TWENTY YEARS • by Stu Andrews

30th January

It’s been a month since my return. If you’re reading this, you probably aren’t going to believe what I say in this diary. Sometimes I don’t believe it myself.

A month ago I stepped through a gate. I returned to this world a few seconds after leaving it.

Sure, crazy, what’s the problem? I hear you ask.

The problem is what those few seconds were.

Twenty years.

10th February

I went back to the gate again today. My heart so desperately wishes to return. I stepped through. Nothing. Obviously.

I am so alone.

23rd February

I’m in my first year of University. And I don’t know what to do. I was top of my year at the end of school.

But that was twenty years ago.

28th February

A boy talked to me today. I can’t help but think of them all as kids. I mean, sure, I’m in the body of an eighteen year old. But ..

I had kids of my own.

Twenty years.

2nd March

I’m desperately alone.

Went to the gate again. I’ve gone back every single day. Nothing.

16th March

Dreams in sleep and memories in waking hours, they remind me of all that was. Those few seconds. Twenty years.

I was the greatest warrior in all the lands. I’d been champion of mighty King Barack The Blackened. I’d married Prince Ryan, his son, on the steps of the Glass Temple.

Twenty years.

29th March

I failed a test today. It all seems so pointless.

I was Garshua, Light of the Elves. A child of prophesy, born out of the world, come into the world, at the time rightly appointed.

We had children.

Twenty years.

2nd April

Mum and Dad came to see me today. They’re worried, as you can imagine.

Haven’t told them about anything real. Nothing that happened. They wouldn’t believe anyway.

After they left I went to the gate again. I prayed so hard. But nothing happened.

I miss Thomas. Brandon. Christine. Moira. Saul. David. David most of all. He was my heart.

Will I ever see them again?

7th April

Had a fight with Mum over the phone today. She sees me as an eighteen year old. What can I do to convince her I’m not?

I’m never going to see them again. My dear hearts. The children. David, my best friend.

I’m so alone.

20th April

Every Daughter of the Blade was special. But I was gifted beyond even the special.

Rhianna, the King’s Blade before me, knew the first moment she laid eyes on me. For my ears alone, she whispered those words. “When it happens, do not hesitate.”

It was four years before I understood what she meant. Of course, she died. I didn’t hesitate.

The next year I fought Garamus. King of the Dragons. And after I had defeated him, we spoke of many things. Magic. Life. Darkness. And other worlds.

Twenty years.

29th April

I feel stupid for writing it again. Every day I visit the gate. Today was no different than the last.

Thomas was my eldest. He shone bright. Strong. Courageous. Humble. I think we pushed him too hard. And Brandon, oh.

Brandon died when he was seven. I cannot ..

3rd May

Brandon was born under a marvellous sign. His was to be the reign of Love and Peace. But he died.

Christine was joy. Laughter. Freedom and spirit.

I miss them so much.

Moira my princess. Dark of hair and troubled of mind. Intelligent beyond compare. She had just told me about her struggle with magic, that night. I stepped through the gate, completely unknowing.

Twenty years.

12th May

Saul. He said his first word that day. Such a bundle of wonder. Oh ..

27th May

I’ve made a friend. Sharon has been helping me with Chemistry. I finally relented and sat with them at lunch today. It’s so very strange. Being at school.

They’re all just kids.

Just realised, I didn’t visit the gate today.

3rd June

Sharon now has a boyfriend. I’m so old. I feel like her mother.

I can’t help but see Christine in her. And want to protect that.

Help me! I’m so alone.

14th June

David fills my dreams. And my waking moments. Memories. Thoughts. I miss his laughter. His kiss. I miss him.

I stayed at the gate for a long time today. Walked away without opening it.

30th June

I’m leaving. This cannot be all that life in this world can give me.

I killed a man tonight. A group of college boys were out of their minds drunk, and thought they’d get rough with Sharon and myself.

My body may be eighteen, but my mind remembers what to do.

Twenty years. I picked up a stick.

Memories flashed into reality. I was on the field of battle.

Blood, death, chaos. They walked with me.

Sharon was crying. Looking at me like I was a freak.

I am a freak. I’m nothing that this world has ever seen.

Twenty years.

I’m going back to the gate. Taking the Journal with me.

30th June, I guess

I stepped through the gate.

Towering before me, immense and old, old beyond reckoning, was a Heart Tree.

There was nothing else but grass and undulating hills. No gate behind me.

David had planted a Heart Tree in our courtyard.

I miss him. I miss them all.

So alone.

Stu Andrews. Husband. Father. Story Teller. Often mistaken for a silver-back gorilla due to excessive amounts of body hair and large shoulders.

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