“Not everyone will like you,” she said.

“Why not?”

“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 cannot.”


“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.

Ryan Stone


In this web of freedom fading,
truths are veiled in layers
of shading; trust and love now
cards for trading, commodities
worth less than gold.

In this reign of pain and tears,
an unguarded moment
echoes for years. Sympathy sings
to deafened ears, while pride
is bought and sold.

In this land where heroes rise,
to fall defeated before
unflinching eyes; of paradise lost
beneath oceans of lies, a heart
is turning cold.

Ryan Stone