‘Karen! Open the door… please.’ Karen locked herself up in the bathroom for five minutes since her father confessed to his past acts. ‘I need you to understand…’
‘Understand what?’ She said as she opened the door. ‘That you chose to follow a senile old man threatened by a baby?’ They stared at each other in silence: Thomas Sawyer could see in his daughter’s eyes disgust and disdain. It was at this moment that he knew the worst happened: he lost her.
‘Times were different back then. We didn’t know, i didn’t know what was happening.’ He tried to sweeten his voice to gain her sympathy. ‘I just did what i thought was right for me, for my community, for my family… For you.’ Karen felt sick again.
‘You’re telling me you slaughtered an entire family and you didn’t even know why?’
‘They were dangerous. No one knows what that child is capable of. It’s an abomination. An unnatural creature. A monster!’ He became louder.
‘Says who? A mad man? And isn’t it every child’s future uncertain, though? Or even anybody? Did you know what i was capable of accomplishing when i was born? Didn’t you think for a second that your actions would the cause of his future?
‘Karen, be careful.’ Her mother interrupted.
‘What? They didn’t even give his parents a chance to raise him properly. And you would wonder how he could become evil!’ Thomas stepped closer to his daughter but she stepped away. ‘You know what: i can’t even look at you right now. I need to go.’
Karen isolated herself from anything and anyone to process her thoughts and feelings. She avoided her father knowing that if a conversation was engaged, words would travel faster than thoughts. And she stayed away from Chris feeling the guilt of her father’s actions rubbing off on her.
After few rainy days, clouds finally cleared up the sky, giving space for the sun to shine and cooling the atmosphere more than it already was. Karen decided to take advantage of this rare day and get a sunbath. Earbuds on, she walked in the streets, her mind still confined in her cave. A familiar voice suddenly pulled her out of her bubble. When she looked up, Chris removed his hood, revealing his hair to the breeze. She stared at him, startled by the coincidence.
‘How are you?’ He asked. As Karen stayed silent, he put his hood back on and started to walk away, when she stopped him.
‘I’m sorry.’ She abruptly yelled, her hand on his arm. ‘Sorry.’ She repeated, her head down as she realized passants gazed at them. Chris fixed her with a look then glanced at her hand tightening on him: he understood.
‘You don’t need to feel sorry. You did nothing wrong.’ He calmly said, as if he repeated those sentences more than once before. Karen let go of his arm and looked him in his eyes. He stared back at her and revealed a shy smile.
After a quick moment of silence, she glanced at a coffee shop behind her and invited him to have the talk that they both knew needed to happen. Sitting in the corner, beside the window, Karen waited for Chris to come back with their drinks. She ran in her minds, the speech that she would say to him to make him understand where her father stood during The Hunt and her feelings about it all. But when he took the seat in front of her, her mind went blank. She grabbed her hot chocolate and took a sip. She stared at him for a moment: he was sitting straight, his back against the back of the chair and his eyes staring blankly at the milkshake place between his hands on the table. She noticed that his hood was off. The silence that prevailed became heavier at each passing seconds, but Chris didn’t seem to disturb by it and Karen couldn’t find think of any ways to engage smoothly the obvious subject.
‘My father told me… What happened.’ she finally found the courage to say. He looked up at her, his expression still unchanged. She waited for him to reply anything to that statement but nothing came out. ‘I… I am sorry for what my father and the rest of my family did to yours.’ A gentle smile quickly appeared on his face. ‘You don’t seem upset.’ His brows frowned of interrogation. ‘If i was in your shoes, i would be angry at the world. I just know my father’s version and i’m ready to cut ties with him.’
‘I am… Angry.’ Chris confessed. Karen looked at him, startled. ‘But not at the world.’ He paused. ‘Just at the last member of the family that started all of it.’
Karen analized him: she couldn’t begin to imagine how Chris could feel seeing each member of his family die one after another, his entire life. She remained speechless, once again. A ringtone interrupted their silence. Karen glanced at her screen before turning it to silent mode. She looked at Chris who also was checking his phone. The latter felt her eyes on him.
‘I’m supposed to meet with John.’ He said. They exchanged a look. ‘Do you have some other place to be?’
After finishing their drinks, they stepped outside into the sea of body constantly moving on the sidewalk. The two of them followed the stream and headed to Chris’ favorite fast food where John waited for them. Once reunited, they walked in the Wok to Walk shop and ordered some food before sitting at a table far away from the entrance. While their noodles are being cooked, Chris disappeared into the bathroom, leaving Karen and John on their own. The latter glanced at her and noticed something has changed.
‘You know.’ She said. Karen stared at him as he nodded. ‘For how long?’
‘Our parents are close friends. I’ve known Chris since birth almost.’ John replied. Karen showed an interrogative face. ‘My father helped his family hide from the Garners. He knew what he was getting involved in.’
‘So you know about mine?’ Her voice lowered. John simply smiled. ‘Who else knows… About him?’ John glanced at her once again. She lifted her right eyebrow. ‘Everyone!? I’m the last one to know?’ John nodded. ‘How did they found out?’
‘For the guys, they figured it out by themselves. I just filled in some blanks for them. Sarah knows from what happened to her. And Charlotte from Sarah.’ He paused. ‘And for some reasons, he wanted to tell you.’ He paused again, letting the informations sinking in. ‘Do you know what that implies?’ Karen stared at him uncertain. ‘We are a very few people who know who he really is. And it has stay this way. For his own safety and ours. Unfortunately, amongst us, there are people who want him dead…Unless you’re one of them…’ His sentence stayed suspended in the air as Chris came back.
Their afternoon went by without any of them mentionning the past. A light mood hovered over them. They wandered around at a slow pace like old people. The sun traveled half of the world to meet the horizon, as the moon revealed itself. Streets cleared up when lights turned on. In between subjects, a vibration made Karen jump. She checked her screen and stared at it until vibrations ended. Her locked screen showed twelve missed calls and the same amount of voicemails. Intrigued, she listened to one of them. Through the device, she heard her father’s voice panicking and shouting scary words like ambushed, beat up and hospital. She froze in mid-walk. Suddenly, a car pulled over next to them. A man stormed out and furiously walked toward them.
‘Karen! Where have you been?’ He shouted. ‘Your brother has been found by…’ His eyes shifted from left to right, then locked on her hooded friend. He froze. In a second of full clarity, he made a realization: ‘You!’. Without any further thought, Thomas Sawyer approached him, his fist closed and, in a flowing movement, punched Chris.
To be continued