The little girl lived with her mother in a small apartment in the city.
An apartment full of all sorts of things. Mom liked old stuff.
Things that had lived for a while without her.
Things she could exchange with other things,
give them away or change their place in the apartment.
She did that all the time. With everything. Except her books.
The books were lined up, alphabetically,
on the bookcase in the living room.
This bookcase was so big that filled the whole wall
from floor to ceiling, and from one side to the other.
A wall made of books.
And the books were never to be given away, thrown away,
sold or even lent to anybody. It was forbidden.
The girl was not so interested in them yet.
Something that disappointed her mother very much,
but that time, was time for the girl to play.
She liked to jump on one leg. A very difficult thing to do,
and she liked to play with Lego. She was almost obsessed with Lego.
They had so many colors and you could have so much fun with them.
Also, they could make you forget everything else around you.
Life was good.
Sometimes they would sit in the car, and travel to visit friends.
Their friends, lived far away, so they didn’t meet them so often.
She liked it when they did that. Visiting friends and their children.
Mom’s older sister, who was quite strict but not as strict as most people thought,
also her boys and their friends. It was really special.
She was the only girl and always got to do as she wanted.
Everyone was kind to her and whether there were whispers in the dark,
things adults were whispering to each other when they thought all children were asleep,
it was fun there…
Other times they would sit in the car,
and they would drive around to other cities, and other places.
Mom said this was a game they were playing together.
They drove away from the bad people. Mom drove very fast.
What an adventure that was! Every time!
The bad people never got hold of them and the game quickly became a habit,
as the years went by. Always tremendously funny.
Life was good.
Except, when mom’s twin sister came to visit.
Totally unexpected and certainly uninvited.
There were times her mom had to go. She didn’t know where mom was going.
Nor for how long.
When mom’s twin sister was present, things were dark and dreary.
She was often mean to the girl. Not always directly mean but mean.
She hit her only once. But very hard.
The girl was lying on the floor and mom’s twin sister just kicked and kicked,
until the girl’s head, who knocked and knocked against the wall,
opened as a watermelon does,
when you cut it with a large sharp knife in the middle of summer
and the seeds fall out, black and small as ants.
Ants didn’t come out of her head,
just lots of blood and fortunately came mom who took her to the doctor.
Mom told the doctor that the girl hit herself while she was playing hide and seek,
and the girl didn’t care about it.
She just nodded to the doctor who looked at her in a strange way,
as he sewed the wound.
She was just glad mom was back.
The worst with the twin sister was not that. She was mean in many ways.
She could criticize violently;
she would tell that mom was gone because she couldn’t stand her own daughter;
she would throw things around the room, smashing glasses
and sleep for endless hours.
The girl was afraid of her.
She always cleaned after her because she didn’t want her mom
to come home to this mess. And she was hungry.
For days there wouldn’t be any food in the house.
At first, she didn’t know what to do.
Although eventually, she learned to be prepared.
She hid food when mom was home. Under the mattress or deep deep in drawers.
Dry food. She was not stupid.
Whether she was called stupid, several times by mom’s twin sister .
When mom was home, there was food on the table every day
and they played together.
They prepared weird funny things like soy meals, and homemade chips.
She was not fond of soy meals but very fond of homemade chips,
and she loved doing things with her mom.
Mom was so playful, she smiled like an angel, she was so pretty and sweet.
She said to her often, she loved her. She read for her every evening.
Not the kind of books other people read to their children.
Not Alice in Wonderland nor princess’s fairy tales.
She read about Shakespeare and Leonardo Da Vinci,
she read poetry by poets with long difficult names.
She didn’t get so much of it, but it was nice to hear mom’s voice reading …
One day, while mom’s twin sister was at home, came a man.
The girl was sent to her room. The man asked mom’s twin sister many questions.
The one after the other.
They talked quietly. It was impossible to understand exactly what was going on.
When the man left, mom’s twin sister went mad. Very mad.
She said the girl was a coward.
She hid in her room and didn’t come out to defend her.
No wonder her mother didn’t want her. She cried and screamed like crazy.
The girl dared to shout back. You’re not my mother!
You can’t say such things to me!
You are not allowed!
And then she saw the hand of mom’s twin sister, rising up high over her face.
She begun to cry too. She hadn’t forgotten the last time,
when her head had opened up like a watermelon.
Please, she said, don’t beat me. Please …
And then, mom’s twin sister, took her hand slowly down,
looked at her with disgust, and spat on her. You are worthless!
it was all she said, before she left the room.
The girl sat hidden between the walls. Right there in the corner.
Between the walls. There she sat. Alone.
Hoping no one would be told something like this, ever.
‘Cause it was more painful than an open head crowded with ants.
Mom died a morning in april.
The girl woke up late. It had happened before,
but this time she realized something was wrong. The apartment was so quiet.
She went into the living room where mom would often sleep in front of the telly.
It was still on.
Mom slept on the sofa. But she did not sleep. She was dead.
The girl simply knew. In a few days she would be twelve years old.
She knocked on the door of the neighbor lady, who was friends with mom; sometimes.
And there she stood, by the open door, without being able to say a word.
The lady had to ask. Is everything ok with your mother?
Yes. She is all right now. She ‘s dead.
Suddenly, the apartment was full of people.
The doctor came. The neighbors came. Aunt came. Her cousins came.
Everybody looked like they were one hundred years old. At least.
there was no one there. The apartment was quiet again. She was forgotten.
Her mother laid still on the couch. She looked peaceful. Absent.
The girl was to be twelve years old in a few days.
She knew now, mom’s twin sister would never come back. Just like mom.
After an eternity, she turned her gaze from the beautiful corpse
and set it on the bookcase at the other side of the room.
She went slowly closer to the books, her mom’s books,
and embraced them, with her small hands.
For the first time she felt, that feeling, of being at a place where she was safe.
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