Off the hook

BIG TRIGGER warning  – child trafficking, learning to kill animals.

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

Bianca, 5 years old:

”Can’t you lie for our sake?” Eric is upset. ”You always lie, about everything! Why can’t you lie about this?” He’s keeping himself together while tears flow down his cheeks. We’re sitting on a sofa facing his parents.

”You don’t understand”, his mother answers. ”We’ll be interviewed.” 

”That’s what I meant, you could lie during the interview. If you want us to live, like you say you do…”

”Interview means they’ll talk to all of our Selves.” Eric’s father leans forward, elbows on knees. ”Some of our Selves are children. Little children.”

”The little ones aren’t good at lying and they’re easily fooled”, Eric’s mother explains.

”Why don’t you just hide your child Selves?” Eric questions.

”If we don’t let them interview every Self we have, they’ll suspect us of lying.” Eric’s father looks solemnly at Eric. ”And you know what that means for you. They have records of all our Selves.” I’m having a hard time following the conversation. 

”Interview means they’ll use goodies. And hurt us. I could stand against it, but not every Self I have.” His mother is equally grave. What are they talking about? ”You have to train her, Eric. Don’t you see it’s impossible to withstand direct questions? You can hide information, yes. When someone don’t know what secret to ask about, it can be hidden. But when they ask a direct question to a child Self, your face will show a reaction, some sort of emotion…”

”They can’t say I’m a martyr because of an emotion on somebody’s face!”

”Yes they can.” Eric’s father sighs.

”It’s not fair!” Eric exclaims. Harry enters the living room and waves at us with his walking stick:

”It’s never been fair – it’s about money and finding someone to sell. You and Bianca will have to prove yourselves over and over in order to stay off the hook!”

Later on, Eric and I sit on his bed. He’s been leaning his head in his hands, crying silently. Now he raises his chin, considering me.

”Bianca, we can’t trust anyone. Everything we say or do will be reported. They don’t even try to lie for us. They don’t even try…” I don’t understand what the problem is. Eric is upset because his parents won’t lie and fool a Society he’s training me? I don’t get why he doesn’t want to train me. I would love being trained by him! I wonder what he’d teach me. Football? Or how to fight like a boy? He gave me a lesson in that before, it was so much fun!

”I’m gonna teach you a new game”, he declares. ”A super secret game. Can you keep a secret?”

”Yes!”

”Even to your mother? If you tell her I’ll be really angry with you, we won’t be friends anymore and I’ll never let you call me Daddy again…” I’m horrorstruck by the mere suggestion.

”I won’t tell anyone!”

”You promise?”

”I promise!”

”Okay. The secret game is this: When we hear someone opening the front door, we take our clothes off. When they come close to this room, we put our clothes on as fast as we can. And when they ask what we were doing, you say ’nothing’.”

”Can you say the rules again?” 

Guinevere:

During the rest of this year, Eric’s parents only take the other children to the park. Eric and I are left alone in his room so he might train me. In the morning we play some game, like hide-and-seek. Then we search the kitchen for something to eat. After that, we return to his room because by then his parents could come home, attempting to surprise us. Eric likes to read books and he lets me draw in his notebooks if I don’t talk too much.

Giselle:

If Guinevere chatters a lot, Eric calls on me. He gives me a rather sheepish look and says:

”Sorry but I really, really need to study”. I don’t mind because he lets me paint, or play spy in the window. The spy game is easy, but a little boring if nobody walks by. I gaze out the window and if someone comes close to the house entrance, I clap my hands. Then Eric looks who it is and if it’s the right person we take our clothes off and on as fast as we can. That part is fun because once he got tangled up in his jeans and fell over and we had a throwing smelly socks war!

Guinevere:

Sometimes Eric’s parents begs us to demonstrate what he’s been teaching me. 

”She’s still too shy”, he objects. If he’s stands silent, glancing at me, it’s the cue for my line:

”I don’t remember!” I announce.

”I can’t help she forgets everything”, Eric shrugs his shoulders.

”You better show us some results soon”, Eric’s mother chastises. ”Her father is growing impatient.”

”Why doesn’t he train her himself?” Eric wonders.

”He lives too far away”, she replies. ”He’s asked us to do the training, because we’re known for getting good results.” 

”And what do you get?” I feel like the air is suddenly loaded when Eric asks this. It takes some time before his mother answers.

”Thirty percent and Harry twenty. The fifty percent that would have been her mother’s had she not been a Normal.”

”Thirty percent when?”

”Every time someone borrows her.”

Borrowed – like a book from a library. I wondered so much what training was. I found out later: training is learning to sell sex. Learning to overcome all natural barriers like shyness or post traumatic fears from past abuse. Once children are trained, they’ll be trained even more and then intense commerce begins. Eric wanted to protect me from this.

Giselle:

Of course, I couldn’t completely escape being ’borrowed’. Sometimes I woke up in a car driven by a relative, body aching and feeling sleepy in an unnatural way. I suspect they sold me unconscious. I also have a memory of a couple sitting on a bed, saying they’d bought time with me so I could pray for the man’s cancer to disappear. There were rumors flying of a saint, they’d followed the trace and it lead to me. I clasped my hands and prayed for the man to be healthy again. I felt a lot of anxiety – what power had I over this man’s health? None. Would they be angry if he didn’t get well? Would they kill me? Everybody was always threatening to kill me. I started crying. The couple saw it as a sign of devotion.

My father, though living far away, had been very busy spreading rumours of my saintliness. Closer to home Grandfather Harry was equally occupied, spreading word of my unholiness. Since actions count more than words, Harry had a plan to save me from saint accusations:

”If you learn to kill with your hands, nobody will ever question you. And I mean nobody! Most people are sissies! They ask for knives”, he made a disgusted face, ”or other weapons. Bah! Youyou are the weapon!”

I loved animals, especially baby animals. I still do. Harry explained to all of my Selves I would most surely die if I didn’t properly contradict the stories my father was telling. 

”He says ’she’d never hurt a fly’. Ha! I will to teach you how to wring the neck of everything from fishes to rabbits!” First all my Selves refused. Then Harry asked if there was anything we wanted in life, anything which could motivate us to learn this so we might survive. Guinevere said ’we want to protect children’. For once, Grandfather didn’t chastise us for caring about others.

”Then that is what you shall think of when you take the life of an animal. The children! You need to survive if you are ever to protect anyone!”

Eric had learned this years ago. He told me to think of hunters and how humans have hunted for meat since we lived in caves. 

”Sure, we don’t need this meat to survive. But we do need to survive.” Diana also learned, together with me. Out of all the girls in our bloodline she was considered the most beautiful. In addition she had a shy and somewhat reserved personality. With all the talk of saints circulating, Auntie had been worried for Diana’s safety. 

We learned how to close the door to all emotions, take a deep breath and just do it. Silently, in my mind, I asked the animal for forgiveness. If I am to protect animals from humans who hurt them, I need to survive first. Bianca stood beside, watching me. She thought I was a monster stealing her body and this made me cry.

Bianca:

Until today, I have felt my hands to be evil, scary. I’ve always considered animals to be kinder than humans. I love that they don’t lie. But in the company of animals, I’ve felt unworthy and bad. Sometimes I had flashbacks of hands strangling the neck of the same species of animal I was looking at. Of course this affected me. I did my best not to show the panic surging up inside. If someone asked ’what’s with the expression on your face’, I answered: ’I’m only tired’.

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