I was given to my owner on his thirteenth birthday. He was so happy to have me. I was sturdy leather and laced tightly. His father had given me as a gift. He was instructed to always put me on in the traditional manner, right foot first, then left. Lace left, then right. The lacing served as a reminder to tie his tefillin, granted to him the same day. He was nothing, if not a devout boy. He ran and played with me nearly every day. For certain holy days I was taken off, but I always was used again the next day. Together we explored the river near the village and ran from the farmers ,after making 'swords' out of branches off their fruit trees. I was well cared for. Every week I was taken off and washed lovingly. Then one day I wasn't put on. Was it a holy day, I somehow missed? I did not know. But the next day I was ignored again. For a week this continued, and I had grown resentful. Why was I abandoned? Had I been replaced? Had my owner caught ill?

On the eighth day, I was placed on again, but my owner did not move with the bounce he once had. He was slow and calculated. Every movement was as little as necessary to accomplish a task. I learned what had happened. His father, an outspoken member of the community, had not lain down when he was ordered to. He was charged with inciting a riot, and hung. The town had been overrun. I fear for my friend's future. I hope one day, he will play again, as he used to. My owner's mourning period had passed, and he could once again place me on. I noticed immediately that something was different. The lacing was tied in the wrong order and the tefillin was ignored. His faith was shaken, his spirit broken. His hope for the world, crushed. I will have to be optimistic for him. He needs a friend.

We are to leave when the sun rises. I do not know where. I hope it is nice. The men here are all angry, shouting. My friend deserves a smile.