((I was inspired by some Amarante lyrics to create a story.))

The sunrise pierced our half-lidded gaze, stirring us awake. It was the same as the start of any other day, a grievous existence predicated on the lives we left behind. It was not by choice, but rather by the cruel strength of dark hands yanking us like tadpoles from the muck, forcing us to endure a new meaning to the idea of ‘relocation’. A kinship was shared among us that we never knew immediately possible. A family, among those who’ve lost theirs. A friendship, among those incapable of trust. Unfeeling, unwavering, and cold, a fitting emotional mindset to the soulless crimson stares that found our backs each day and each night.

No man, mer, or beast knew the feeling of helpless fear like us. To be drained of your identity, such as a tree might be drained of its sap. Tears falling from dry ducts, birds singing to empty forests, rivers with no current. We knew pain like a mother, and pain knew us, a feeling best served in moderation, less you become accustomed to it like a fine Summerset vintage. The cracking sounds, the intense exhales of foreign phrases, became as familiar to us as our own instincts. Our own heartbeats. Souls reach out into the nether to seek a purpose, finding a tangible path to initiate a journey of fulfillment and self-predicated enthusiasm.

The name I knew, now only uttered upon the lips of dead men and ghosts, echoed out in a guttural sorrow of Jel. It rang in my mind like the bells of heartland chapels. Okeethus, a title of tribehood and honor. Respect. Things that made sense to us, but to no other. Perceptions skewed, and twisted like fine bread, to be baked in a fire and seared to a new, golden idea. To be flaked and torn, as to fulfill the gullet of another man’s idea of sanctity and racial preservation. Then to be defecated once new ideas drifted into the ever-seeking nasal cavities of hungry ambitions. A cycle we wade in, like a helpless frog in a stream of mud.

It was on the day of death and color that we knew things would change. Men and women in garments of silken threads and golden promises came and went, spreading words of war and politic. Though, Master was a cruel man. Where the message of peace and freedom echoed through the ears of many self-proclaimed leaders and visionaries, we were hid away to be ignorant of the truth. Only when the toads began to croak, the fish began to leap, did we learn. We became angry. A fire burned, smoldered, unhinging itself from our consciousness in an explosion of violence.

Soon, the sunset lured us in with its orange glare. Our eyes blind with anger, our senses on fire. We threw our tired bodies into the ocean, head first. Master was gone, and we were free. Floating. The current threw our limbs together, beat the air out of our lungs, filling them with practices of breathing we only knew in memory. Our arms tightened, tumble became embrace; light passed between us as we were locked in contentment. We hadn't noticed that day had quickly become night, that the waves had begun to knock harder against us, telling us to get out. But it seemed we could float forever. That fresh air would always be just above, ready to receive thirsty souls. Then, I felt my ankle catch on a rock. It pulled me down, and I bled into the water. Tugging and pulling, I tried to break free.

But I knew it was impossible.

I would have to fall.

And so I did.