Author : Callum Wallace

The heavy perfume of roses assaults my nostrils; the smell of youthful summers spent in glittering woodlands, diamond rivers, fields of grass blowing in the wind. I barely remember now.

I stink of my work; darkness, shit and fear. The rank taste sits heavily, squatting in my mouth.

I think I remember enjoying the sun.
Now the harsh rays smash down, flits spasmodically between steepled rooves and grotesque towers. Baked grass singes, crickets scratch. Dusty. Still.

Someone shouts. It isn’t friendly, but my mind flashes back anyway; barely remembered dreams of kids playing, carefree, all the time in the world.

No games now. No time.

Summers of childhood fly by; thanks for coming, good to meet you.

Summers crawl now; hang about, slow it down.

I read somewhere that time only passes if you have something to do. The more to do, the quicker it goes.

But I’m busy. Busier than ever.

Something about this tickles me, but I don’t laugh. Something about this injustice makes me want to cry out, but I make no noise.

Because I’m busy.

They take them young, once a year, when the sun returns in earnest, when the academy opens its doors. Education starts. Break them down, build them back up. It works. Just look at me.

Innocence is led in; happy, ready to learn, time flooding past. What comes out again is older, slower, busier.

The training is hard. Long days of physical exercise, martial practice. Longer nights of reading, schoolwork.

And if I’m struggling, imagine what they’re feeling. I try not to. Hell, I can’t. The Order won’t let me.

Like I said, busier than ever.

Those that fail are sent on their way; sad little plastic-wrap sacks thrown in the back of a truck. But that’s none of my business.

Mother says it’s necessary. I absolve myself of judgement; it doesn’t matter to me. I’m here for one thing and one thing only.

The newest intake comes. The smarter of the group are sullen, even tearful, but some of the kids wave, smiling up at me. They don’t know what’s coming. I do not smile back, wave them up the steps.

The smiles will be gone soon. The memories of summers will be just that: memories. They’ll be too busy to remember what we don’t teach them. Anything unnecessary is culled, cut away, left to die along with those children who fail the Order’s rigorous practices.

The stink of roses weighs heavily on my conscious.

I think I remember enjoying the sun. But not today.

That time went too fast. I can’t remember. None of us can.

And neither will they.

Too busy.

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