2010, July 25th

“Did you hear that there has been a request for war, Rion?”

Rion cleared his mind; he wiped his hand on the handkerchief splayed on the desk-edge. This world formed nothing more than messes, black scars on its dyed surface.

War… Rion pursed his lips. War wasn’t the cause of arid, spiked memories.

He massaged his right elbow with his left palm. At every mention of war, it twinged, just a little, the only sensation it ever now felt.

“I did.”

He glanced at his father. Dr. Costello avoided his son’s eyes – curving them up to the ornate ceiling – with some point of his, some manner that lay beyond Rion’s thirty years. Every day, he grew older, but he still never understood his father’s movements. He had no reason in understanding the past.

“They have called us all.”

“I have heard.” He drummed his fingers on the edge of the parchment on which he had been working. He shifted away the paper, unearthing the objects on his desk, paper after paper, and thing after thing. None of it mattered.

Dr. Costello continued, “Every man of good blood this time. Every man of decency.”

“Yes, Father.” Rion tapped his bones. They still held firm, even without another hand’s motions. He tapped his ink-quill, too. “And each of the Costello platoon, I presume.”

Dr. Costello leant back into his armchair. “Certainly. I have some consternation over Phillip, though—”

“That he will not come because of his beliefs—?”

“Correct.” Dr. Costello “In addition to that woman of his. To think that they lie in the name of ‘courtship’! I shall have to talk…”

Rion bobbed his head, forgetting Dr. Costello’s worry the moment his eyes had caught upon a book lying at the end of his desk. He’d left it there from the previous evening, when he had been making notes, but, otherwise, he’d abandoned the book under wafers of war-plan document. He still worked – this time for his father.

One page had a yellowing parchment bookmark triangle protruding. Rion stroked it, thinking; he ignored the memories of his last job, in The College where everything reminded him…

He shrugged the book up, and the memories no longer restrained themselves. No wonder Rion had become accustomed to reading this particular volume, though he had no faint knowledge of why he had taken the book from his study this exact day.

From the page fell a scrap of a letter, discarded once before. Rion read the words in bed if nothing else before realisation coloured his cheeks. He jolted back to his life, and rotated from Dr. Costello, scrunching the torn edge under his fingernails.

“No need, Father,” he said. “I will persuade Phillip. It is the least I will do.”

The least for repaying the ill that he had thrust across Rion years ago.

Straightening his neck and flattening a gelled spike of hair, Rion strode from Costello Mansion. 2010: he would make it a big year.

The End

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