Episode One: The Horn: Scene 1

It’s not easy being 16. Everyone keeps telling me it’s not supposed to be easy. I wonder if any of them have ever looked in the mirror and had this thought, this strong rising feeling that it’s not their face looking back at them.

Probably not. Most of them have pasts. Have memories. Weren’t found collapsed in an alleyway to wake up in the hospital unable to remember anything, not even a name. I suppose I’m lucky. I could still speak English, could still read and write.

Just, nothing. I don’t even have a real name. Jane. As in Doe. As in the name they give you when they don’t know who you are and it doesn’t really matter because you’re dead anyway.

At least this isn’t a bad place to be nobody and nothing. Here, you’re either some kind of major somebody or you’re beneath anyone’s notice. Big cities are like that. Washington? It’s even more like that. But enough about me. Not like there’s much to say…

I looked up from the blog post. It was just a whine, and I knew it was a whine, but there wasn’t much to say. The people who read it didn’t believe I really had amnesia. Total biographical amnesia, they called it. I remembered absolutely nothing. And they’d never traced my parents, so here I was, the only white kid in a group home in Northeast. The thought depressed me, so I closed my laptop, stuck it in my drawer and went out.

Out, on a summer Saturday afternoon, meant stifling streets. You didn’t go west, into the territory between here and Georgetown. Hispanic gangs liked to roam that part of town. But northwest was never comfortable to me. Never home, and I was pretty sure that was as much to do with being the only white kid in the house as any memories, the edges of which should, I thought, at times impinge on me.

The pawn shop always interested me. One of the things that drew my attention, as always, was the Masonic ceremonial sword in the window. Who had pawned that? Who would even have the authority…I didn’t know much about freemasons, but wouldn’t that be kinda like a priest pawning the communion chalice? However it had got there, it had been there for months, a price tag on it but nobody having the courage to buy it.

Now there was something else next to it, catching my eye mostly from proximity. A battered drinking horn. Must be part of somebody’s RenFaire outfit, but for some reason, my scalp prickled. It was marked with various things, but at the center was an arrow, except that something inside me went “Tyr’s Rune.”

I shook my head, feeling the moment pass and drift away as it always did, but the horn was in there, and the horn wanted me. I couldn’t see the price tag and I had no money anyway. But I stopped, standing there, and then for the first time, I walked into the store.

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