In continuing the saga of this series, I wanted to re-read a few sections of the first book in order to remind myself where I left off with certain characters. Here’s a little bit of a teaser from a latter chapter of that first book:
….He wanted to apologize, to ask forgiveness, but knew that there was too much to forgive. He tried to imagine a life without the control he had gotten used to. He tried to imagine living contently knowing what he did, knowing that it was his fault. He was so very angry at himself for allowing all of this. How had he been so proud, so certain, so wrong as to allow a lifetime as long as this to go without introspection? How had he not seen this.
But he was doing it again. He had thought about this. Deep down, he knew. But all the times that the thought poked its head out, he would turn the device up, stare into the cosmos, travel somewhere far and new, and shove it aside and drown it out. He allowed his desire to overshadow and protect his need to heal, grow, and to look at himself honestly. And now he couldn’t hide from it.
But he knew he would, again. He knew that as soon as this mood passed, he would hide it again, and all would be back to normal. How many times over the cycles had he cried like this, alone somewhere far from anyone else. How often had he thought it was time to give it up. Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands? He just didn’t know. As he thought about this, Camen’s voice interrupted and Mezar was startled into attention. Camen, looking at his old friend with his red eyes, wet cheeks, and quivering lips, said,
“Zuzek, we have a lot to catch up on. We still have work to do. There is much that you, as well as the others, can contribute. Please, Zuzek, work with us.”
Mezar didn’t protest the name this time. He looked at his friend as a decision reached him, and a sort of calm acceptance filled him. He would not let this cycle continue. He would not allow himself to relapse back into a new obsession to drown out the pain, the hurt, and the uncertainty. And in this moment he felt again like the Zuzek Damula he had once been, but yet still unable to erase the Mezar he had inhabited for so long.
And the quivering lips stopped, his eyes, still red, look at Camen with genuine affection and a smile—wide and unrepressed—slipped onto Zuzek Damula’s face as he spoke.
“Camen, I wish you the best in this work. I’m afraid that I cannot join you in it, as I have other plans. Take care, my friend. I’m so sorry, but I cannot help anymore. It’s, too much. Too hard. Perhaps there is something…easier.”
The armor, so strong it had become over the centuries, simply dissolved. And in a moment of sorrow, grief, and resignation, Zuzek Damula lived again. For a moment there, Mezar dissolved and Zuzek sat, with Jul’s arms around his chest as she sat behind him and held him, in the sunshine of disappeared history. The young, ambitious, ideological man lived again. But that man had come to realize that this feeling was temporary, transient, and that reality would flood back soon enough and it would all start again. That reality was too heavy, and so he allowed the moment to linger just a bit more, before the decision would come. Camen started to smile at seeing this, but the smile faded as something in Zuzek’s eyes worried him.
“No more,” was all Zuzek Damula said.
What are you doing? Camen thought.
Zuzek smiled contently at Camen for another moment before he closed his eyes. The crowd around them had gathered and were watching, silent, unsure what to say or do. Zuzek basked in the waning moments of that contentment and then watched for it to begin to fade, as it most certainly would. And as he felt the sadness deep down below, pushing itself through the contented smile the weight of the inevitable grief was too much.
There was no protection from its inevitability, and so with the gravity of memory, responsibility, and with what power he still had, Zuzek happily decided that it was enough. In the moments before that inevitability began to overtake him, Zuzek’s spine shook a bit and he took a deep breath and concentrated.
Any more than that would be too much of a spoiler.