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Daily Archives: August 22nd, 2013

And weighing in at exactly 333 words, here’s my entry for Trifecta Week 91. This is what I was working on when I was interrupted, and found my writing time better served elsewhere.

“The Brand”

The brand still stung. The prisoner couldn’t remember how much time had passed, because he hadn’t been allowed to see the sun or a clock since he’d been brought inside. He couldn’t remember his name. Where he was from. What he had done for a living. What he could remember was the stink as the metal burned through hair and flesh, the shock of the realization that it was his own that seared. Countless hours or days or weeks later, it still stung, though the stench had faded.

In the cell’s dim light, he could make out a faint white and pink outline on the inside of his left wrist, the shape somehow familiar. Where had he seen it before? His memory of the time before his capture was gone, and details of the event still eluded him. It didn’t seem to matter how much of his immeasurable time he spent attempting to recall things. The brand stung, and…

Wait? Was that it? The brand… Could they have done something to his memory with it somehow? Burning out his past as they burned his arm? He jumped to his feet, calling for the guards. It was all coming back to him, his wife, his sons, his life, as his mind slowly beat down the barrier between past and present.

“I remember!”

The guards stood at the door.

“Think he means it?”

“Better to be certain.”

“Right. Out then, you.”

Matthew stepped out of his cell, the sting gone from his wrist. He saw brighter light down the hall and felt a surge of hope as a guard’s gauntlet connected with the back of his head, sending him cascading into darkness again.

The brand still stung. The prisoner couldn’t remember how much time had passed, because he hadn’t been allowed to see the sun or a clock since he’d been brought inside. In the cell’s dim light, he could make out a faint white and pink outline on the inside of his left wrist…

I had something else that I was writing today, but I just learned that it’s going to have to wait. As Somerset Maugham said, “We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.” I really wish that this were not something I had to say.

Where to start?

On Tuesday night, I lost one of my oldest friends. Kurtis and I had known each other since preschool. We grew up together, or at least got older together. We were good friends all the way through high school. I can’t say that we were best friends, because it’s simply not true, but we always got along, even when we would agree to disagree. In high school, we were part of the local FCCLA chapter, doing community service work, and traveling across the country. We went to Philadelphia, Chicago, San Diego, and Nashville, and came in as one of the top teams in the nation for the Parliamentary Procedure competition as freshmen and as seniors. Nashville was our last big adventure together, and we didn’t talk a lot after we went off to college. An occasional “Hey, how are you?” or “Happy birthday!” was the closest we really got.

Some time later, I heard that Kurtis had been diagnosed with cancer, but he fought it. With help from his wife, Liz, and his friends and family, he fought. And for a while, he won. On Tuesday night, though, after another long bout, Kurtis knew that it was time for him to say goodbye. I wish that I could be that brave, and that strong. I wish that I’d taken the time to talk to him a little more. Others knew him better, I know, but I am proud to have known him.