Prologue

You will be a military man…

“You will be a military man,” repeated a middle-aged man in a military uniform several times, looking sternly at the boy standing in front of him.

“But the military kill people! I don’t want to kill anyone!” from the lips of a little boy such words sounded unexpectedly.

The man’s face darkened.

“In our family, everyone is a military. It’s honorable. Our family is proud of this. And you should be proud of it!” seeing that the boy wanted to object, the man added, “go, it has already been decided. You should be proud you will be a man of arms.”

The intelligent eyes of the child looked into the eyes of the father. In the depths of his son’s gaze, he read the word “No!” it began to anger him. The boy was still so small, but no longer obeyed his will. Where did it come from in him? Their family, all the men in it, were military men, and it was considered an honor. But now his son told him things that no one had ever dared to say. His son, his youngest son! Why is he like that?

“Go. And think carefully what you are saying,” the man paused, and then uttered the words that sounded like a sentence, – you will be a military man!”

The boy did not argue anymore, he turned and, leaving, imperceptibly wiped the tears of resentment from his eyes. Leaving the house, he took the bike.

The bike ride distracted him from his sad thoughts. He imagined that this was not a bicycle, but a horse – real, big and he was riding it through the forest. He deliberately rode along a forest path, the unevenness of which and the protruding tree roots tossed the bike, and these exciting sensations, as it seemed to him, of riding a horse.

The forest ended, he rode through the field between the ears of ripening wheat. Ahead, swallows flew low over the road:

“It probably means rain,” the boy thought.

He stopped by a small pond, partially overgrown with reeds and low bushes. The surface of the pond reflected the sky and rare clouds. It was a summer afternoon. The sun was at its zenith. Grasshoppers chirped in the grass. Huge dragonflies circled over its surface, looking for their prey.

The boy sat down at the edge of the pond, a bicycle lying nearby. He mentally imagined that this was his horse, which was now drinking water and eating grass next to him. These thoughts made him not so lonely – after all, his faithful friend was next to him.

His thoughts drifted back to the last conversation with his father. There were many such conversations. At first, everyone laughed at his objections, thinking that he was small and did not understand what he was saying, but then – he felt it internally – they began to perceive him differently.

Mom – he loves her so much. But why does he feel that she shuns him? He sees with what love she treats his two older brothers and his sister, what spiritual sincerity occurs between them when they communicate. And with him – after all, she also says gentle words to him, but only inside he feels cold…

When did everything change? From the moment when he shared with his people that he did not want to be a military man, like everyone else in his family.

No, he is deceiving himself; it started earlier – from the very moment of his conscious perception of himself and those around him. Even then, he felt the rejection of him. He always felt it. Probably, true feelings cannot be replaced with fake ones. He became an outcast, loner.

At first, he tried to fix it. He tried to be closer to them, although their conversations, discussions, and events in their lives, did not attract. It was not interesting and boring for him. But he pretended that he was interested, he tried to be with them.

In order to break down the rapidly growing wall of misunderstanding between him and his family, he began to share with them his experiences, thoughts, feelings, believing that his sincerity will tear down this wall.

But he was wrong! They did not understand him. They understood at all: neither his dreams, nor his experiences, nor his thoughts. His desire to be one with them turned into the exact opposite. He became an outcast. He became completely alien to them. It was painful for him to understand that he was different, that he thought, dreamt, and perceived the world differently. And this was unacceptable in their family.

In an instant, the wall that he tried to destroy turned into an impregnable barrier that he would never be able to destroy in his life…

His eyes became wet again with tears, everything inside was squeezed painfully.

“Mom, Dad, why? I love you so much!”

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The boy cried, looking into the bottomless blue of the sky. His soul cried, never having found the warmth of family love, a lonely soul, suffering in misunderstanding, for which they did not love it…

Then he wiped away the tears with his hand. There was a new feeling inside him. He realized that nothing could be fixed, nothing could be changed. He must be strong. He would be strong!

“I swear I’ll never cry again,” the boy said, looking into the depths of the blue sky.

Footsteps were heard behind, the boy turned. On the path, a teenager, much older than him was standing.

“What are you doing here? This is my place – I fish here,” said the teenager, holding fishing rods in one hand and a bucket in the other.

“It’s not written here that this is your place. I want and will be here,” the boy snapped, getting up and preparing for a fight.

The teenager stared at the boy. The superiority in power was clearly not on the side of the boy, who was small and puny. There were only big, green eyes. But what a fearless – real boy!

“I have an extra fishing rod, we can go fishing together,” said the teenager calmly, passing by the boy, “by the way, my name is Prokhor.”

“Kai,” the boy growled, still expecting an attack.

“Strange name.”

“I hate it.”

“Why?”

“Because everybody says when they hear it like you: “a strange name,” the boy said angrily.

“Then I won’t say like that anymore,” Prokhor said very seriously, “and will you stand there? Take the fishing rod!”

“I don’t know how to fish.”

Prokhor laughed.

“Is it true?” but, seeing the confused look of Kai with a fishing rod in his hand, he calmly said, “I will teach you!”

***

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In the evening, when the caught fish splashed in the bucket, Kai said that it was time for him to return home. Prokhor nodded in understanding and held out his hand.

“Will you come tomorrow? I’ll go fishing here again.”

“I’ll come!”

“So, now we will fish together …”

Returning home by bike, Kai smiled happily, realizing that he was not alone in this world. He found the same as he – an outcast, a loner, someone who no one understood and did not accept.

On that day, they talked a lot, talked about their lives, and shared their thoughts and dreams with each other. On that day, each of them realized that he had found a friend, a friend for life…

Only one thing darkened that day – these were the words sounding in Kai’s ears:

“You will be a military man!”

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