A Boy and A Girl


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1. A Boy and a Girl

 

The story begins with a boy and a girl. That is also how it ends.
   The boy is happy. He smiles more than he cries, and he walks the streets confidently, never giving in to the urge of calling out to his mother. His blonde hair has a special shine to it, and after much practice, his eyes brighten beautifully when he laughs. It has taken long time and much vigil, but the boy’s life has become one of almost unbroken joy and excitement.
   The girl is also happy. She is almost always at the boy’s side, following him, talking to him, supporting him. The girl loves the boy, and the boy loves the girl’s smile, bouncing step and blue eyes that are so alike his. Together, they help their parents and handle their responsibilities smiling. Together, they laugh through their sunny days.
   But sometimes, like this day, the girl’s support becomes a nuisance and a distraction. When the boy is tired and exhausted, or has to wear his tuxedo in his responsibilities with other people, it happens that he cannot stand the girl’s ever-present footsteps on the ground. Her questions become ceaseless interrogation, and the feathery dance becomes an ugly imitation of his proud walk. Sometimes, when the boy has played with the girl for a long time, his endurance fails him. He craves the girl’s disappearance, and all he wishes for is for her to go away.
   The girl loves the boy, so she understands. When he sits with his head clenched in his hands, his feet sore and his head aching to the rhythm of yesterdays’ music, she leaves him alone. Often, she only speaks to the boy of their alike eyes two or three times, and she only tries to drag him into her own joy for half a clock-round, before she walks away and lets him fight his throbbing despair. Then, the next morning when the boy wakes from his troubled sleep, he smiles easily through his newly washed hood of optimism, and walks with the waiting girl to their newest responsibilities.
   But there are days when the girl does not understand, too. Then, even though the boy’s tears are easily visible, and even though the girl knows that his heart has shriveled and shrunk into a black, painful knot, she will not let him cry alone. At these times, her tales of innocence and happiness do not relent, and she never allows him to forget that they have the same joyful eyes. She caresses and strokes his sore skin until it breaks and bleeds and she keeps laughing her last laugh, reminding the boy of the cheerfulness they never shared. When she assures him that they always will be together, the boy shatters into a thousand, needlelike pieces.
   When shouts, tears and hollow sobs are not enough, and when the well-kept smile is broken, the boy remembers that there is always a last way to escape. Even though he knows from his parents’ echoing words that it is wrong, and that he can never throw away his responsibility, he gives in. The boy’s shattered smile and rotten confidence is trampled as he grabs his sister’s neck, puts her on the ground and tries to stop her voice. While he envelops her tiny throat with his hands, holding all the pain and grief in a tight lock, the girl with the same blue eyes as his bites and scratches him. Her small, smiling teeth dig deep holes in his chest and back, and her pretty, delicate nails rip blood from the boy’s eyes and ears. When he pushes harder, and the girl’s body shakes and stiffens in her familiar manner, the words begin. She sings songs of dead joy and agonizing demands, and she screams of all-consuming helplessness. When the girl finally disappears, the boy’s soul is always a little, blonde-haired head shorter.
   After this, the boy often drowns himself in music, dancing and fading sorrow.

Today, it rains. The sky is heavy, bursting with gray, dark clouds, and small drops of icy truth consume the howling air. The buildings crouching by the wet, hard street seem to throb with anger and hate. Slithering whispers of guilt and silent sorrow emanate from the flooded sewer-drains, and the ground itself seems to be shuddering under her light footsteps.
   Today, the girl does not leave the boy.
   She speaks. She laughs. She cries. She reaches into his cowering heart, cuts it, scratches it and pierces it. She never lets go of his arms, throat or memories, and she never allows him to end the slow walk or turn away. The boy is too tired to resist anymore. The shouts and smiles did not help, and the girl never walked away or stopped questioning or singing. In only a few days the boy has seen the blue eyes so alike his die out and disappear already many times. But it had not been enough. No matter how hard he tried, he had not prevented all the bright smiles of the people in tuxedoes in turning into grotesque illusions. Accusingly and eerily laughing, the bizarre charades had opened up and revealed that everyone had to know. When the boy had tried to forget, the throbbing, rhythmic sounds and the pain of his abused feet had been devoured by the girl and transformed into her tiny, painful voice. Even when he had met the older girls, and they had smiled and laughed and nodded together, the sister had not vanished. During the many hours in the bedrooms, where the boy has always been alone, the girl was there, watching with sad, blue eyes and dried tears.
   Now, the boy is walking on the rain-drenched road, pressing his palms against his pained ears harder than he has ever done before, trying to hide inside his swirling agony. But the tighter he clenches his eyes shut, the more hers fill his darkened vision, and the harder he presses his hands against his head, the clearer her songs of unfulfilled happiness echoes in his mind. The boy’s soul is smaller than the girl now, crawling flawed and bleeding on the ground behind them, stopping and giving up more and more often. But when it does, the little girl takes hold of her brother’s hand and guides him through the darkened streets, forcing the soul to follow.
   That is how they arrive at their destination: the brother, crying, cold and tense, holding hands with the translucent, wispy sister and her reverberating, high-pitched sobs, slowly moving across the stretched, dark-gray bridge, wearily treading through the liquid ground. The closer they get to its end, the more they realize how far away they are, and the little girl’s cries strengthen, her frightful words echoing across the empty night-street. The boy tries to help her or make her stop crying. He tells the girl that the two will go home in only a few minutes. He mutters to her that they will be all right. He whispers that their cold, lone mother, lying still in their little apartment, will soon wake up. And all the while he is frantically searching, desperately looking for someone that can help him away from the cold, dark place. But the girl’s screams continue, tearing through the boy’s head and heart, making freezing tears appear on his swollen cheeks. The brutal sounds make him grab his ears and clench his eyes, and they allow only one thought in his head. In frightful panic, he grabs his responsibility, shakes her and shouts at her, but it does not help. The girl still screams and she does not stop before the boy has squeezed all air from her lungs and in fear watched her body tumble into the shadows under the bridge. This time, almost twenty years after he strangled his sister, the boy follows her into the darkness.

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