Chapter 44:

Things learned and things Known

The Sequence of Kai

I never thought I’d willingly step back into a place like this. Pitch black, the stench of death and near silence. All I can hear is the shaking of the train’s body as it fights against the tracks.

One, two One, two One, two.

The second step never comes after the first. How am I meant to know I’ve even left arm’s breath of the door?

One, two One, two One, two.

Of course I don’t blink, darkness reminds me of what it was like to sleep. When there are no perceivable details your mind starts filling them in for you. Unstoppable mental paint dripping across your irises, staining your mind with things you think you can see. This is why it’s better to keep your mind preoccupied with things like sex or murder. If you don’t keep your vision red, you start seeing colours you’ve never seen before.


Chasing is a kids' game. I haven’t chased since I was a kid. When was that? A long time ago for sure. I grew up… somewhere not conducive to chasing. The only time I was able to have that kind of fun is when we visited family down the country, before they stopped being family anyway.

K a i hurry up!”

A cousin of mine waves at me from the other side of a farmer’s fence. Their face is an incoherent blur but that doesn’t matter. They probably look nothing like me, cousins never do.

I run over to the fence being careful not to trip on the uneven terrain, a hard task in this underdeveloped body.

“You city boys are always so slow.”

I haul my body over the fence and scrape my elbow landing on the other side. The skin is hanging off a little bit like a drop of water that’s about to drip from a tap. I’ve hurt damaged myself pretty badly.

My cousin is nowhere to be seen when I push myself back to my feet but by instinct I know which direction to head. This is meant to be something like a memory after all, I remember where I went the first time.

Run through the fields with horses, avoid the bulls and cows.

That’s what they we were always told by their our families. Not because they cared about the dangers of crossing a bull wearing a red jacket but because the owners of the horses were less likely to interrupt a night of drinking with complaints of wild children trespassing on their property.

“This way, this way!”

My legs begin to move faster and faster, against my wishes. I need to catch up with my older cousin, even if that means running. The cousin was right, after all, I was slow. I hate going outdoors at all, never mind the open fields of the countryside. That’s why I never went to family gatherings when they were forced upon us. I stayed with my father, who was secretly glad for the excuse to not meet with his wife’s relatives ever again.

By the time I reach the other end of the field where the cousin had been, they are gone. I’m close enough now that they aren’t calling out to me anymore. They tried to escape through a gap in the trees that separate this field from their parent's property. It’s gotten late enough that they’ve decided they’re bored of messing with me. I remember a few times I was left out here alone chasing air for hours until someone came looking for me after dark. It seemed an exceedingly cruel thing to do to a little girl boy like me, but they didn’t think of it that way. They were bored or hungry or both. That meant it was time to return home.

Family aren’t friends. They’re people you make do with.

I learnt a few ditchings ago that this gap in the trees was their shortcut home. They never brought me out through it, probably because it was meant to be a secret. Through the gap their back is visible, very slowly getting smaller as they saunter back toward their home.

This next detail I’m not certain is real. As I race to follow them through the gap, I notice some wasps buzzing around my head. Now did I really notice these wasps on the way in or is that something I only remember now, knowing what is to follow? What kind of girl boy would charge straight into something they knew would hurt?

I’m certain the next detail is wrong. The way it goes in my head, I jump on the wasps’ nest as soon as a notice it, but that can’t be right. I remember being so afraid of wasps, my mother was deathly allergic to bee stings and it instilled a fear of flying insects from a young age. So I’m certain I must not have noticed and stepped on it by accident.

As I step out onto the other side, I can see the hornets begin to form a tornado in the corner of my eye. I have destroyed their lives so they will repay me by buzzing in my ears for the rest of mine.

“Hey! You tried to ditch me again!”

The cousin tries to retort but I can’t hear them. When they don’t receive a response they turn back to get one but the anger on their face is quickly replaced by fear. They trip over themselves and end up on their back.

“Kai! Run! Jump in the lake! Do something!”


“All of those wasps, they’re stinging you!”

“I know, it’s annoying.”

“Doesn’t it hurt?”

“Why do you think that? Because these things have hurt you before?”

I take a step forward but the cousin does not move, paralyzed by fear and awe.

“You are scared of wasps because their stings hurt, that is your experience. But when did you learn that you could be scared? A child still cries the first time it is separated from its mother, that is something it does not have to discover.”

I never learned to hurt, I’ve just always known.

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