An impact jolts you from behind and your world twists away. A sharp pain lances across your face as you are teleported from leather interiors to cold concrete. The pain the broke your face has spread everywhere, but mainly the chest. It feels as if your heart is pumping pain instead of blood. The pain is so sharp that you have difficulty breathing. The lack of oxygen induces a new pain, only this one is terrible and draining, pulling away at your very essence. You try to muster your control and force yourself to breathe, but every attempt sends fresh waves of pain through your body. A dull ache throbs through your head and you realize it's because you are clenching your eyes so hard. You force them open to see a large piece of glass sticking through your chest.

You were five years old when you climbed the large crabapple tree in your backyard. You weren't supposed to be there, and you knew if your mom found out she'd yell at you for sure, but you couldn't help yourself. You loved the exhilaration of being up high, feeling the wind push your hair flat. You didn't know the words to describe the feeling then, but you know now that it could only be described as noble, like you were the brave hero of the story. The branches were thin and brittle, and one snapped under the weight of your tiny frame. You fell, and in that instance of falling you felt as if the world was frozen and you weighed nothing at all. You didn't even have time to feel afraid in that instance. Then you struck ground. You weren't badly hurt, but the shock of it caught up to you quickly and you burst into tears. The back door opened and your mother came, drawn by your cries. You sobbed harder, afraid of being yelled at. Without pause, she took you in her arms and comforted you, wrapping you in unconditional love.

You shut your eyes and try to scream, but you have no breath, only blood, and even that is leaving you. All control is lost as your world falls apart under the pressure of a mounting terror and the pain that dominates everything. You can't breath, all warm air twisting away up into the atmosphere. The draining pain returns and now you know that it will suck your existence into infinity.

You were 14 when your father left. You came home from school to see your mother crying in the kitchen, holding a note. You stood watching her, unsure of what to do. You had never seen her like this before, and part of you wants to console her, but you couldn't. Emptiness filled you as you turned and left her there to sob. You walked up to the bathroom and turned on the bathtub, letting the water run as hot as possible. Then you stuck your hand underneath it. The pain exploded through you and you shook with the effort of keeping your hand beneath the scalding water until you could bear it no longer. Then you kept it under. Even pain was better than nothing.

Salty tears squeeze out beneath your closed eyes and mix with the blood pooling around you. You can feel the draining feeling move up and down your limbs, which start to tingle. The pain lessens as the tingling increases, and you have no illusions as to what is happening. You are entering the void. Your defenses are breaking down, you can't get air, and you don't even remember why you should fight. What does it matter? With this thought, you relax and slide into nothingness.

You were 16 when you found your strength. You had returned to from a friend's house to find your front door kicked in, the frame splintered. Cautiously, you entered the house to find everything destroyed. A moan sounded from upstairs that made you fear the worst. You rushed up to your mother's room and burst through the door to find two men standing over your mother, who was bound, gagged, and lying in her bed. You don't stop or hesitate, adrenaline driving your actions. Before either of the men could react, you snatched a clay elephant you had made in the third grade off your mother's dresser and slammed it into one of the men's temple. He dropped immediately, blood gushing from his ear. The other man drew a knife and began to advance on you. Without pausing, you wound back your arm and threw the elephant at the man's face with all your strength. It connected, breaking his nose. He instinctively brought his hands up to his face and in the instance you closed the distance between you and grabbed the knife from his hands. You clubbed him in the temple with the butt of the knife and he dropped like the first man. You mother cried from the bed and you cut her free, taking her into your arms. Comforting her. You decided from that moment on, you would protect her.

Your fingers wrap around the hilt of an invisible sword, and you force your eyes open. The imaginary symbol reminds you of the feeling at the top of the tree, that nobility. You calm your mind, calm your panic, and take a deep breath in. The pain returns in full force, but you ignore it. You remember the tub, the threshold of pain, and rise above it. The pain fades to a background noise as you continue to breathe. The air sears your lungs, ungrateful for the work being forced upon it, but it brings with it oxygen nonetheless, and you feel the tingling, draining sensation itself slipping away. You do not waver, nor sag with relief. Your work is not done. You push with your lungs, exhaling the bad air, the bad blood, and draw in again. The pain does not lessen, nor does your resolve. You continue to breath, focusing all of your effort into it, when you see the lights behind your eyelids. Unaware that you closed them, you open them to see a face staring into yours. Gloved fingers feel at your neck, you wrist. Questions are shouted at you, but you cannot understand them, the buzzing pain obscuring everything outside of yourself. You are gently lifted onto a hard board and are carried away. While in the air, you allow yourself a brief, bloody smile. Your mother has come to comfort you, only this time you didn't cry.