BORN IN THE HEAT OF THE DESERT, MY MOTHER DIED GIVING ME LIFE...
The first thing that Alex sees is the light. A warm, white light that coaxes him up and out of his bed. He doesn't remember what time he fell asleep. He doesn't know what time it is now. There is no use remembering. He cannot look at anything else but the light. It is so bright that it fills up the entire room. But there is something familiar about it. He senses a presence that he is not afraid of. It is a nurturing spirit that beckons him closer. A beacon of hope. He doesn't know how he knows that. He just does. He pushes the covers back and presses his feet to the floor, he can feel cool, white snow under his toes. He keeps his eyes on the light, narrowing them to find its source but he can't make anything out.

He keeps moving forward and the light begins to envelope him. It is kind as it draws him in. It soothes him as he relaxes against its warmth. It is a hypnotizing force that he cannot rebuke. Eventually, he notices a form. He knows it's a woman. There are arms that curl around him. There is a face that he can't quite make out, but he has to look up to see it. It's strange. He is taller than all the women he knows. He doesn't have a chance to ask himself the question when he realizes he's not himself anymore. Not his usual self. He is not Alex.

He is Titus. Six year old Titus. When he recognizes the eyes that look back at him his chest begins to constrict. He sees himself in her eyes. He sees his reflection in her eyes. He sees the sky. He sees time passing by. His face is muddied and red and there are bruises and scrapes on his limbs when he looks down. His scuffed up shoes are unkempt. He feels weak and tired. His ribs are closing in on themselves, stifling his breath as he tries to reach out for the face. It is a face he knows. A face he loves. It is a face he hasn't seen in twenty years. He can't speak, his throat is tight and his bright, blue eyes are dulled by tears as he reaches up to press his hand to her cheek.

"Titus," she says in a voice that belongs to angels. Her arms let go of him and he reaches out for her wrist to keep hold of her, but he is too slow. He stands in the shadow now as she is illuminated, rising ahead of him, floating above the ground. He remembers that gentle smile. He remembers those blue eyes. They are his eyes. He is overwhelmed by her presence and his breath hitches in his throat. She has never come to him before. He wonders why. He reaches out a hand but she doesn't take it. He keeps it there.

"Mom..." when he speaks, it's the voice of a child. He hears the speech impediment of youth -- a quirk that has yet to be beaten out of him. He realizes just how desperate he is to hear her speak again, opening his arms to her. They beg for her to pull him to her warm embrace again, but she ignores the plea. He tries again and he is rebuffed again. The light is getting dimmer and the room is getting smaller and he is still standing in snow. "Mom!" he calls out again, but she is leaving him and her face grows stony and cold. The eyes close and the arms cross over her chest. "Don't go! Mom!"

"Come back!" He lurches forward. Without warning, he sees her age rapidly before him, her face turns to an ashen grey and then to dust. Her body disappears and she is gone. The light is gone. It is dark and he clutches at his heart. He is alone. He is all alone. He screws his eyes shut. He tries to remember. He pieces her face back together but all he sees is ash. All he sees is death.

His face is wet with tears. He has been forgotten. He looks around and he sees the abandoned playground. He sees the snow falling down. He sees Toronto. He sees his street. He sees a crescent moon in the sky. He sees the row of familiar houses. He sees himself, Titus, Titus walking ahead. He is late home. He wears the suit he wore to the funeral. He sees the group of boys that run up behind him. He feels the impact of their fists when they pin him down and strike him. He looks down and sees the bruises forming on his ribs. His hand moves instinctively to cradle the hurt.

He starts to shake and the words that tumble out of his mouth make no sense. He seems to speaks in tongues. "Why?" he begs. "Why have you forsaken me?" The words are not his own. They are older than he is. They are older than his own pain. They are borrowed from a book that he cleaves to when the old need rears its head. The devil on his shoulder, pushing him to the brink. "Just. One. Drink." says the serpent and he wants to. He wants to so badly. He wants to forget. He wants to forget that ashen face but the image burns brightly behind his closed eyes.

His fingers are calloused and the plane of his chest is hard and muscled. He is Alex again. A grown man. He looks back up and the playground has disappeared. He brings his hand to his face and touches his nose. He winces. It is broken. He looks over his knuckles, they are purple and the skin is broken when he turns his palm over his eyes widen in horror. He bleeds from the hands. It is the stigmata. They are the marks left on Christ's body by the Crucifixion. Alex doubles back and falls to his knees in the darkness. He looks up and sees a crypt that reads "LAWSON". There is a statue of an angel with outstretched wings and open arms that guards the tomb. Her eyes begin to bleed...