~ Struggle ~

They’d had to tie him to the Turning Tree for the whole ritual. The bristlerope had rubbed him to the meat everywhere it had touched him, from the struggle. He’d done it to himself.
How do I know the names of those things?
He was back in the cage
not mine. NOT mine.
now and he knew it was the last time he’d get out until they put him in a sack or he walked
out on his own.
Or he could escape. He’d done it once and the burning on his skin wasn’t even as bad as before.
Or you’re getting used to it.
Or he was — no. It was time to go.
But where will you go? What if —
No one in the camp looked at him. He wasn’t even sure if he’d really shouted. He
Steven. Not ‘he’. Steve. Steven. My name is Steven.
Right. Steven.
Steven sat in the cage that wasn’t his and watched the stars, which he still recognized, and repeated his name.