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Make the Pain Fly Away

Birds with large brains relative to their size are better able to solve problems and respond to changing environments.  Those with smaller brains, on the other hand, appear less capable of behavioral adaptation.  As a result, they appear to be declining in number.

—The Second Korus of the Sapphire Tree


Perched atop Brixton’s elevated train tracks, Nigel stood at the edge of oblivion, staring down at a target he knew he’d never hit.  He didn’t wonder if he could jump that far, nor did he fear what would happen when he missed the window twenty feet below.  It didn’t matter.  Anything was less painful than facing his classmates with a mouth full of stitches, or confessing to his father what really happened at Westminster Station.  Given his options, oblivion sounded rather pleasant, actually.

His life was already a train wreck and, as one of its victims, he lived with its agony on a daily basis.  The pain of abusive parents, of never being good enough or smart enough, of never having anyone to talk to, of having mates who were more afraid of him than actually liked him…It was all pain as far as he was concerned, fuel he simply converted into anger when confronted by others.

“You sure about this?” Sal called out.  Nigel glanced at his scrawny mate who looked like he belonged underneath a rock.  Though he goaded Sal at every turn, he actually felt sorry for the bloody orphan.  How Sal could follow him after he’d taken a knife to him, he’d never figure.  Sal must’ve felt more pain than he did or—perhaps worse, less—and that said a lot about his so-called “friend.”  And here he was about to leap off the same train trestle with him.  Now that was loyalty…Or was it friendship?  More likely it was fear.

For Nigel it was all about easing the pain.  Sometimes that meant sharing it; sometimes that meant inflicting it.  But somehow you had to get rid of it.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” he yelled back.  “Let me show you how it’s done.”  With that, Nigel Hawkins took a running leap and jumped into the blue, Brixton sky.


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