"You're scarin' away the fish now!"


Those days had been so peaceful. Warm, gentle, spring days that were never wasted away. Along a river bend, with rich, green grass lining along the shore and the sky above us in a boundless ocean of blue and white cotton clouds, we were at peace. Our father would be in the midst of the river, the soft current that was never strong enough to push us along, even when we were babes, brushing along his pants and fishing boots. In the light green of the river, the sun sending light glimmers that reflected off his fishing pole, I always noticed that our father was a beautiful man. He didn't have any kind of bulk of muscle anywhere, rather he was a slim man but very tall. But to make up for that lack of muscle he was very intelligent. He never failed to catch the fish that floated along the river, their bodies light small flickers of moving silver that my brother and I chased, and that our father scolded us about.

But he was indeed beautiful. His features could never truly be described as handsome from my memory, but it was as if he was given a woman's face. His skin was smooth, his lips pink, his blonde hair wavy that touched along his eyebrows and curled under his ears, and his bright blue eyes that were as gentle and warm as his manner was to us. At times like that, I often remembered the days when we go down to town and we would catch a girl trying to flirt with my pa. He would gently tell her to stop her advances, with a smile that was as genuine as his truthful stare and the girl would immediately feel at ease and leave him well enough alone.

And then there was my brother, Kyle. He was much more adventurous then I was, and always found some unique way to get in trouble. He and I would watch our father for a moment, I believe because we had an understanding on how lucky we were to have a father like him, so that then we had to sit down and let it sink in. But soon after our Pa would laugh at us to play and go do at least something that regular boys do, so we would go into the river with him and find our treasure.

We have had it for years and it was still as precious to us when we had first found it. After frightening away several fish that our father would sigh about but said nothing, we would find it. It was a rock. But it was definitely not any regular rock. The top of it was round, and smooth from the years the river had eroded it, the rock being about the size of a basketball. It seemed normal enough until we flipped it over to it's flat side and you could see within that it with held a large cluster of rhinestones that sent thousands of mini rainbows in every which way that would dazzle our eyes. We would 'ooh' and 'aah' over it as the sun continued to hit it and send a new cast of rainbows for us to admire.

Our Pa would smile down at us, watching us with his warm eyes as we gave him goofy smiles that showed how pleased we were of our treasure. Only the three of us knew of it. And every time we went to the river, we walk around stealthily, to make sure no one was following us so we could gather it from the river and stare at it again. But luckily, no one lived near the river except us so we truly didn't have any reason to worry about it.

Often we would beg for my Ma to come with us down to the river but she would often complain about the bugs and how she'd rather stay in the house. My Ma was real different from my Dad. She was pretty too, but she wasn't as warm as Da. She would always welcome us home with warm arms but now that I look back upon it, it seemed rehearsed more than anything. I obviously didn't notice it back then. But I do know she liked me more than my brother. Unlike my brother, I had the same color hair as my mom's. A full head of red hair that was so bright it seemed nearly like it was some weird shade red-orange. My brother had my father's hair which I often I wished I had too. The feather-like blonde hair, that brightened in the sunlight like gold.

But from what I could see, we were happy together. As long as we had each other we were able to keep living together with no one close without a miles walk. There in the midst of the woods next to our personal river, we were happy.

Or we were.

Pa died when we were ten years old. It hurt us pretty bad. Kyle was the most torn up about it since he had been with him at the time. Though I didn't know all the details, it seemed Pa was killed while they were hunting in the woods along the river. Something like his gun had gun off while he was trying to clean it and it fired on him right in the face. Ma was the one that found them while I was at home doing some of my homework. I was always confused on why she had been there in the first place but Kyle had his own theory.

He believed Ma was the one that shot Pa, but I couldn't believe that. And he and I would get in a lot of fights about it.

"I was there! I'm not blind! I saw her! S...She shot, Pa!" He would scream at me but I would just shove at him with a, "Damned liar!"

For a year, he continued to say that and he even confronted Ma about it while we were eating Thanksgiving dinner. Ma was speechless. Her mouth dropped and she would sputter something before she got angry and sent him to his room without dinner. This just made the relationship between them get worse. Kyle didn't trust Mom to do anything for him anymore. He'd cook his own food and everything. I really didn't understand what was going on anymore. What had happened to our family?

Then one night, a few days before Christmas when we were in our beds, he shook me awake and told me he was going to the woods so he could find evidence or something like that and that he was going to get our rock so we could celebrate with it. I immediately told him it was a bad idea, but he wouldn't listen to me. He just dressed himself in his winter clothing and coat since it was snowing outside and said he would be back. Since I would never tell on my brother, I only said for him to be careful.

"Don't worry, Jacob. Just make sure Ma don't follow me." I nodded at his request before he finally left, escaping from the back door. But he wasn't lucky, mom saw him trying to leave and after yelling what he was going to do, she cursed. This was the first time I had ever heard mom cuss before and she put on her winter coat and went after him. What terrified me about this moment, is that she took her bat with her.

She yelled for me to stay put and I did...for a time. But thirty minutes later, I couldn't stop myself from going after them. Forgetting my boots and only throwing on my sneakers, a pair of jeans, a thin t-shirt and my winter coat before I went after them.

"I'm so sorry...Kyle. If I had believed you maybe then you would not have went...Damn my own idiocy..."

His cry was wild and high like the cry of a banshee that lost its only child. It reached like hands along the river, frightening the animals that was still about the cold winter land of the woods and caused the bears in their caves to grumble before turning over to sleep again. Jacob clenched his hands along the thick branch, the creases and rises pressing against the cold skin of his palm, sending small flints of pain with every splinter he was given. But he was mad and so the pain meant little to him.

Only thing he could feel was his chilled cheeks that his tears had dampened and the need to hurt something. Anything. He swung the branch toward the muzzle that got too close to his brother's limp hand. But as soon as the wolfen terror sprang back, another came from the other side to nip at his sibling's shoes. They couldn't have him! He would never let them take him away! Jacob swung with eyes near blinded by tears, another cry strangling out from his throat as he struggled to scream and cry out at the same time.

If only Kyle would get up! Why was he just laying there?! Jacob swung the branch at the few wolves that had managed to surround him. They had been attracted to the large amount of blood, he knew that at least. The battle between the starving pack of wolves and him last hours, perhaps even more then that, for the sky had gotten dark and his body was sagging with exhaustion. But he didn't stop fighting back, knowing if he gave up, his brother and him wouldn't have a chance of survival. His dark hair was plastered along his face from his sweat, his eyes red from crying and the continual flow of tears. His coat that had been ripped up during the battle was on the ground now and his shirt was had slits that was darkened with blood from the nips the wolves had managed to get on him.

But he didn't even know he was tired, he just knew that he had to keep going and before he knew it, he managed to get a wolf in the muzzle as hard as he could. It fell with yipe and without waiting he began to smash his thick branch into its face. With each strike he released a bit of his turmoil in to it until he couldn't decipher how its faced looked before and specks of its blood was on his chest and sweated out hair. The wolves cried out at the sight of their fallen colleague and the immediately turned and ran away from the horrible sight.

Jacob managed to snap out of it when the head of the wolf was practically nothing but without looking at it, he dropped his stick and fell down to his knees. He was exhausted, terrified, and denying the truth deep within his mind. Slowly, he turned his head to look over at his brother and another cry escape him as he peered down at his brother's lifeless body, his head caved in as much as the wolf beside him head was but instead of a stick...he guessed the weapon had been a bat. Uncaring of the wild winds that blowing around him and the snowing falling along him, he forced himself to look at his brother's body, and he finally noticed what had been beside him.

Their treasure. The rhinestones were sparkling with his blood that had spilled into it and drizzled along the small stones. For a moment he could only stare until he felt something bubbling up into his chest and travel up to his throat as if he would vomit. But instead of vomit a laugh came mingled with his crying that reached to the sky but was muffled by the winds. And he stayed there weeping until the snow covered his brother and Kyle was given his small bed of death.

Jacob let out a small sigh, a cloud of frozen air escaping from his lips before lifting above his head, turning into a halo of cold air before it faded away. His small body had gotten so cold from standing in the freezing winter air that he eventually just didn't shake anymore and his eyelids continually tried to droop down, commanding that he sleep. He knew that he should find somewhere warm, so that he may once again get feeling within his body but he feared what would happen if he did. The warmth his body needed was only a foot away from him, his large eyes staring up at the door before him that led into his house. At the thought of entering it, his heart began to thump wildly and the shakes suddenly came onto him once again. What would he say? How would she react? He did not know the answers for any of these questions. But he could not stay out here forever. He had to eventually go within the small cottage with its frosted window panes, and cheap Christmas decorations and do what he came here to do.

He could not help but feel that this was unfair. Jacob was only twelve years old. Why should he have to do this? Around the time he questioned that, he suddenly remembered. It was because adults could not be trusted and if anyone was to do it, it should be him. Jacob knew that in reality, some adults were very stupid and they got more stupid with age rather then smarter. So he had to do it and no one else. With a shaky breath, he lifted his hand and rapped against the door. For a while, he prayed that she would not answer but knew that she would. Already, Jacob could hear her steps rushing towards the door and he feared it. But he did not flee, he stood there rooted to the spot, chewing at his bottom lip that no longer had feeling.

He wondered if he would feel anything again after this. Jacob did not know but within his soul he could feel something changing and warping from the boy that he was. And this was more frightening than anything else he felt, even when the door finally opened to reveal his small frame, it did not compare to the fear of what he was changing into. He refused to look up when the door opened, his eyes stuck to his sneakers, memorizing the scuffs, the discoloring, and the lining of his shoes. He knew it was his mother that answered the door, since no one else lived in this house anymore other then her. And when she saw him, he heard her gasp touch his ears. Probably surprised to see him wearing only a pair of jeans that he had been thrown on and his sneakers, and the piled up snow on his head and that lined along his cold body.

Letting out a small breath, he walked into the warmth of their tiny cottage. This place that he once believed was his home. He had always been a very pale boy but he now appeared ghostly white, his brown lashes seeming as dark as black against the white sheet of his skin. The color of his lips had changed from the light pink and was now a tinge of blue, and the light color of his veins now stuck out against his skin in a variety of dark shades. He looked as if he had almost touched death but he knew who was truly death in this world for him. And it was not the cold wind blowing outside.

After a moment of gawking, his mother finally chose to speak, "What were you doing out there?! Trying to freeze yourself to death?! I swear- look at you! Can you hear me, boy? I'm speaking to you!"

Her hands fell down to his shoulders then slid along his skin until she had a grip on his forearms, the warmth from her hands feeling like they were on fire against his skin rather than the comforting touch he had believed in for so many years. The pain of her hot skin made him visibly flinch, his nose scrunching up and sending wrinkles all over his face. At his unresponsiveness, her hands tightened before beginning to shake him, pushing and pulling him until his shaggy, red hair flopped around and shook the last frozen snow from on top of his head. It felt like his head was filling with air until he was sure his skull was going to expand and he would float away.

But he had something to do before he floated to whatever place he was destined to go. He parted his lips, not licking them like he wanted to, knowing the warmth from his own tongue would hurt as much as her hands did. As he prepared to speak, he begged that the air within his head did not make him float away. But his timing was off and when he attempted to speak, the tall woman shook him again causing him to swallow some of his saliva.

His spit got caught in his throat, throwing him into a coughing fit, that shook his thin frame, and caused his eyes to start watering, the tears stinging him. And though his head was being pumped with air and he was gagging on his own mouth juices, the woman did not stop shaking him. He panicked, a fear beginning to lift into his chest that hurt more than her burning hands that felt like fire. Something must have been thrown from his brain because suddenly the world made no sense.

He simply didn't understand anything anymore. Why did he have to go through this? Would he end up like his brother who slept out in the winter air, the ground his bed, the snow his white blanket, and a stone that had often been a beckon of memories for him, his pillow. He did not want a bed of death, not like his brother. The panic arose once more, his eyes finally lifting up to stare at the thin woman standing above him, her hair was wild around her face, red strands of hair damp with sweat causing the light shade of the hair to seem dark. Her lips were plump with blood from her continual chewing on her bottom lip. Her eyes were wild and jumped around frantically along his face.

For a moment he nearly wondered what she had been doing before he got here but her shaking finally freed him of that line of questioning. He felt as if he was in a middle of a storm, his body and mind in an uncontrollable whirlwind that would leave him wherever it wished but for now carried and twirled him in a violent cyclone. What did he come here to do again? And why was it so important? Why could he not trust people? What was this feeling that was in his chest? Why did he fear it? Why did he fear her?

Why did he fear her?

The question seemed to halt everything as he swore he saw a flash of his brother's broken skull before his eyes, and he remembered the smell of the rotten brains that was splattered against their rock in a splay of pink and crimson and rainbows. The storm ceased or at least he had reached the eye of the storm. His body stopped trembling and the air within his head slowly began to deflate from him. And the energy that he lacked once before suddenly filled his limbs. So, when he rose his arm and slapped her red-painted nailed hands from him, it burned with the amount of force, his muscles that were tight from the cold not wanting to move as much as he did. His blue eyes stared up at her as if he was surprised that she had dared touched him.

His mother's was shocked by his sudden slap, that much he gathered from her cry and flinch, which he could not help but feel some kind of satisfaction about. Jacob now knew that he was able to finally do what he came here to do. He lifted his hand and with a perk of his feet that hoisted him up so he could reach her, his hand plummeted forward towards her cheek.

His fingers were spread out, the air slipping through his fingers as if he could almost catch the wisps if he wanted to before it finally met her cheek with a clap of noise and a burning throb that shook his hand and caused it to tremble. He had placed all his strength in that one motion so he could be sure that she could feel his pain, even if it was just a small bit of it.