Interlude 4: Forbidden love/Hidden lie
As John got over puberty and into the tough years of adolescence his love for Amalia changed and evolved as well. Even at the beginning, when he was still small he didn’t express his feelings out loud, through words, but barely through actions, wrong actions, always taking it a tad to far. He was just crazy about her attention and that made him act even crazier, especially when he was determined that she doesn’t want him the way he would want.
He was about eighteen when the war started but luckily his family and him were far away from all the disasters. But that meant that the world was far from them as well. The Debenhams continued their little ‘hostel business’ only now you could call it ‘shelter for the damned’.
John knew that something was going on between his brother and Amalia, only he never had actual proof other than some weird looks and giggles from each other every now and then. He didn’t care about the rest of the world, about their missing father that went in the war and never came back, about the people that were dying every day just to get to shelter, to a place like his home. The only thing that mattered to him was HIS world and HIS life. Nothing else! And the world would end when he would die… Well, I guess that’s true for all of us.
It was winter and the Debenham family was sheltering a poor family who ran away from the devastations in the city. It was a gloomy Sunday morning and Ivan was in Amalia’s room fooling around, talking and kissing, tickling each other and laughing, shushing when they were thinking someone could hear them. They seemed happy together and perfect for each other, that’s why they kept it a secret for a long time. They didn’t want it ruined by the outside factors.
John was outside with the new family’s kid, playing with a ball. The boy was years younger so for him seemed like an honor to play with an older kid. As for John, that was quickly becoming boring and useless. Until the boy kicked the ball excitedly hard and it went over John, landing just under Amalia’s room window. John went for the ball and out of curiosity and jealousy looked through the tinted window. What he saw then changed something in his brain. It was between the curtains but he distinctively saw them kissing, Ivan’s hands on Amalia’s breasts.
“What is taking you so long?” the little kid asked gleefully. John turned angry, ashamed and surprised like someone caught him doing something he shouldn’t.
“Shut the fuck up, you little fucking idiot!” John’s anger was taking over him.
“Hey, slow down, I meant no harm… I just wanted to play, but take your time, no problem.” The kid was backing up with his hands in the air.
“You think you’re something, huh? You think you come here with your shitty, dirty family and just… fit in? Just blend and hide? For how long? And why us? Why should we be the responsible ones?” John was walking towards him threating with each step. The boy turned red and started to stammer.
“N… nnnn… no! Wuh-wuh-what dddd… do… you mmm… mmmeee… mean?”
“Shut up! Just fucking shut up!” John shouted and picked up a small stone. He threw it at the kids face and it hit him right between the eyes. This made him loose his balance and he fell flat on his ass. He started to cry. All the time John was silent with an angry but curiously entertained look on his face. He went over the young boy, picked up a bigger rock and lifted on top of his head. He looked in the scared, innocent eyes of the boy and he saw in his mind the image of Ivan kissing Amalia, touching her that way, all the signs that he chose to ignore along the years. Now it all became clear: who he was, who he had to be from now on, who they were and what he had to do. Now he had to do this.
He dropped the rock on the kid’s head, smashing it with a slushing sound, like when you would hit a cabbage. He picked the rock from the smashed skull and dropped it again, this time making a softer, wetter sound. And again, and again, and again until he felt he was hitting the ground beneath. He tossed the rock aside and with a maniacal, satisfied smile, he said:
“That’s interesting…” then he realized that someone – Amalia or Ivan – could see him so he got up quickly and grabbed the boy’s headless body. As he picked him up – not with too much effort, as it was quite a year gap between them – pieces of his bloody pulp of a head dripped in the short, green grass. He briskly but quietly carried the body to the river where his brother taught him the secrets of fishing, where he had stolen the kittens and torture them, where he had thrown the small bunny, where he had so many nice summers secretly staring at Amalia’s half naked body as she came out of the water with that specific smile of hers. After he pondered a bit at the past and future – the consequences of his horrific deed being close to none with the war and all, no one would notice or blame him – he went into the water with the boy’s weightless body until he was waist deep and then he just let him float downstream. He watched that scene with a complete serenity until he disappeared from his sights. He washed his hands and went home, acting like nothing happened.
Later on nobody blamed John, nobody but the doubtful face of Amalia who later that day found the bloody rock in the garden. Deep down she somehow knew that it was John’s doing so, in order to protect him she took the rock to the woods and buried it. Years after she would tell Ivan about that and for John things would only get worse from that day.