Interlude 1: As a kid
The first time he saw her he felt heartbroken. He fell so hard in love that it hurt him. But he was too small to realize what’s happening.
His brother- Ivan- and he were the only kids the Faller family had. They lived in a small city, ‘at the edge of the world’, like their father used to say. John was the smallest, the second born. Their mother took care of them while the father worked the field. They had one neighbor: the Debenhams. And the two families were quite fond of each other, helping one another, having family dinners, working the field together. So it was virtually impossible for little John not to fall for the spells of beautiful Amalia. But they were small… they knew nothing about love. All they wanted to do then was to play hide and seek all day around the houses and in the fields and go fishing.
John, being the second born, he received a bit more attention which made him more sensitive in a way… maybe a bad way. But that didn’t make Ivan, he’s brother, feel bad or leaving him craving for attention. The brothers were- at a young age- like cut from the same cloth. They did everything together. And when they went out, Amalia would join them. They were the ‘unbreakable trio’.
John was a scrawny kid; being born almost two months before term, his parents feared he wouldn’t make it. But he did, so he became the family’s pampered baby. Everyone was careful around him and his mom treated him like an angel. Maybe all of this led him to do what he would later do. Maybe we are all tailored to do something from when we are born because of all the things that surround and form us as kids.
His older brother was the second one in charge of taking care of him the most. When John was a baby, Ivan would sleep next to his crib many nights, especially the first ones when anything could’ve happen. When he grew older he was reading him bedtime stories and teaching him to fish and play football, how to defend himself. Ivan was doing with John all the things their dad had tried with Ivan but gave up when the ‘weak one’ was born. Maybe because he noticed that there were enough people taking care of the young one, enough people who ‘smother’ him. He wasn’t a bad man, just a serious, hard-working one.
They lived on a farm with a field of corn and rice and some animals. And that’s how they made a living. With what they worked and grew. And all the members of the family had their own job to do around. Their mother with the cooking and cleaning, their dad with the fields, animals and all the heavy stuff, the kids: everything in between and more.
“But why do we have to do more than them? It’s not fare!” John asked one day with tears filling up his lower lids.
“Because we are the children. And we have to learn.” Ivan answered while feeding the chickens grains from a bag.
“But… but… it’s not fair… we, we” he used his sleeve to wipe his snotty nose. ”we study, we help momma, we help dad and… when do we have time for us, then?” Ivan looked at him with some degree of innocent pride.
“You know it comes Sunday soon and we will have time to do whatever we want and in the evening we’ll go to the Debenhams’ and have a nice dinner. Think about that whenever you feel life is unfair. Always know that a bad thing will lead to something good.” Ivan was kneeling in front of his brother, wiping his tears and holding his hands.
“Tomorrow’s gonna rain!” their fathers’ voice came like a thunder from the door. He had his green rubber boots on, which meant that he was going to tend to the pigs.
“So you kids go on and enjoy this fine day while it lasts. Ivan, why don’t you take your brother fishing, show him some of my tricks? Go on now, boys, go be boys!” The kids stood up fast, - so fast John started to see little shiny, flying dots on the corner if his eyes- and went inside to get their fishing gear.
“Come!” Ivan shouted. “Today I’m gonna teach you the greatest trick of all: patience!”
Sunday came and that meant dinner at their neighbors, the Debenhams. The fathers knew each other since they were kids so it was like a family tradition. For both boys the best part of each Sunday was that they got up close and personal with the wonderful Amalia Debenham. But for Ivan, who was older, it meant much more than that. She was a girl, a beautiful girl. And he was feeling butterflies in his stomach each time he saw her. Soon enough John would have the same kind of feelings and they would both fall in love with her. But she would choose only one of them.