Emerging souls swirl up from life like a cloud of multicolored snowflakes. We hang in the stillness of nonspace, my Brother Cousin Self and I. Two Loci, one of Darkness, one of Light, comparing, judging, choosing the fate of each soul as it passes between Us. Time free, We search out every crystalline facet.
The one before us is small, mean. Its colors are muddy and blurred, neither light nor dark dominating within its pattern. It floats between Us in notime, nospace. I would let it go to My Brother, and He to Me.
"How came you here," I probe? "What path did you follow on your journey?"
The blurred pattern shrinks, closing in on itself. "I didn't do nothing..."it whines. "Lemme alone!"
We seize upon it, feeding in energy until it opens out like a rainbow hued flower. At the center, we perceive a dull, greenish shape of resentment and shame.
"You're a bad boy!" Long ago voices echo and chime amidst disordered facets. "Wait until your Mommy gets home, then you'll get it!"
Image of a small boy, even then ugly and slow, and shards of a broken lamp on a polished floor.
"No, Eldon. Not that way! Draw it like the picture in the book."
The boy, larger, but not as large as the children around him. Hovering near, a shape of fear and a memory of knuckles that sting. Desperate striving to hold the shape in mind, keep it from blurring long enough to put it on paper. Failure, and defeat.
"No, Eldon. You can't come to my party. I'm only inviting my friends."
Hurrying away, face aflame as others laugh. Tears that will not stop, and hiccoughing sobs.
"No, I don't want to dance." Minutes later she is moving to the music with somebody else, and he stands on the sidelines, alone in the cavernous grade school gymnasium.
"Here, I'll trade you six of these for one of those." The older boy grins at him, and he smiles back tentatively as his stamp book fills with worthless bits of paper.
"I saw you! Put that candy back in the rack. If I catch you in this store again I'll call the police!" He runs from the little neighborhood grocery, bumps into an older boy who grins evilly.
"Betcha yer Mom and Dad don't know you've been stealin'."
"What about it?"
"So I ain't gonna tell 'em. Not so long as you pay me not to. How much is it worth to you for me to keep quiet?"
"I... I dunno."
"How much is your allowance?"
The skinny boy becomes a gangling, pimply youth. He reaches eighteen, drops out of school, but there are no jobs. A war is on, and the Army beckons.
"Be good for him. Let him find himself."
"He'll learn to be a man."
Marching in step, rank after rank of uniforms.
"Keep off my heels, Dummy!"
"Hey, you! You were warned about keepin' yer mess kit clean. KP for you, and no pass this week end."
Ill at ease in a poorly fitting uniform, when he does make it to town he hangs around the USO. At last, awash with cookies floating in coffee, he catches the last bus back from town. He sees men he knows, but keeps to himself, trying not to listen as they brag about their good times and their women.