Running, running, Alex is running through my head and won't stop. He's crashing through the leaves and the thorns and it's all just a green blur, but where are you going? Where are you running towards? 

You're running from the King, the fat King whose stomach spills over in rolls of satin and velvet and flesh. Running far away, but you're only a boy, Alex, what can you do? You can't run forever. 

You're running past Sarah. She's calling towards you, she needs you with her, but you can't stop, can't stop and Mistress Catherine has her already and she's prying off her peasant rags but you can't stop, can't stop or she'll catch you too and give you to the King or worse, keep you for herself. The way she grips Sarah's dark hair reminds you of your own hair, green and tangled in her fingers - she won't let go, no, never.

You're afraid. You've pretended so long to be grown up and strong, you're a man, but you're only 15 and only a boy still. You look so handsome, so strong - well, that was your downfall. Your beauty was a curse, after all. Like your mother. 

Your beautiful mother. Your mother will help you, and you don't know her name or where she is, but you'll find her. You only need to find the woman who looks like yourself. She's 27 now, old, older than you but still young enough to start over. She'll take care of you, she'll love you and murmurAlyaksandr, Alek, my little boy - 

"What, boy, you think she'll come back? You think she'll come back for your pretty little face? No, Alex, your mother's not coming back, not for me, not for you, not for any damn person. She's happy in her own little prison, damn woman, she got what she deserved. She got what she wanted." 

No, you can't think of your father, his echoing words to don't stop, no, not his unyielding hands or his leather belt, no, no, that branding iron, so hot, so close - no!

No. No more. It's gone, now.  

You keep running. 

The End

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