consideration, the inevitable ‘young lady’ on his lips, the smile sincere, a mark of respect. I’ll not begrudge his good offices, yet there might be small regrets, wee shudders as blessed memory eludes, a simple mercy—a kindness— when it does not intrude.
The outer shell rues acceptance, but choices limit, and forbearance replaces interest. Yet … yet. All is not lost.
He, the ‘character’, waited in the shadows, lurking for days, like whispers down the canyons, spurs flicking tinder dry grass as he shuffled, impatient. He is dangerous, this one … a righteous dispenser of justice, faith shattered, a shell.
It was the fifteen year old, Ronan, I allowed in at first, too fearful to face down the other dark presence. It was his voice who spoke loudest, demanding as only an angry young man can be, justified in his own mind. I tried to convince him otherwise. I failed.
My truth lies in that failure. I let the other in, the seeker of vengeance, the one they call Marshal. I hadn’t planned it, tried to hold it back, succumbing with a whimper. The me-not-me launched the first word, then the next, until the dam breached, cracks zigzagging in a bloodbath of violence.
There is no more Third Stage, for I am once again freed of earthly constraints.
I’m letting this one run. As if I had a choice.