“Not everyone will like you,” she said.
“That’s the way of things. Never show them it hurts.”
I looked at the iron gate before me and thought of spears. A phalanx of invisible soldiers clutching towering spears.
“When can I return?” I said.
“You must always look forward. Behind lies naught but ashes and dust.”
“Once I step through, you’ll be behind.”
She said nothing.
“I’ll miss you,” I said.
“As I will you.”
“You could come with me.”
She smiled. “The price of your freedom was more than I have.”
I looked from her face to the man in the shadows. A glint of gold flickered as he opened his mouth. “Time to go.”
“Ashes and dust,” said my mother, and shoved me into the light.