My name is Daniel Jackson.
I don't expect you to know why people stay in places that are entirely awful. I wouldn't know, either, except that I've been there. I've stayed in those sort of situations. I've spent many years of my life in them.
We stay… we stay because there is always the risk that the next place, the next situation, will be worse, will be even more awful, than the one you're in now. And after the first few times, you fear going anywhere, fear moving to the worse place.
Then you try to stop moving, to stay where you are, so you can try and make that place a little better, a little kinder… But it never works. You move again, get pushed on, sent away. Or it gets so bad that you can't stand it, and run, and get moved anyway.
Life isn't fair like that. You have to try, you try so hard, but in the end, nothing really matters. It's all the same. Until you escape, and then you're free. But your life has been so screwed up that you're screwed up too, and you've spent so much of your life moving on that you can't work properly, knowing that you will only move again, and you have ideas so completely alien that you are rejected, and despised.
Or maybe that's just me.
I'm exhausted. Not by what I've done in the last few days, or weeks, or months, or even years, but by life itself. I'm tired, because of what life has done to me. It has given me so many things, but they're almost all bad, almost all cause me pain.
It took my parents. It took my whole world away, in one fell swoop, without even any warning. Then it took my first set of foster parents away from me. I loved them nearly as much as I loved my parents.
Then it took me. It set me rattling from one set of new 'parents' to the next, each worse that the last.
Now… I've found a new family, of a sort. But it took half my lifetime. Half a lifetime of being rejected, laughed at… but it's changed. Well, some of it has.
Still life exhausts me. It's more vibrant now than it ever was, and I feel more and more fatigued. I don't know what's happening to me. Well, I do, but it makes no sense. Why punish me all my life, then give me… nearly the exact life I want, and have wanted since I can remember?
Perhaps it is waiting, still going to punish me for some unknown act, taking away my happiness only to plunge me into even greater depths of despair.
Maybe I'm being paranoid. Or maybe not. My life has been one misery after another. It has only got better recently. Why should the last bit of my life be better than the rest? It'll get worse soon enough. Maybe I should just enjoy it while it's still there.
I work hard – I try my best. I do what I can. I try to save lives. Sometimes I do. More often, I can't save them, and they die. Like my parents did. I try, but nothing I can do can save them.
People I work with sometimes look at me, wishing they could be like me. Or at least, that's what a select group of people tell me. But I don't know why people would want to be in my shoes. Not… not with my life, with my memories. No. I wouldn't want to bestow that curse on anyone, not my best friend, nor my worst enemy.
I know a man… a man that is courageous and brave, has some idea of how I feel, of what I've lost. He's lost a son, and he's done some terrible things. He regrets them, but can't take them back. So he lives with them.
He's stronger that me, braver than me, and has accomplished so much more. I love it when he says that I've done something right, when he says I've done well. But… those occasions are rare, much more rare than those times when he says I've screwed up, when he says that I'm wrong.
I hate those times. I feel my face redden, and I duck my head, trying to hide my shame. I know a woman, a woman as brave as that man, and with a life almost as varied. She'll do anything to save someone she loves, will sacrifice herself for someone else, no matter what the cost to her.
Those two people are two thirds of the small group of people who tell me that other people think I'm lucky. The third… a warrior, braver than me by far – he faces down armies, where I would hide and cower.
They are my life now, my family. I hold them close to me, hoping that it will last. But it won't. It can't. It never has, it never does.
It never will.
I feel old. I don't look old, but I feel it. My mind… there is so much information, so many memories, contained in it, it is fuller than I ever thought a mind could be. It hurts, sometimes, the strength of those memories, the… the ferocity of them.
I try to forget. I try… I try to bury my mind in my work, in trivial tasks, but I can only forget for so long, then all those things flood back in, a deluge of pain, of terror.
Things… the tiniest things… a smell, a small object, a mere symbol… anything can bring those memories back, even a word said at a certain time, perhaps a song on the radio, an advert on the television… it's too hard to avoid them.
Even when I'm not on Earth… yes, it's hard to believe, I know, but humour me… things jump out at me, distract me from what I'm doing, stopping me from saving lives, where I know I could have. That brings back more memories, memories of my parents… if I could have saved them, just tried that bit harder to get them out from the cornerstone… my life could have been so different…
Coming back from another planet, seeing people lined up in front of me as I return home… it's wonderful. It makes me feel wanted, needed… part of a family larger than the three I count as my closest kin. This… this is the first time in my life I've ever felt like this. I love it.