Written by A. D. Payne


At the root of the tree of my mind sits a diadem of thorns. 

It supports my every thought as a solid foundation, to which every strand grows from and returns to. When I think of it, my heart floods with a strange happiness. On some days, I feel only contentment; gratitude that the diadem warmly pads the walls of my mind. No thoughts can harm me. No shout, or curse, or unassuming little word can stab through the layers, upsetting my bits of order.

On other days, the diadem gives me ideas of the most beautiful and dark worlds, of weird, stupid, and flawed people that go on adventures. It gives me stories. Thoughts to last for a million years.

Thoughts, hopefully, to bring empathy. Or at least the barest bit of understanding between different people with different narratives. Tales written with respect enough to see others as human, and not devils. Empathy, and with it, maybe, kindness.

The diadem of thorns is often misunderstood. After all, humans are so prone to corrupting what they dare touch. In history, it divides, it conquers, it shames and it murders. Slapped on banners to excuse the bloodshed, shoved into faces to force guilt onto those that just don’t fit. With it, they have built towers and castles, all surrounded by the highest walls, adorned with spikes to keep so many from climbing them. On the walls, they will bleed. At the gates, they are scorned instead. The walls are kept disgustingly pristine. 

In the name of the diadem, plenty of hurt has been caused, that is true. 

But the story of the diadem has always been of redemption to me. Christmas or Easter, it has only brought me joy. Purpose, understanding, solace and everything in between. So I will celebrate in my way, whether or not it is strange because I know, at its heart, it is lovely, and it is good.

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