It was happening slowly. It was subtle. Like an invisible enemy it grew into me step by step. First I became aware of it at the age of 13. I lived in a house that belonged to my dad and his family. I was sitting at the desk in my room. The room was spacious and the large windows were facing east. Wide window sills held few of the plants that were growing happily. Beside the windows there was a glass door leading to the balcony that encircled a good portion of the house. Through the windows and over the balcony I could see the big estate that we owned. Further away, in a distance, there were white dull skyscrapers of the city.
The walls of my room were painted yellow and the wall colour could only be seen in between pop and rock star posters. My favorites were Madonna, Samantha Fox, Europe and A-Ha. On the small brown desk beside my bed there was the cassette player and the cassettes were scattered on the floor and on the bed sheets. The writing desk was between the balcony door on one side and the room entrance door on the other.
That day I was writing in my diary. In the left hand I held a tube of glue and in my right hand the cut photo of the teenage girl and boy, holding each other. I cut it from the “Bravo” magazine, which back issues were neatly stacked on the desk. They were both in underwear and the girl was in guy’s arms. I leaned over and after gluing it in the diary, I wrote “me and Jasmina” beside the photo. We met two days before at the local beach. Then I glanced at the young man in the photo.
‘ He is good looking and cute ‘, the thought occurred while glancing down his chest and legs. ‘ I wonder how it would feel to lay in his arms’. Before I finished the thought I looked away and slammed the diary shut.
I looked up towards the door. It was wooden with a big stained glass in the middle and the outline of the hallway behind it was visible. The silhouette of my mom just passed from the living room, across the hall to the kitchen. She was moving fast. I heard her yelling:
“Stop terrorizing me!”
The deeper voice followed: ” Don’t talk to me like that”. My dad shouted back loud enough for a neighbour to hear it. His silhouette also followed. Muffled shouting continued.
“What a jerk.” I told to myself while my whole body sat uptight in a chair, facing the door. “He even dares to say that he doesn’t like how she talks to him. What about all the things that he is doing to us?” I continued while looking at the Modern Talking poster, not aware of what was there.
My dad was in the middle of yet another drunken phase and now was the most violent part of it.
‘Why is he doing this to us? Why doesn’t he love us enough to stop drinking?’ I felt too restless to sit. I stood up and went outside to the balcony to calm my thoughts. The sun was strong, warming my face. ‘ Well, if it goes as always, in a couple of days he will start vomiting, sleeping and getting sober. Then at least we’ll have few days of peace. Maybe then I and he can watch a western together.’ I chuckled thinking about the funny sound of a gun going off in old movies.
Months went by.
I was walking from school to my grandma’s home. The bag on my shoulders was heavy but since it wasn’t cool to wear it on both shoulders behind the back any more, I decided to endure the pain. Not pondering on the pain, I felt alive. I was thinking about the 8th grade girl: ‘ She was so beautiful when she was walking down those stairs, just beautiful.’ I noticed my mouth was in a wide smile and my step became lighter. I reached my grandma’s house when I could hear the school bell announcing the start of the afternoon classes. The smell of food oozing out the front door into the front garden was delicious and inviting.
While eating, my mind wandered away. I saw school mates , other guys. I shuffled in my chair.
“Is everything all right? Do you need more salt?” grandma asked.
“No, I’m fine.” I answered, looking somewhere beyond the kitchen. My thoughts went back to the school playground: As usual, I was sitting on the metal fence having fun with another friend of mine. As usual most other guys were playing soccer. It was ok for me to watch them. I felt safe not playing. I thought that we were not the same. I saw them as strong and courageous.
A friend shouted from the middle of the field:
“Come, join us, we will beat them!”, he waived to me, sweat drops on his face.
“No, it’s ok. I’m fine.” I replied, shrinking a bit in size on that fence. However, I thought : ‘ It’s cool that he asked me to play. He cares about me. Why doesn’t my dad care about me?’ I clenched my fist tight.
After finishing the lunch at my grandma’s place, I went home. Upon arriving I went straight to my room. The cat was sleeping on a sofa, stretched diagonally, paws hanging from sides. It checked me without moving. From the school bag I pulled out the comic book that someone gave me. It sure looked like a regular, letter size comic book, but actually it was a porn story. Sitting on my bed, I opened it. The plot and sexual scenes changed with a turn of a page.
I paused. My eyes grew wider as I saw an unusual scene: the family driver was driving his boss to a certain meeting. The man was nervous and stressed and the driver suggested he’d stop the car and help him relax.
‘Hmm, this is weird.’ I thought and continued reading. In the next scene the driver sat at the back, beside his boss and they started to kiss and then had sex. The scene that followed showed two men with happy and relaxed faces. I was staring at the black and white picture for a few seconds. Shutting the book I looked up and said:
” I wonder…”