I opened my mouth, almost said something.

Almost. The rest of my life might have turned out differently if I had.

But I didn't I just watched. Paralyzed.

I opened my mouth, the shout of "NO!" escaping my lips before I could stop myself. As Assef turned to face the mouth of the alley dread settled into the pit of my stomach. From this point there was not going back, my life would never be the same again. And I just stood there. Paralyzed.

The three boys lost all interest in Hassan, allowing him to shuffle quietly out of the alley and find refuge a few blocks away. But I was frozen to my spot, horrified that now was when I decided to stand against somebody.

Of all the people to stand up to I had to choose Assef, and on behalf of a Hazara no less. I was dead. There would be no winning Baba's favor, no reading him my stories. This alley was where my life would end.

They closed in around me, Kammal and Wali grabbed my arms and pinned them behind my back as they walked me further into the alley. I managed to suck in a breath, stealing myself just in time for Assef's fist to connect with my stomach. The force of it doubled me over gasping for air as the wind was knocked out of me, but Assef didn't pause in his assault kicking and punching at me until all that held me up were Kammal and Wali's hands yanking me up every so often for better ease of access.

After an eternity Assef stopped hitting me and ordered Kammal and Wali to drop me and head back to his place. He said he wanted to chat with the fag before he let me go. The two of them ran off quickly to avoid Assef's wrath not even asking what he was planning. Not that I could have defended myself whether I knew or not. I wasn't sure I would be able to pull myself off the ground when he was gone let alone try to fight him off.

As I lay there in the muddy snow I felt myself give up. I didn't budge as my pants were removed and couldn't force a protest to my lips as I heard the zipper of his pants go down. I couldn't make my body function as he forced into me and tore my entire world to pieces. I had reached the ultimate stage of pacifism, I was dead to a God I wasn't even sure I believed in because I couldn't stand up for myself.

I felt sick with my cowardice, more pained by that than by anything Assef had done. I laid there and hated myself more with each minute that passed after I was left alone in the alley. I cringed as I finally managed to pick myself up from the ground and took a moment to fix my clothes that had been left pooled at my feet, before I hobbled home the pain that radiated from my lower extremities slowed my journey considerably.

It was late when I made it home, from the front gate I could see Baba and Rahim Khan talking in the smoking room, seemingly waiting for me to return. As I let myself into the yard Hassan came running to me worry clear on his face from my state of being, the worry quickly turned to guilt though as he realized I was like this because I had stood up for him.

"Amir agha you are hurt…"Hassan said forgetting the blue kite clutched in his grip.

I stared at him blankly for a moment before reaching out and taking hold of the kite. It was the only way I had a chance of being fixed, if my father's pride in seeing me with the blue kite didn't fill the emptiness that was overcoming my body and mind, I wasn't sure anything ever would.

He let the kite slide from his grim easily and watched in silent guilt as I walked into the house to present Baba with the sacred kite. But when I held het kite out to Baba it wasn't pride that I saw in his eyes, but worry instead. For a moment the worry felt better than any pride ever could. Pride simply meant I was worthy of carrying on Baba's name but worry, worry meant that he actually cared about me, Amir, I was important!

I should have known better.

"Where is Hassan?" Baba asked his eyes searching out for him.

The worry wasn't for my well-being but for Hassan's, and the edge of fear in his eyes melted away the moment Ali and Hassan came in to prepare our dinner. I turned away from Baba in that moment and dropped the kite at his feet as the feeling of emptiness filled me all over again tenfold. I trudged up to my room and locked the door so I could lay in bed and stare blankly at the empty wall that seemed to be a perfect reflection of myself.

Hassan's voice rang through my head as he yelled, "For you a thousand times over." I wanted to resent the statement in that moment. It was pointless and untrue; nobody was willing to do such a thing a thousand times over. The only things people did a thousand times over were the easiest things in the world, but then again I knew I would relive tonight a thousand times over, just hoping that one day I would walk in and the worry on Baba's face would be not for Hassan but for me.