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A Warm Candlelight

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❛ The inner fortune of people is

like colorful light which shines through colored glass

This pleasant everyday life is

like a warm candlelight ❜

- Vogel im Käfig, Hiroyuki Sawano

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Most people considered their life a warm candlelight, it was precious yet fleeting and offered warmth and protection against the unknown dangers of life. It was a beacon of hope, a guide.

But Zeke never considered life that way.

Perhaps the last recollection that came close to that light in his life was the comforting memory of an old friend. What was his name again . . . he couldn’t even remember.

What he did remember was a boy who’d lived next to their house. He couldn’t have been a year older than Zeke at the time. The two boys played together in the yard and simply enjoyed the joys of life. Until, one day, the boy disappeared from the face of the earth, never to return again.

Zeke spent most of his time after that alone in his room, burdened by a thousand questions. Back then he wondered, why did the boy never return? He hadn’t even left a letter to say his goodbyes.

Then came that day. When his father asked Zeke to follow him downstairs. That was the day Zeke’s childhood died. That was the day the boy called ‘Zeke’ had died.

Grisha opened the book of Ymir and recited the ancient oaths, declared Eldian history as true by simply by pointing his finger at the old drawings of their ancestors. Zeke was not supposed to question the source at hand, his parents said that he was supposed to learn, and fight for it.

From that day on Zeke knew that he would have to become a symbol. The candlelight, the beacon of hope for his people, the Eldians.

With his father busy at work and his mother cooking warm stews at home, Zeke would often wander the streets alone after his straining warrior training. His body and limbs ached with every step.

One day, Zeke stopped in front of the building next to their house and found himself staring into the window, desperately looking for a sign of his lost friend. He walked around the house for what seemed like half an hour and even snuck into the neighbor’s garden to look for him. There was not a signle sign of him there. Wiping a single tear from his eyes Zeke ran back home.

“Zeke, are you okay?”

His mother would ask him when she saw him staring into empty space at the dinner table.

“I’m fine.”

“The neighbors have been saying you’ve been sneaking around their house lately.”

The boy held his breath, cheeks visibly now overcome with a flush of red color of embarrassment. They had seen him?

“Huh?”

“You know what your father said, Zeke. No more distractions. You’ve got to study, and we don’t just sneak into someone’s garden without asking.”

“I know. Sorry.”

His room felt cold that night. The chest just across the room that contained a hundred of children’s toys had remained locked as per his parent’s request. But this time around, Zeke would wait until deep in the night, when his parents were fast asleep, to sneak out of his room. He knew exactly where his father kept the key, in the third drawer of the cabinet in the hallway.

Once he had retrieved the key, Zeke rushed back into the safe comforts of his room and closed the door as quiet and gentle as he could. He knelt before the chest and unlocked it in one go. Within, he found a monkey plushie and a blank sheet of paper.

The next day Zeke was seen playing outside in the yard, screaming, and running around with his monkey plushie tugged tightly in his arms. At one point he stopped, laughing and giggling to himself.

“You see, Thomas?” Zeke beamed at a sketch that he had glued on the fence outside. It resembled the childish depiction of a boy’s face. “Even if I’ve got to train harder now, I think playing with you is still fun.”
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“Yeah.” Thomas said. “You’re my best friend, Zeke.”

The two of them spent the rest of the afternoon playing outside until it was time for dinner.
Zeke took the sketch from the fence and let out a sigh.

No more distractions.

“I’m sorry, Thomas.” He said. “I have to leave. It was fun while it lasted.”

“It’s okay.” His friend answered with a smile. “Maybe I’ll come back again soon. You can do this, Zeke. I’m counting on you.”

“Bye-bye, Thomas.”

“Goodbye Zeke.”

As the wind picked up Zeke allowed the paper to leave his hands. Just like before, his friend disappeared from the face of the earth, swayed away by the wind.

Even if Thomas had only been part of his imagination, he had been Zeke’s fleeting, warm candlelight.

And the only childhood friend he remembered.


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