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This is my second story in the English section of Lit (my first was Dalmatian).
It is a translation of a story I published earlier in the Dutch Taboo section.
I hope I have translated it well enough, and I hope you will forgive my errors.
*For the Dutch readers among you, check my other contributions ;^)
I would like to thank oldnakeddad for helping me with the translation. I hope I can ask you again for some help.
This story has a lot of emotions I like to think myself, it makes you sad, it makes you angry, it makes you pity the protagonist and even dislike him at some point.
It is a slow story, not a stroker as you people call it I believe. But in the end there will be fireworks.
Well off we go, have fun
Irritated, I looked at the woman, in front of me, in the check-out line…”Get on with it, you old bat,” I thought to myself as she rummaged through the outlets near the cashier, looking for things she probably didn’t need anyway. The conveyor belt was almost empty but she seemed to be slow on purpose. “Just put your bloody things on it, you fat sea-cow,” I almost shouted in anger but I kept silent and waited, impatiently, for my turn, almost dislocating my arm in the process…my basket was overfilled with stuff and it was weighing a lot.
Finally, she sluggishly and slowly started putting her groceries on the belt and every move she made looked like a slow motion picture show. When she was finally finished, I put a “next customer” sign after her groceries and started putting mine on the belt. I had only three hours before I had to start a shift, tonight, and during those few hours, I had to get back home, eat and get my bus.
Some people seem to have all the time in the world and she probably did as most customers in this store were on welfare. I hated this store but it was cheap.
I hurriedly stashed my groceries away in my tiny kitchen while a ready-to-go-meal was warming in the microwave, I like my food wholesome and healthy, you must know.
Sitting at my table, I sorted out my mail. There was a letter from a big Dutch banking agency in a luxurious envelope, curious, I wondered what they wanted from me so I opened it right away. It was an invitation for a job offer they had for me, my public profile on an online job hunting site had caught their interest. This was strange, I remembered making my profile about ten years ago but didn’t get any replies and after a while I stopped updating it and left it.
I had studied as a specialist in economics and was guaranteed a job after finishing it. I received special honors for having the highest grades ever and landed my first job the second I laid my hands on my diploma. After a short year, the dream was over and my world collapsed around me, I did not find a new job in my field and eventually settled for my current job. Meanwhile, I was forty-two years old and had a hopeless career as a warehouse assistant at the local Ikea.
Things needed to change.
At three o’clock, Thursday afternoon, wearing a rented suit and my hair neatly combed, I sat in a large luxurious office with high ceilings, large windows, lit with daylight and the large abstract artwork also functioned as a lamp. My eyes went over the dark brown ornaments of the shiny oak wood desk in front of me and, opposite of me, the three men and one woman sitting behind it.
Strangely, the questions they asked were not about my knowledge or skills but, instead, only a few short questions about my ambitions and personality. I knew I did not have a chance, I have been out of this line of work for over eighteen years and my knowledge was stale and useless. During the first years, I had hoped, and studied, to keep my skills and knowledge up to date but I lost all hope after a while and made peace with my situation.
I sighed as I was waiting for my bus…what had I expected? I knew, for sure, I would not hear from them again. I probably did not answer their questions correctly, I mean, normally you get an assessment and a series of investigations about your skills and, even when you do pass them, it does not ensure you’re one of the final candidates. It was a small but tough world.
I saw my bus coming in the rain, stood and walked to the pick-up point. Sitting in the bus, I wiped a part of the condensed window with my sleeve and followed the little droplets of rain on their path down, fusing and making their capricious paths.
Capricious, like the course of life, invisible obstacles only made visible by the sudden change of direction. I thought about my life and the invisible obstacle that had destroyed my life.
I was nine years old, my mother was sitting next to my dad at the kitchen table and both were weeping as they asked me to sit with them. Anxious, I looked at them…what did I do? I could not remember anything I could have done to cause this much grief, I felt it was something really bad. Nervously, bizimkent escort I drank my milk and looked alternately between mom and dad. After a while, mother looked at me, her face was pale white, sighed deeply and took my hand.
“Sven, dear, mommy has something to tell you.”
She started crying again and fell into my crying father’s arms. Though I did not know why they were crying, I also started to cry. After a while, she regained herself and, while holding tight to my father, looked at me and gave me a pale smile while tears were flowing over her cheeks.
“Sven, sweetheart, mommy is very ill and I won’t get better. Oh, my love, you should know mommy will always love you, wherever she is.”
I threw myself into mom’s arms and, together, we cried. I had millions of questions but did not ask one, the only thing I had was deep grief.
I slept in her arms that night.
Three months later, I sat in the front row, next to my grandma, wearing my best outfit. I looked at my dad, making a speech about my mom’s life, as he was crying. I did not hear a word, my eyes were on my sweet mother’s white coffin, behind him, and the big bouquet of white roses, with one single red rose in the middle of it, covering most of the coffin.
My grandma held me tight to her body while the music played the songs I had picked with mom. While Lou Reed sang about a perfect day, I saw mom’s coffin disappear…she was gone, forever.
The weeks after the cremation were hell. My father went into a downward spiral and I was so alone with my grief, I knew I would never recover…I was damaged for good.
Although it was summer and the weather was perfect, I sat in my room, leafing through old photo albums, searching for pictures of mom. I often looked at her last good picture, the picture I took during our holiday last year as she had happily looked into the camera, oblivious to her destiny. I carefully stroked my finger over the picture, caressing her face.
I looked at it for hours every night, eventually falling asleep, crying.
I was eleven and had been noticing something was happening during the last six months…my father had become better, happier, my old dad was coming back and it made me happy to see he was recovering. I, on the other hand, missed mom every day…it hurt, as if my soul was cut in half.
My father introduced me to his new girlfriend.
“Sven, I would like to introduce you to Marguerite.”
I nodded to Marguerite and went to my room. I was laying on my bed, looking at the picture of mom, and crying, when dad came into my room and sat next to me, without saying anything, and laid his hand on my cheek and wiped my tears away.
Marguerite was patient and sweet, she did not push herself onto me and did not have any intention to replace mom. The picture of mom and me, in the livingroom, stayed where it was and, after months of stubbornness, I found myself looking forward to Marguerite’s visits more often and when she came to live with us, I was secretly happy despite the poignant pain of mom was really gone, forever.
“Do you declare to take Marguerite van Buuren to be your lawful wife and promise to faithfully fulfill all the duties which are connected by the marriage law? What is your answer?”
I was standing next to my father, happy for him when I heard him answer “yes”. Marguerite was pregnant, we were a family and I was a part of it in each facet and she made me feel part of her.
Despite mom not being with me, my life felt somewhat more complete. Marguerite and I made a beautiful frame for the picture of mom and, together, we placed it on the wall beside my bed. She lovingly kissed away my tears and caressed my cheeks. Marguerite was sweet, she understood my grief, she didn’t want to be a replacement, she only wanted to give me her love, the love I needed being a little boy with so much pain.
I was twelve and sitting in the hospital, a month after the wedding, waiting for my dad and leafing through a holiday edition of a Donald Duck comic book. Dad was with Marguerite who was in labor, giving birth to my little sister…I was going to be a big brother!
I looked into Rose’s cradle and tenderly caressed her little cheek as she looked at me with her big blue eyes, smiled and I smiled back as she grasped my finger with her tiny hand. I turned, looked at Marguerite and smiled as she put her hand on my back and silently caressed me.
“She is sweet,” I whispered.
“So are you,” Marguerite nodded, smiling. She kissed my cheek and stroked my hair tenderly.
I was happy, my father was happy…we both missed mom terribly… but we loved our new life, apparently there was room for both. She was not forgotten but we had moved on. My father told me she wanted me to and she also told me, before she died. I did it and I felt good. My mom was my shelter, my safe place, I cherished my memories of her but, how odd bostancı escort that may seem, I was also happy with my new memories, without her in them.
“Sven, look at me,” words I heard a million times a day, and a million times I looked.
I was in my final year of my high school and Rose was around six years old. Everything I did was interesting and while I was studying, Rose was next to me, making a drawing. She was very serious about them and, with the tip of her tongue sticking out, she was drawing something for me. Wherever I went, there was Rose and it was alright with me…it made me very happy to have her around me.
I know it seems strange for an eighteen year old boy but I didn’t have much of a social life and, to be honest, the life I had at home with my dad, Rose and Marguerite was perfect. I was a part of something, integrated in something beautiful.
“What do you want?” I asked.
I held her little hand in mine and looked at her big blue eyes, Rose was eight. We were standing in front of the display of candy, Rose picked a box of chocolates and I picked a box of liquorice. We would eat it together, tonight, while I read her a story about the “Famous Five”.
Rose practically lived in my room and every moment I could, I read to her about the adventures of Georgia and her dog Timmy, her cousins Julian and Dick and her little niece Anne on Kirrin Island.
I have to admit, I also enjoyed the stories. When you read them again as a grown-up, they offer a whole new perspective. Every time, I was anxious to find out what would happen next…Enid Blyton was a gifted writer. Rose was thrilled by the stories and she melted herself against me and we sat all evening. We didn’t need television, we only needed each other and the stories written by Enid.
Every now and then, Marguerite brought us something to drink while she smiled tenderly at us.
One night, Rose fell asleep against me and I carefully carried her to her bed. Marguerite sat next to me and, while we looked at Rose, she stroked my back.
“You are the best brother ever Sven, thank you for being so good for her,” she whispered as she kissed my cheek.
For me, it was natural to love Rose, I felt part of something beautiful, cosmic. I knew my mother would be proud of me, she taught me love is something good, the strongest force in the universe and she had been right.
“I don’t mind at all, she is everything to me,” I whispered while I pulled a little strand of hair out of Rose’s little face. Marguerite stroked my hair and looked at me, smiling.
“You are a very sweet boy, I’m sure your mother would be proud of you.” I took her hand and looked at her.
“I am sure my mother would be happy to know how sweet you are to me and dad. You give us everything, you and Rose are the reason we are happy again.”
Silently, she cried while she embraced me. Marguerite was everything to me, almost like Rose was. I’d give my life for them in a heartbeat.
During the first years of my study, I picked up Rose after school and when she got older she depended more and more on me. I was there for her, helped her with her homework and gave her advice when she asked for it, I was her wise, big brother and we were friends forever.
Looking back, those were the best years of my life…
I was loved.
“Do you mind if I sit here with you?” asked a clear voice while I was reading about some calculations.
Startled, I looked up from my book. I was in the college library and in deep thought about the stuff I was reading. She had the face of an angel, blonde hair, green eyes and the most adoring freckles were scattered around her high cheekbones and tiny nose…without her sparkling smile, the picture would have still been perfect! I went back to my books saying it was a public place as I was blushing.
“My name is Sophie,” she said while sitting opposite of me and looking at me in anticipation.
I looked up from my books and stammered my name. I wondered why she sat at my table, there were empty seats all over but I didn’t mind at all. When I stood, around six o’clock, and stacked my books, she looked at me thoroughly.
“Sven, would you like to have some coffee with me?” she asked.
“Sophie, meet Rose. Rose, meet Sophie.”
Sophie and I had been together for three months and I had already introduced her to Marguerite and my dad. Introducing her to Rose made me a bit nervous, I hoped she would like Sophie. Rose looked at me, her eyes were strict, angry. She did not say a thing, her lips were a thin, white line. Sophie spoke first and she smiled at Rose.
“I understand. You are afraid I will take Sven away from you but I won’t. I love your brother in a way you can’t and you love him in a way I can’t. I hope you’ll be my friend, our friend. I will never come between you two…never!”
She carefully caressed Rose’s hair while she smiled at her. büyükçekmece escort Rose looked back in anger, her eyes squinted, lips in a fine line but she didn’t say anything. She turned around and walked to her room and closed her door with a bang. I looked at Sophie and apologized.
“I don’t mind, she is twelve, things are hard at that age,” Sophie said softly
I nodded. We would take our time to get Rose accustomed to the new situation.
In the course of months, Rose normalized quite a bit, although there was a significant change in her behavior. She was more devoted to me than ever, often claiming me. Sophie and I talked about it often and decided to give her the feeling she was part of us.
I was twenty-four when I graduated, Cum Laude, with two ladies at my side. Sophie still had some months to go, we were in love and the future was bright.
During my PhD studies with a large banking agency, I was offered a job which I took directly. After I finished my study, I started at my first job, received tenure, after a month, and the offer of a mortgage with a low interest. That night, I took Sophie out for dinner and when we finished our meals, I took her hand and asked her if she would live with me.
We bought our first house within two months and Sophie’s graduation was celebrated in our bedroom. Our love was deep and passionate, I knew she was the one.
After I had left home, Rose stopped speaking to me. I tried, every day, but she did not respond to my phone calls and when I dropped by, she went to her room.
“Rose, I have tickets for the zoo, only the two of us, I would really like you to go with me.”
Rose looked at me, she was sitting on her bed and, for the first time in months, we spoke, at least, I spoke and she was listening. She looked at me, furious, but suddenly her face cleared and, for the first time in months, I saw her radiant smile again.
“I would love to go with you, Sven,” she said smiling.
I wanted to embrace her but I was afraid of damaging the delicate situation of our relationship at that point so I hesitated. It was Rose who put her arms out to me and cuddled me. For the first time in months I had my sweet little sister in my arms again.
“Oh, Sven, I have missed you so very much,” she cried while burying her face in my neck. I softly caressed her hair while fighting back my tears.
“I have missed you, too, Rose, and it is not necessary at all, you are always welcome with us…Sophie likes you very much”
Right after I said Sophie’s name, I felt Rose stiffen. I tried to let her go but Rose clamped herself around my neck, silently sobbing and I tried to comfort her but I had no words.
The next day I would pick her up and as I drove onto her street, I saw her waiting for me, a small girl with a backpack and a big smile, waving at me. She jumped next to me in my car and together we drove to the zoo. We had a great day and, around six in the afternoon, we drove back, satisfied. I took her out for dinner close to her house and afterwards I gave her a big kiss and went to my own house.
“Are you Sven van Zanten?”
I was standing in the door-way, looking at two very large police officers, unsure of myself, as I nodded.
“Would you mind coming with us?” they asked.
I was cuffed and taken to the station, from then everything was a blur.
I was accused of molesting a minor!
Rose had told my dad and Marguerite we had sex and dad had reported me. I received a message from Sophie the next day, saying she did not ever want to speak to me again…she had left me.
My father came, after I listened to her message, wanting to speak to me. He furiously looked at me and told me I was dead to him…what I did was unforgivable
I was innocent!
Innocent and in custody. Those two and a half weeks were pure hell and, at some point, I doubted myself. Had I done such a terrible thing? Could it be? I was treated as a criminal. Every day I was interrogated and they pushed me into a confession.
I had not done anything!
After three weeks, a psychiatrist, not the one who first spoke to Rose, thought there was a very high probability the story Rose told was not true. During the lawsuit, her story was proven wrong and I was a free, but destroyed, man.
I spoke to Sophie, once, to thank her for her trust and loyalty. I did not speak to my dad or Marguerite, I could not handle the treason. I could never forget the way they had distrusted me.
Rose did not exist in my world anymore, I could never forgive her for what she had done…Rose was dead to me.
I went home to an empty house…Sophie was gone. There was a small pile of mail on the doormat. Among them, a letter from my employer…my contract was terminated because of bad functioning in my first year. I shook my head and looked, in disbelief, at the letter.
During those months, I learned innocence is not innocence…I was contaminated. It was useless to apply for jobs, my name had been destroyed. Around the third month, I could no longer pay my mortgage, I had no income and I had nothing. Eventually our house was sold to the highest bidder and I ended up with a debt of forty-five thousand Euro or forty-seven thousand three hundred seventy-one USD.
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