You never really knew your father; he died when you were only four. You have flashes though. You know, those childhood memories that flash in your mind like a kaleidoscope or those paper books that tell a drawing in stick figures if you flip the pages fast enough? That's the best way you can ever describe them. And only ever if you've had too much to drink and someone asks or brings up something to remind you.
You'll see your father lifting you up and setting you atop his shoulders. Or you'll see a tall dark figure standing in front of a stove, turning back to make funny faces while they cook breakfast. You know it's him, your dad. Though you can't remember any more than that. Just flashes. But they pierce your skin when they come, like a thousand knives leaving little nicks and scrapes—little scars across every inch of your body.
It hurt. Mostly because what follows the memory is a sunken, hollow feeling in your chest where a proper father's love should have been.
Your mother got sick a few years later, diagnosed with early onset dementia shortly after your ninth birthday. Her memories went first. When you used to ask her to tell you about your father, she always told these grand stories, enigmatic tales of the wondrous man that was Jackson Nibert. But after her diagnosis, it was like the memory of him spilled out of her head. Until eventually, she didn't even recognize her own son.
You'd approach with a meal in hand, and she'd cry out in horror at someone she didn't know being in her home. She'd scream and yell, go for whatever was closest and throw it at you, cursing you as an intruder. It started happening so frequently that you even dropped out of school to be able to pay for a hired nurse to take care of her. A stranger, yes, but someone she could get to know every day, whose heart wouldn't break when there'd be no recognition in her eyes when she looked at them.
You hired the nurse on a Monday, packed a bag filled with clothes and what little possessions you owned on a Tuesday, and left a note telling her you loved her that night. You cleaved the piece of your heart that had always belonged to her and set it on the kitchen table, and never looked back once you left through the side door.
She'd be better off, you told yourself, and so would you.
You are a boy to whom the world has never been kind. No breaks offered and no relief ever given. It has been constant loss and pain for as long as you can remember, so much so that now you are practically a walking, talking open wound—festering from a persistent lack of recognition or treatment of any sort. But you do what you do best: bury it deep within, swallow any sort of emotion that feels like it's too much or too poignant for you to acknowledge.
This, of course, leads to explosions of epic proportions, and now that you've met Peter and his crew, you've earned the reputation of a hot head and a menace within his ranks. Rage knows no better home than the one its found within the boy from One who nurtures it so well. You feed it with the constant threat of a storm that lies in wait within your bones, ready to swing or strike or cast a thunderous execution at whoever dares to dance on your last nerve.
Such loss of youth has turned you into a beast caged within that of a boy and you've spent the last few years trying to break free while everyone around you persistently tries to find a bigger and better lock. But if you know anything, it's that the monsters who haunt us and the demons we carry always win.