I started feeling bitter again about lunchtime, and made for home kicking stones. Why can't I just be happy, forget, I think to myself? Does Vere really want you to be like this all your days? Of course not. And yet I just can't let myself be happy. I can't forget, and I can't forgive - why should I forgive the murder of my only friend, my sister - so I can't be free. Ever. It goes round in circles, and I can't be myself until I have had my revenge.

Revenge? Will that really make it better? Once you've found revenge, says a voice inside me, but it is all but extinguished by vengeance pulsing through my veins. Won't you just feel guilt as well as sadness and depression, if you have your revenge? Or course I won't, my vengeance replies with the satisfaction of power. I'll feel on top of the world. Fulfilled, satisfied. And you'll live regretting your revenge all your life, said the voice. No, I won't. I'll never regret a well-deserved revenge. Never. That's my sole purpose in living on, isn't it? Isn't it? Cruel world, dark grey world who takes so much and gives so little, answer me! Am I or am I not meant for revenge now? If I am not, then why, world, why?

There is no answer.

I kicked the stone again, and this time tripped over my own big foot, collapsing under myself and doubled up on the path.

"I hate you!" I yelled out across the landscape, grown flat and barren on the path back to the village. "I hate you, world! I hate you, life! I hate you, people who persecute me, ignore me for everything! No one understands! I hate you all! Just let me be! Let me live! Let me smile! I hate myself! So much; so, so much! Vere!" I ended on a broken note, but I did not cry. Fifteen-year-old boys don't generally cry in public - even me.

I sat there on the desolate path for gloomy hours, feeling more excluded than ever. Venting one's rage is one thing, and it would have made me feel better. But venting one's rage on a landscape that doesn't hear one's cries, or a page that can't - or won't - talk back, or even a person called Deanna Macpherson who makes me feel inferior because she is so perfect, and I am so horrible - there is no satisfaction. Just pain.

Christmas felt like a bad dream, that place a torturous nightmare, and returning home an even more torturous nightmare. It seemed I could not decide on what I was or what I felt felt, or even what I wanted to be or what I wanted to feel. It was all bitter confusion and despair, and having gone so far along the path I had chosen, or the path my parents had chosen for me, it seemed there was no way back out from the eternal maze of grey clinging smog. It seemed there was just one option: just to carry on down the way that was engulfing everything, burning my soul and replacing it with some kind of haunted spirit.

But that was before I saw the real spirit, late in the afternoon, when it was duller and greyer than before as the white sky turned to blue, and the bushes darkened to black. That's when I saw the real spirit.

The End

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