Obedience

TRIGGER warning. Programming, talk of abuse.

This is out of context unless the blog has been read in a chronological order.

5 years old

Bianca:

I see the breakfast laid out before us, I feel the chair I’m seated on. I’m leaning against a wooden table. 

I can still see how the sunlight streamed in through the windows. I can still feel the presence of Eric and his family, such as they were.

And I wonder.

Did I feel it then, that morning? A distortion and misalignment. Destiny skidding, veering off the road, horror. Or is the premonition something I’ve pasted on this memory later? Because I know what will happen.   

”Today is the day Eric will learn to obey”, his mother declares. She’s seated across from me, having only coffee.

”Correction: today is the day Eric learns to obey. If we say ’will’, it sounds as if it’s something that will happen – maybe. It’s too uncertain. We create something by speaking as if it’s happening now.” Eric’s father is cheerfully launching into a lecture when the subject of conversation interrupts him:

”What do you mean, ’obey’?”

”You’ll see”, Eric’s mother smiles.

”I think I’m quite obedient”, Eric retorts. ”I don’t understand what you mean”. 

The parents snicker and start talking about something else. I feel ill at ease. The word ”obey” – I hate it with a passion! ’Obey’ terrifies me. I do not remember why.

Breakfast is barely off the table when Eric’s mother stares into her children’s eyes:

It is Night. It is Night. It is Night. It is Night”. One repetition for each child.

”I feel sleepy”, Camilla states. ”Let’s go lie down”. She takes Lucio and Victoria by their hands and walk to the nursery. 

”But it’s day!” I exclaim. ”It’s day, it’s morning!” I run to the windows, gesturing out. Eric’s mother looks at me and states with a firm voice:

It is Night”. Then she shuts the blinds and draws the curtains to a close. I jostle Eric’s arm:

”It is day! I know it is!”

Eric looses balance but catches himself against the wall. He leans on it for a couple of seconds, stretches and steps in front of me like a shield. I don’t have words for it, but I sense a change in him. This is the Eric who likes to play fun games. Games like runaway. Before we can start playing the doorbell sounds – Uncle and Philip have arrived.

”Why did you bring him?” Eric’s father glares at Philip.

”He’s sworn to obey”, Uncle proudly affirms. ”He’s proven he’ll do so this time. Now, stay close to me and don’t speak with the other children.” Philip stands still, looking like he’s about to burst.

”Let’s play!” I encourage. In response, Philip regards the floor. I won’t give up. ”I want to play, I want to go outside! I want to go on the swings! It’s daytime!”

Eric’s mother squats before me and locks eyes with me.

It is Night”, she enunciates calmly. ”Time to go sleep.”

 ”It’s not night it’s day and I want to play! NOW!” I work my way up to agitation and run off in search of my sneakers. 

”I’m going outside – where are my shoes? SHOOOES?! I WANT MY SHOES!! IT’S DAAAY!!”

”We don’t have time for this”, Uncle sighs. Eric’s mother grab my arm.

Listen”, she says. ”It is Night. You need to go sleep.

”You sleep!” I blurt. ”You look tired.” In fact, all the adults have a worn expression by now.

”I can make her sleep”, Philip suggests innocently. ”She listens to me”.

”Fine”, Uncle says. ”But no tricks”.

”No tricks”, Philip repeats placidly. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do, so I follow him. 

The nursery is dark and quiet when Eric, Philip and I enter. Camilla, Victoria and Lucio all seem to be asleep. Philip quickly shuts the door behind us.

”I have something important to say”, he whispers to Eric.

”Bianca needs to switch first”, Eric answers. ”I don’t want them to scare her.”

”But it’s important!” Philip insists.

”I’ll listen as soon as she’s switched”, Eric assures him. Lucio wakes up.

”What time is it?”

”Night”, Eric and Philip respond and Lucio hangs his head.

”It’s Night”, he tells Camilla who is sitting up in her bed. She falls back down and puts a pillow over her head.

”I don’t want to live”, she whispers.

Why are everyone so somber? I start to dance about the room and sing: 

”I’m never sleeping, never ever ever!” Eric laughs.

”Come here and I’ll sing a song for you”, he cajoles. I climb up and sit in his lap.

”What song?”

”This song. Guinevere, Guinevere…”

”You can’t use the song you know it’s forbidden”, Camilla objects from underneath the pillow. ”She has to learn switching without it”. 

”We have to be fast today”, Eric tells his sister quietly. ”Philip has something important to say”. Eric goes back to chanting:

”Guinevere, Guinevere…Guinevere, Guinevere…” His voice is soft and he’s rocking me gently. I’m feeling sleepy now and lean against his chest. I could close my eyes for a little while, before going on the swings. Only a little. I feel so safe with Eric, I want to stay.

Guinevere:

I wish it’s Eric holding me. I open my eyes.

Eric!” I hug him.

”You’re finally here”, he smiles. ”Took some time.”

Victoria sits up in her bed and she doesn’t even have to ask.

”It’s Night”, they tell her. She lies back down.

”We’re all here now”. Lucio gets up and turns on the light.

”Wait! I have something to say and I have to say it now!” Philip whispers fervently.

”What is it?” Eric asks.

”Harry – Grandfather – is going to have you killed. He wants you dead, for real this time.”

Erik laughs.

”He’s wanted that for a long time. That’s nothing new. He hates me!”

Philip regards Eric gravelly. 

”You don’t know what I had to do to come here today”, he imparts. Eric looks worried.

”What?” He asks.

”I opened the mouth”, Philip murmurs.

”No!” Eric exclaims. ”You shouldn’t do that, ever! Not for me”. He leans his face into his hands.

”It’s your life, Eric”, Philip reasons. ”Can’t you see.. that if they kill you  – and I don’t try to stop it  – then I don’t want to live.” Then he gathers breath, continuing:

”Harry came to our house and talked a lot with Dad. Pure luck I was hiding in the living room! They’re gonna force you to obey. Obey or die. Harry says you’ll make an example if you die. Dad doesn’t want you dead but he says he’ll take you close.”

”I’m not leaving Guinevere”, Eric says. ”You know he hates her too.”

”Or loves her”. Philip frowns confusedly.

”Loves her to death, more like it”, Eric grumbles. 

”Dad nailed the window shut”. Lucio points at the bedroom window. ”How will you get out?”

”You’re coming with us”, Eric asserts but Lucio shakes his head.

”I don’t want to get punished later”, he says.

I’m gonna fight unto death!” Philip announces, fist thrown in the air. ”Who’s with me?” 

The room is silent.

”I am”. This statement makes Eric sigh in exasperation, but I don’t take my words back. When Night comes, I prefer to be hit until I don’t see, don’t hear, can’t feel.

”No.” Eric fixes me with his gaze. ”We’ll fight, but Bianca stays out. She’s too little – they could kill her if they kick her and they always try to.” 

Camilla, Victoria and Lucio doesn’t want to fight. They’ve fought before, but have come to the conclusion that it is useless. But they do agree to help us escape and make sure I stay out of any melee. I protest the last part, but Eric looks at me firmly:

”It is out of the question”.

I can feel my heart beating rapidly as we gather in front of the bedroom door. Each of us have at least three pair of socks on. The adults have hid our shoes again and we can’t waste time looking for footwear. We’ll storm out on one, two… –  the door slams open inwardly!

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