This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15: 12 & 13 - The Bible
Concerning Colors: The Colors of the Heart is a spin-off series of my ongoing series The Melodies of the Heart. From time to time, I've hinted at a larger world. Since there is a large and colorful cast of characters to The Melodies of the Heart series, I felt that it's only right that the reader is given a fuller, deeper look into the often hinted background of the colors. In Melodies of the Heart: The Birthday Wish a character mentions a boy who was slain one Halloween night. This story is an account that is told by one of the teens, now an adult that was present that fateful night.
There is a very special room on the third floor of the manor house. A room that has been set aside to honor the memory of those who have passed from this life to the other. In that room, one will find a dozen or so small shrines, each on sacred to the memory of a person who died before their time. One of those shrines belongs to a boy who abandoned the bloom of his youth to obtain the laurel crown of sainthood.
His name was Donald Albert Sidney, but we called him Daisy. He was killed on Halloween in the year two thousand. His story is one I'm proud to tell, as I was there when he drew his last breath. I'll go as far as to say, I held him close as he drew his last ragged breath.
Daisy was a brooding and silent boy, he had few friends and those he had often remarked that he often seemed to keep them chosen few at an arm's length. But those who could overlook his brooding and silent nature would find a kind and gentle soul who just wanted to be loved and cherished. And above all, he wanted to adopt, he like me had been born into the system and came to the manor house shortly after turning ten. Most children that young are adopted within a month mostly by a member of the staff. The tween and teens are within a year. We staff try to make each child feel at home. And often being adopted is the anchor they need and deserve.
I myself was adopted a year into coming here. Daisy though was a rare case, in some rare cases, a child does not bond with an adult or they just slip through the cracks, despite the best efforts of the staff. But then again, even God can not catch all the fallen little sparrows.
And so at fourteen, five years since his coming and two after my own adoption. Daisy remained along and withdrawn. In desperation, he turned toward the Church. Even the most devoted adult marveled at his devotion. Daily he attended the Mass and prayed the Rosary. And between Mass and services, he would spend his free time, kneeling down at the communion rail. Praying silently or just peering toward the bruised and battered body of Christ as he hung upon the Roman Tree.
I was sixteen at the time and starting to test the water if you will. Sundays where days to sleep and lay around the house, a twenty-four hour period to recover from the wild parties of Friday and Saturday. Yet like clockwork, he would rise with the sun, wash his face, and change into an old navy blazer and a fading pair of jeans and an old pair of penny loafers and somehow he would tam his hair. And be off to attend Latin Mass at the local Roman Catholic Church, Our Lady of Sorrow.
He once told me, he was considering the priesthood, maybe even becoming a Jesuit once he finished schooling. But then, he told me, there was something deep inside him, something he was wrestling with, a sexual desire that might prevent him from entering the priesthood. One he was trying to overcome by attending Mass on a daily basis.
I shrugged that remark off at the time. The two years between us now seemed like the length between the Earth and the Moon. And Halloween was fast approaching, so my mind was on other things than trying to comfort my little brother who was.. Painfully searching his soul for imperfections. And any imperfection he found would be noted and worried over till he could make a confession and receive absolution so he might receive the body and blood in a state of grace.
While many will consider this devotion to the faith. But I saw it, as a form of sadomasochism. Instead of resting in the palm of God, he twisted and withered under his gaze. Instead of the Church is a place of respite from the troubles of the world, it instead became a place of torment. The guilt I think ate away at his soul. And instead of being his kind and understanding big sister, I mocked and teased him endlessly over his supposed guilt. Yes, it was an underhanded move, but I was a real pain in the neck at sixteen.
But Halloween was soon upon us. And the world turned from green to varying hues of orange and yellow. The first taste of autumn could be felt in the morning and late afternoon. The hours between early morning and late afternoon were still hotter than the dog days of summer. Another sign of the approaching holiday was the produce section of the local supermarkets started to offer apples, pumpkins and other autumn crops
Halloween costumes of all kinds were starting to appear on the racks of the local Five and Dime and Big Box retail stores. Most of us settled on getting out festive outfits from these big, discount stores. After all, your only going to wear a Halloween costume once or twice before you throw it away or donated it to a local charity shop or something. If you're feeling creative you can always assemble your costume out of old bits and pieces of clothing you have to lay around the house.
And if you had some measurable skill with a needle and thread you could always sew your own. That was the route Daisy took that Halloween. You see he had another love beside the Church, Anime had recently landed on our shores, bringing with it those much loved and now considered classic titles of "Sailor Moon", "Outlaw Star", "Big O", "Dragon Ball Z" and who could ever forget that one cartoon that started the craze "Pokemon".
Now at the turn of the millennium, the anime community was scattered. The public access to the Internet was still in it its infancy, mostly reserved for college students and professors. And the few conventions there were, where small private affairs.
The Internet was still in its infancy. Along with the Erehwon Anime and Manga community. Cosplay was almost unknown and unheard. What Manga there was on the market had been 'Flipped'. But despite all of this, Daisy had fallen in love with the popular anime series "Sailor Moon" an anime about a group of girls who transform into superheroes and battle demons. He was so in love with the anime that he even wanted to costume as one of the characters.
That kind of posed a problem, you see now if somebody wants a buy a costume of a certain anime character, there few clicks away. As the Anime and Manga community have grown, and every small town now seems to have at least one annual anime convention. The need and demand for quality and affordable costumes have grown and a market had created to meet that demand. It was not the same back then. At best you had small scale cottage industries of skilled seamstress and tailors turning out high-end costumes and props for those who could afford them. And to be frank with you, nobody drawing twenty-two dollars a week pocket money, the average allowance back then could ever hope to afford a complete set.
But like I said before, Daisy sewed his own costume. He also learned the basics of applying make-up. And come Halloween night he somehow managed to transform himself from a skinny, pale bookwork into strikingly cute anime heroin. We ragged him something hard though, it was all in good fun.
At least we thought it was good fun. I think he hated us for those teasing remarks, they were often cruel and sometimes we intended to cut him deep and wide and we did, adding to his troubles instead of decreasing them as we should have. Teenagers are cruel beings at there core it's only as we mature we lose some of that cruelty, others I'm afraid to keep it.
But as the appointed time drew near, we started to ease up on the teasing. Trick or Treating normally happens between the hours of sunset and full darkness. Sometimes a grace period of an hour or two is allowed. It was nearing dusk when Daisy returned from attending Mass. He had worn his Sailor Uranus cosplay to the service, for one to save time and two because he was quite proud of it. I don't know what the priest thought of it at the time. He moved on to another parish after Daisy's death.
Anyway, around nightfall, we all gathered and like the Fellowship of the Ring we set off on our quest for chocolate and candies. For hours on end, we covered block after city block, filling our plastic buckets to the brim with candy and tooth-rotting treats. Till at last split into two groups. Daisy was to take one group and cover one block of town and the other. We were to regroup in an hour or so and then head home.
I don't know what happens next. Nobody does. But as Daisy and his band small band were crossing the wooden bridge that spanned Deer Creek, they were attacked by a group of thugs. The details of that battle, remain a mystery to us. We do know from the injuries reported by the three attackers and their own accounts the boy fought well.
I like to think, he fought like a lion, too many nights my mind has been plagued with fleeting visions of him being kicked and biting, fighting tooth and nail to buy his brothers and sisters precise minutes to escape. They told us, he told them to flee and find help. And at last, after what must have been a long, heroic struggle the trio ganged up on him and hammered him hard.
And this is where I enter the tale.
The children Daisy was shepherding ran up to me and told me of the fight. Acting quickly I handed the command of the scared flock over to my second and started toward the bridge. My heart was racing, part of me expected the worst, the other hoped for the best.
It took me fifteen minutes to reach the foot of the wooden bridge. Taking a deep breath, I started to make my way across. Halfway there, I spotted him. He was laying in a pool of blood. His face was swollen and his breathing was shallow. Quickly I rushed toward him. His eyes were dim, blood trickled out of his mouth. His fingers were bent, his hand was swollen. His fingers were wrapped tightly around a set of prayer beads.
I just stood there, my mind was blank, I was laying on his side. I reached over and rolled him over and recoiled in horror as I noticed his slide had been gashed open. Blood ran down his nose and his eyes seemed wide open in fear. A few feet from him there laid bare, naked knife, covered in blood. His blood or their blood, maybe both.
And there my little brother laid. I blanked out, I kind of went on autopilot for the next few days. The police came and recovered the body, a funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Sorrow. And in a small, quiet section of the graveyard attached to the parish, he was entombed.
We were allowed to mourn for a few days, but life goes on. His room needed to be cleaned out, dusted and mopped. I and a few other girls volunteered for the task. It was easy going, he had little in the way of earthly treasures. Some we saved, some we donated, some we put into storage. We saved his Pokemon cards and badges, his journal and finally his well worn and read Bible. The Pokemon cards and badges we placed in the shrine room. The journal and bible we boxed up and stored away in the attic.
And there ends my account. I would end with this note. I flipped through his journal, there scribbled onto the pages of the notebook, I learned so much more about the boy's personal struggle, his battle with his inner demons, his hatred at staff at times for being passed over. His sorrow, and his sins, tears stung my eyes when I learned that the boy carried so much guilt, hate, and wormwood in his soul.
In the end, his great sin revealed to me. Locked away in the pages of his journal, written at a slant to the side was a note. A stray thought was written down on a whim.
The note read, "Through his Passion, our Lord brought for us serfs, freedom from the bondage of sin. He closed the door of death. And how with such grace, composer and reverence did he walk the flagstone streets of Jerusalem to his appointed death at Golgotha. May I too, walk with equal grace, composer and reverence this my own passion here, abandoned by friends, forsaken by the world, lonely and forgotten until I meet my own Golgotha."
And I think he did. As I remember his broken and bruised body. One that took so much punishment, more punishment that anybody should take. For they broke several of his ribs and several fingers too. I'm forced to remember those old oil painting that showed Christ after his crucifixion. And that I believe is the handle on the thing. The reason behind his death. A young, lost and confused young boy, gave up his life to save a dozen or so children who only a day before teased him to death. And he did so out of love if heaven exists, then Daisy must have reached it. Maybe there he found the family he deserved on earth.