(It will be a long, hard journey that involves many worlds.
But for now, the legend of the Phoenix begins, rather humbly, here...)
Momma saz that to lern to rite bettur I got to rite down evryfig that hapens to me in thiz journal (she taut me how to spel that wurd tuday). I dont no how a stopid journal can mak me rite ani bettur but I'm goin to do it becus my mom meid me aniway. She meid me rite the deit at the top of the peig evry time I rite to. I duno y I haf to rite that ither if I'm jus goin to thro it uway latr and firgit.
My name iz Crono. I'm 7 yers old and liv in Trus (I fink that is how itz speled) wif my mom. My mom iz a nis persun ecset wen she maks me rite STOPID journals. We jus muved here frum Marriville (I NO how to spel that becus mom shod me). Marriville iz fur uway from Trus I no becuse we had to tak the feri ovr the ce and it waz a long trip.
Trus iz a net plac but I lik Marriville betur becus al my frendz ar ther lik Casi and Doti and Mat and hez cool. Mat iz the coolist persun I evr met and I waz sad to lev him bihind.
The deciduous thickets rippled with the sea breeze and tinkered in their dances with the tiny scraps of sunlight shed from voids in the cloud-freckled skies. Toads basking near a stoic lake lethargically relayed the melody to which the trees swayed and fawned, and rampant squirrels gingerly tiptoed from one trembling canopy limb to another. One twirled on its haunches and barked the warning call for an intruder: a boy blundering his way through the undergrowth.
His loose canvas shorts and slightly oversized blue tunic snagged his progress through the bramble patches, but the boy's reckless blundering down the practiced forest trail betrayed that he couldn't care less which thorns decided to prick his skin and which left him be. Wedging past two kissing oaks, he emerged from the natural obstacle course onto a secluded lakeside beach.
"Matt!!" he hailed.
Nearby, a slender lad exactly twice the hollering youngster's age started from his seat at the end of a petrified log. Catching his name, he smoothly sprang up, dusted off his back pocket, and discarded a softly smoking white stick from the balance of his lips into the glassy water. Exhaling a dragon-esque breath of pale smoke, he pivoted to spy a glance at the little boy.
"Yo, Crono. Little dude, where's the fire?" his slick tongue responded, picking up the smaller one's unusual state of haste.
Not one to let details escape him, the seven-year-old frowned disdain once he sighted Matthew and pointedly remarked, "In yer mouth, ag'in. I know what you were doin'. Momma says smokin' that stuff's bad for you."
"Yeah, well..." The teen bade his reply by dealing a falling kick to a pebble and watching it sail over the crystal waters. "Wat'chya out here for, little bro? It's a steamer out here today. Thought you'd be with Casy and Dottie fryin' eggs on the sidewalks, heh," he snorted at his own presumption.
Crono shrugged. "Casy already tried that on Aunt Rani's tin roof, but it just ran all over her birdhouse and made 'er yell at us."
"Then why ya out here? Bored already?" Matt guessed again. He squinted through the glaring shards of light that impaled the lake, as if scouring the depths for that which just deserted him.
The youngster glumly hung his head. "...We're movin'."
"Huh?" Matt snapped back to his "little bro," befogged.
Crono's gaze slid over to the shoreline, which mapped the edge of the water a few steps apart from his mud-caked boots. Twitching in their paranoid spasms on the other side of the liquid mirror were the summer's yield of tadpoles, lingering in the shallow reaches of the lake. Perhaps they were just as entranced as the boy by the idle spinning of Matt's snuffed out stick, teetering on the edge of buoyancy in the small pool. Letting his fixed stare relieve his mind of the words he was about to disclose, Crono's mouth meanwhile elaborated.
"...Momma's makin' us move. It's for real, this time. We're gonna go west and liv'in Truce."
Matt was struck dumb. "Whoa, for real? Why?"
"I-I dunno why," the youth was becoming aware that the words were sticking somewhere down his throat, so he rattled off the rest quickly. "I just know we're leavin' next week, and tha's all. Momma didn't say why."
His capacities were fogged by shock and other substances, but the message gradually dawned on the elder lad. "...Truce, huh?" Matt echoed, at length.
Crono swallowed. "...Yeah."
The kid expressed a thoughtful smirk as this was digested, and in a adolescent fit of sympathy, he cursed. "Shit," Matt spat as he sank back onto the log. "That sucks."
There was a finality to his vulgar language that suppressed the need for further words. The two absorbed the tranquil scenery for a pause.
"...Casy and them know yet? 'bout you movin'?"
The boy bobbed his twig-combed pile of red spikes in a nod.
Matt cast a humph over the lake like a net of disgruntlement. "Well'thn that's that, eh? Gonna be a real city-slicker now, aren't'cha?"
The little one's eyes started to burn with tears. "But I don't wanna!" he wailed, and his fists obstinately buried themselves in his tunic pockets, as if he could anchor himself to the earth and never be forced to relocate.
"It ain't fair...!" he began to cry. As futile as it was, Crono turned away to shield his face, lest he look like a sniveling child to his older friend.
The teen, moved by the display, sprang to the boy with a sharp rebuke. "Hey you, stop 'hat!"
"...It jus' ain't fair...!" Crono went on anyway, verging on an outright bawl. "I don't wanna have to move, she can't make me jus' git up and move away jus' like that! I got friends here and I t'ought e'rybody liked me and I don't wanna go to no stupid city where no one's gonna be as cool as you or Casy or Dottie and--"
"Hey!" Stern hands seized Crono's shoulders and gruffly spun him around. Matt met the boy's tear-streaked face with, "You stop that right now, I said!"
"--B-But-!" Crono hiccupped, shaken by the aggressive outburst.
Matt wasn't about to condone whining, however. "--No 'but's! You gonna go off to that city and be a cryin' little wussy boy? Huh?! D'jer momma raise you up that way? How you ever gonna grow to be a warrior like that Cyrus guy you keep talkin'bout if yer a wussy cry-baby??"
Crono's loud objections tapered into piteous whimpering. "I-I don't g-gonna keep cryin'... I can't help it..." he stammered out whatever was on the fringes of coherency. He was ashamed to be caught squalling like so in front of his personal role model, whose motto was a simply stated, "big boys don't cry." The child battled to scrub his face dry with the scruff of his clothes.
Matt backed off and mulled over his extreme reaction. After reconsidering himself, he finally relented. "Aw, all right. I'm sorry, bro. Look..."
He scavenged through the crevices in his own garment and retrieved a small rock, its irregular dimensions patched with sickly green hues. Bending to his knees to level himself with the sobbing kid, he lightly jarred Crono's shoulder to gain his attention and presented him the rock.
"Here. You take it."
The senseless sniffling finally abated, and wide, glistening eyes beheld the unattractive hunk of stone, as if in awe of it. "B-but... It's yer lucky rock," Crono realized.
"Yeah, and now it's yers. Goin' to the city and all, you're gonna need all the luck you can git--am I right, little bro?" Matt flippantly proposed.
Crono stared at his older companion for some time, stupefied by both his abrupt shift in nature and at the very notion of being allowed to keep the prized "lucky rock"--an item with quite a back story, and several smashed windows in its history.
"Can I really have it?" he was nerved to ask, even as his dirty paws reached to claim the treasure.
"Yeah, sure." Matt casually tossed it off and rose from the clay bank.
Crono fondled the stone between his fingers, admiring it. "Cool..."
His fervent scrutiny was jolted by a rough pat on the back. "You'll take care of it, won'tchya, little dude?" Matt addressed him.
Instantly remembering that he was entrusted with a sacred item, Crono stuffed it into the safety of his pocket and assured with a proud grin, "You bet!"
"That's good," Matt began, as if abandoning the topic in favor of resuming his previous pastime. "Now git on outta here," he ushered the redhead off as he settled back onto his wooden perch. "I'll see ya later."
The little boy took his cue to leave and started to waddle off through the unforgiving weeds. "Okay... Thanks, Matt."
Through the scores of underbrush gradually distancing the two, Crono could barely overhear his friend mumbling in frustrated bits.
"Now where'd I put my weed...?"
Yep Mat waz cool. But now I'm al ulon eksept me and my mom and I dont wana go to skul tumorow becus I dont no aniwun thir and I wont haf frends. I mis my frends at home. I mis them ulot.
Wel I ges I shud go to bed now so I wont mis ani skul wer Im goin to lern to rite betur so mabi mom wont mak me rite thes dub journals no mor.
A flash of excitement cleared the face of the little girl questioned. She stretched tiny, eager fingers towards the indicated prize, a cardboard box sealing precious cookies of the chocolate-chip variety. Burbling murmurs issued from her lips, augmenting the giddy gestures.
"Oh, so you want some of these, eh? Sure thing, tiger," the man supporting her in his burly arms extended his free hand towards the overhead pantry, where mentioned cookies were being detained.
"Make her say the word, Taban," interrupted a chiding voice from the woman planted in one of the sparingly arranged kitchen chairs. The thick blue curls crowning her head draped over her lowered eyebrows in wisps as she steadily leered at her husband.
The man, a tall, sandy-haired character, wavered under her icy monitor, and he uneasily shifted his childish burden from one arm to the other. "Aw com'on Lara, it's just one cookie. Don't be so strict."
Lara sighed heavily and fell onto her elbow, which luckily had grounded itself on the dinner table. "But those are reward cookies, sweetie, and she's not supposed to get one unless she says something, and she hasn't... ugh, I'm too tired to argue it..." her sentence aborted mid-way and degenerated into exhausted grumbling.
"Well, I think she deserves a cookie today." Taban leaned back on his hips in order to meet the gaze of the child he was holding. "Don't you, sport?" he directly asked.
The initially returned stare was blank, then it reflected confusion, and Taban could sense past the disproportionately large spectacles tacked onto her face that his daughter was disappointed she didn't have her cookie yet. His heart softened to the little girl.
"Aw Lara, just one? Com'on."
The woman flicked an apathetic wrist towards the stored goods. "Fine, spoil her."
"Hey, there we go." Taban was cooing more-or-less to the child as he finally obtained the box of treats, fished out a coin of dough, and playfully wiggled the snack above the girl's nose, evoking a bundle of delighted giggles. The brawny man shortly chortled, relinquished the cookie, set the child on the wood-planked floor, and proceeded to stretch his back. The girl limply plopped onto her rear and began munching away blissfully, right at the spot.
"See?" the husband grunted as he flexed the sore muscles rimming his shoulders. "It's good to treat her once in a while. We're not animal trainers, ya know."
"Oh, what are we going to do?" Lara began, her disposition far from the simplistic mindset of her offspring, whose ills and despondency could be cured with a mere pastry. "I can't understand my little girl at all! She could write a novel if you gave her a sheet of paper and a pen but she still can't say a single sentence out loud, much less 'cookie'!"
Taban reflected his wife's worries with a frown. "Just give her some time, Lara. She can learn to talk again, just like all the other kids. She just needs a little more time."
"She's seven years old, Taban. Seven years old." Her weighty emphasis on the words crippled Taban's reassuring logic. "Any normal girl her age would be trouble just to shut up! What's wrong with her?"
Lara's mate shuffled his feet sheepishly. "Well, on the bright side, at least it's always nice and quiet around here," he cracked a poor joke.
"You think this is funny?!" Lara snapped abrasively, and Taban checked his tongue.
"I was just sayin'," he reclined on his former argument, "Maybe this will all pass like it did last time. The doctor said it's just a bit of a relapse--"
At mention of the physician an indignant flare compelled Lara to launch from her seat, but her leaden legs anchored her to the chair. Muddled by this crucial hindrance, she elevated her voice instead, vocally compensating for the handicap. "--Oh, yes, the doctor! Let's just listen to the doctor, shall we? The same doctor who said our baby girl was... a... a retard! Let's just listen to that rubbish!" her raving careened into a cynical tangent.
Assuming the brunt of her sarcasm was a comment on his gullibility, Taban felt personally insulted. "Autistic," he attempted to correct the crude terminology. "He never said 'retarded' and you damn well know it. Don't start throwing blame around."
Discouraged by his tone, Lara discarded the scapegoat and was reduced to crying for pity's sake. "I'm so sick of this! I feel like my life's falling apart around me! Just when that whole stupid incident with the book is gone forever and things are just going back to normal..."
Teardrops welled in her eyelids as she rambled on. "...Then there was that forsaken accident and I can't walk anymore, a-and..." She dramatically threw her hand down towards the child. "...she hasn't spoken a word since... I can't even get up and make my own breakfast anymore, Taban!" Lara wailed in despair.
"I can't even..."
Whatever was going to fill that space was rejected by a fit of self-loathing sobs, and Lara buried herself into her arms, the overbearing circumstances she just recounted crumbling her spirit.
Taban grimaced with a pang of compassion. His heavy hand landed delicately on her shoulder. "It's alright, Lara. Things'll be okay..."
Meanwhile the girl, being satisfied as she was with her cookie and thus oblivious to most of this, refrained from her half-devoured treat once the room's temper had quieted. A bemused stare regarded her mother, sulking over the kitchen table, and her father standing at her side, trying to offer consolation.
It was not outwardly apparent that she understood any of these happenings, but the little girl did display empathy to a degree, for the next event to startle the emotionally frail Lara was a tapping on her knee. She peered through a veil of drooping hair at her daughter, who wobbled up and humbly proffered the remainder of her chocolate-chip morsel.
The red-eyed woman repressed any further outbursts with a sniffle. "What, dear?"
Taban quickly picked up the hint, however, and warmly smiled. "Oh look honey, she wants you to have her cookie."
Lara shakily clasped the stale baked treat, turned it over with an ill snort, and moaned quite audibly while aimlessly thrusting it away, "I don't want a cookie..."
Her daughter recoiled a step and her arms shrank up to her chest, like a puppy cringing at its master's violent swings. She then caught the following shriek of pure exasperation.
"...I want a normal life!!"
And Lara collapsed to weep once more. Taban couldn't do anything or supply a single word, spare a deeply rooted sigh that vented sympathy, to alleviate her grief. The child, displaced by the dramatic reaction, shot muddled glances between her mother and the shattered fragments of cookie that met their fate on the kitchen floor.
She sagged to the ground again, defeated, and began to cry.