TRIGGER warning – Forced nudity, child sexual abuse, physical violence.
This is out of context unless the blog has been read in a chronological order.
Tall grass is swaying in front of a big wooden barn. Behind the barn I see fields upon fields until the horizon. On the other side of the barn is a forest pierced with glades like a Swiss cheese. There are cars parked all around me, relatives and their children stepping out of them. In the distance Mother and Auntie emerge from a clearing. I bolt to them:
Mother hugs me. She looks happy to see me but also confused and distressed.
”What is this?” She asks of Auntie. ”Why are we in the countryside, you said we were going shopping? And then we go for a forest walk instead? Why is my daughter here?”
”Surprise!” Auntie attempts a smile, but it comes across as a smirk. ”We’re gonna go swimming! There’s a pool behind the barn.”
”Everyone’s here!” Mother remarks as Auntie ushers us into the barn to change our clothes. ”Is this some sort of celebration?”
”No, it’s only an excursion”, Auntie answers. Inside the building is empty space – there’s nothing but concrete floor and a couple of wooden benches along a wall.
”Why didn’t you tell me we were going to a pool, I haven’t brought any swimsuits!” Mother asks in a troubled voice.
”But I did”, her sister ensures.
”Why didn’t you bring your children? I’m sure they’d like to go swimming as well!”
”They’re all ill, unfortunately”, Auntie sighs. ”They had to stay in bed.” Mother doesn’t have time to begin lamenting the children’s illness, before the very same children enter through the barn door. Their father has brought them here and Auntie casts him a livid look.
”Harry said they had to come”, Auntie’s husband shrugs.
”But they’re ill!” Auntie objects.
”No I’m n…” The eldest daughter begins, but she quiets as her father puts his hand on her shoulder.
Auntie sighs and says we should all eat vitamins so we stay healthy. Her daughters swallow the small white pills she gives them. I pretend to swallow mine, but run outdoors and spit it out behind some bushes. Auntie catches up to me and I tell her I was only looking for Philip. She shakes her head and shepherds me into the barn again.
Now I’m holding Mother’s hand, trying to pull her away from the others. I need to make her understand we should find Eric and get out of here. But Mother won’t stop cross examining Auntie’s husband on why he’d bring sick children to a swimming pool. The barn is slowly filling with people. Auntie is searching her voluminous handbag for bathing suits, but can’t seem to find them. Grandfather Harry is the last to enter, after Eric’s parents who carry their son. They lay Eric down in the middle of the floor. Harry positions himself beside Eric, in the natural spotlight of sunshine streaming in through a high window.
”It is Night!” He exclaims. ”It is Night! It is Night! It is Night!”
”Oh no, he’s been hitting the bottle again”, Mother whispers to Auntie.
”It is Night! It is Night!” Harry goes on.
”This is very improper”, Mother comments. ”He shouldn’t be drunk in front of children!”
”Now you know what time it is!” Harry bellows. ”Has everyone switched?”
”If they haven’t, it’s their own problem!” Eric’s father shouts back.
”Very well”, Harry smiles. ”All children, naked now!” Some of the children start undressing, but not all. Harry raises his voice:
”I want to see all children naked! NOW!” I’m frozen, I can’t move. But Mother reacts, shouting:
”Stop screaming that! You sound like a pedophile!”
”All children undress!” Harry starts walking around, as if looking to see his orders followed.
”Stop shouting that! Stop or I’ll take you to a mental hospital!” Mother starts to cry. ”I can’t believe my father is a pedophile! Someone stop him!” She starts walking towards the centre of the room and I hurry after.
”Mom, mom, we need to get out! Now!” But Mother isn’t paying me any attention. Instead she beseeches the other adults in the room:
”Why don’t you do anything? Why doesn’t anybody try to stop him?”
”I said all children naked!” Harry blasts. Turning towards my mother he adds:
”You’re a child too, you have no standing here! So undress!”
I sense a shift in my mother. She stumbles a little but gains her feet. When she screams I jump straight up and to the side, I’m so startled. Mother has become Angry Man, whose voice is truly terrifying:
”I’LL KILL YOU! I’LL KILL YOU NOW!!”
Seconds later she’s tackled Harry to the ground. She flew through the air like a tiger pouncing on its prey, he had no chance. Uncle and Auntie try to pull Mother off of Harry, but her fingers are locked in a death grip around his throat. Harry is wheezing for air, his face reddening. If there’d been only the two of them, this might have been the end of him. But he has his minions are and one of them stabs Mother in the leg with a syringe. She falls asleep.
Mother is carried to the side of the room by Auntie and Eric’s mother.
”Why is she even here?” Eric’s mother queries.
”Father said everyone of the blood had to be, no exceptions.”
”Mmm and why were your kids staying home then?”
”They were very ill.”
A man stops in front of my mother and shakes his head.
”She’s a lunatic”, he says. ”A real nutcase”.
”My mom is the best mom in the world!” I sob. ”Why do you do this to her?” But the man only laughs and walks away.
”I wish she was my mother!” Philip is awake! It’s good to see a friendly face. But Philip is looking very worried. ”Bianca, we have to tell everyone. If we warn them, maybe they’ll stop it. Maybe they’ll stop Harry from killing Eric.”
I run to the middle of the room and scream:
”Listen! I must say something! Listen, listen!” Nobody pays me any attention.
”I know what to do”, Philip asserts. ”We go to every person. And whisper we’ll tell them a secret. Everyone wants to hear a secret. And then we ask them to fight!” He thinks for a moment. ”First we tell the children, then the adults. Or they might stop us.”
”Ok”, I say. Philip is so clever. He runs off but returns immediately:
”I forgot”, he says. ”Don’t tell Marcus. He’ll go directly to Harry!”
”I won’t” I assure him. Marcus is one of the older boys, always running Harry’s errands in the hope of becoming his successor. I’m not going near him.
I seek out Samantha first. She’s Aunties eldest daughter, six years my senior. Lucio claims she’s got a crush on Eric. Samantha denies this, but I overheard her asking Eric to marry her. Unfortunately for Sammy, Eric replied he’ll never marry anyone. Samantha hasn’t given up though; she keeps following Eric around, vying for his attention. Right now she’s prancing around, anxiously questioning those around which hairstyle looks the cutest on her – one ponytail, or two? I tug on her arm and try to haul her away. She won’t go with me until I whisper ’I’ve got a secret’.
”What is it?” She sighs. Her mother has promised to lend her some lipstick and I’m interrupting. ”Sammy Sammy Harry will kill Eric!” I whisper.
”Why have you still got your clothes on?” she surveys me. ”You should let someone fix your hair!”
”Sammy we need to protect Eric!” Samantha shakes her head with the air of someone older and wiser.
”All the other kids are naked, you and Philip don’t know how to listen!”
”We need to fight or they will kill Eric!”
”No it’s true Harry said so himself!”
”Daddy says you’re a liar!”
”But it’s true I swear! We have to fight to save Eric!”
Samantha sighs in exasperation.
”Girls don’t fight, Bianca. Boys fight for us. It is Eric who fights to protect us, not the other way around”. I think of Eric, lying defenseless on the floor and I can’t help it, I start weeping.
”Eric needs us! I’m gonna fight!” Suddenly I’m angry. ”You’re big, you’re bigger than me, you should fight! Why are you not brave! Coward!” Samantha’s cheeks redden.
”I’m more brave than you!” She scolds. ”But you keep forgetting you’re a girl and girls don’t fight! They just don’t!”
”Are you gonna let Eric die then?”
”If they hurt Eric, Daddy will stop them.” She waves her father over. ”Daddy, Bianca claims Harry will kill Eric today. But you will fight to save Eric – you said you’ll always fight for me!”
”I said I’d fight for you, not for Eric”. Samantha’s father appears uncomfortable. ”I can not make any promises regarding Eric. They will force him to obey today, Samantha. It could get ugly. You must remember Eric has the power to stop all of this, if he only obeys”. Samantha considers this for a moment.
”Don’t worry”, she reassures me. ”I didn’t know Eric could stop it! If he can stop everything, we don’t have to worry.” I don’t feel the slightest bit consoled. Samantha doesn’t know Eric like I do. No matter how much she thinks she loves him, she doesn’t understand him. At all.