How swiftly innocence flies…a soaring, swooping bird, sky-blue cloud-wings and puppy-dog eyes as standard.

A stabbing beak because innocence hurts, hurts so much.

Oh, how innocence hurts. It hurts when your own is broken and when you see another's shattered. How it hurts.

The first to fly is often the innocence of joy – long golden summer afternoons playing with friends in the parks and grounds, racing up and down the hallways of the stately homes, or just lazing as the sun lances across immaculate parks and you sweeten the air with lazy talk vanish as age creeps up, and soon the lazy days of endless summer vanish, no more do you play with your friends, an undifferentiated mass of boys and girls. Any innocent enjoyment with a girl immediately becomes the subject of gossip and insipid rumour; you are shunned.

Then the sublime innocence of words flies away, never to return – gone are the days of what you say is what you mean and never will life be the same – ballrooms and halls and parties are now battlefields, weapons of choice: words. Is it any wonder the rich are so cold?

Innocence of friendship flees; new alliances, shifting animosity, ones you knew as friends become enemies, all draw away. Strange things occur; boys locked with girls in things deeper than friendship as you watch on helplessly – you must not indulge in such practices, and another bird flies from your dwindling flock.

Then innocence of emotion spreads its wings; always before you lived your life on the outside of your face, a mirror for your feelings and cares. 'These are a liability.' A pacing, black figure, ebony walking stick hissing down with a sharp crack, driving the point home. 'No emotion. None permissible.' No wonder – vapid seductresses you once knew as friends in golden summertime tear any weakness apart and you are alone.

Innocence of understanding – your parents know all in childhood. They understand the tiny trials and tribulations of your daily life, they give comfort and help. Of course they do. But confront them with some concept they have no understanding of and you are among the sharks and reeds. Sometimes they bite and other times you are snatched back from the jaws. Once lost, never regained. A terrible bird to see fly.

Sexual innocence, oh please; return what was taken in drunken ecstasy. A ruinous bird to set free.

Innocence of acceptance – a bitter bird to have fly. In the golden summer, there was no difference between us, a child's acceptance is boundless, unprejudiced. Black is no different to white, girl no different to boy. Now…acceptance, a bitter, unfamiliar word amid the silken trappings of the rich. It is the unwritten law of any ball, party, cotillion or court that I am easy pickings. Never mind that one's parents own half a country, never mind that you've never done anything to them, everyone, from the lowest lord to the highest duke will stop at nothing to leave insults. Just because of a small difference. One cannot help what one is – not man, not woman, but something in between the two. A living Mona Lisa.

Ah, innocence. Something lost long ago, to be grasped wherever possible. A faint gleam of golden summers under oaks, seen in every child's eyes until the fateful day innocence flies from another and another friend is lost to society and I am alone once more, waiting for innocent acceptance. Heaven knows I never get any other kind.

A/N: Just something I needed to get off my chest. No flames please – I've had quite enough abuse for a while.