… The remains of an old Fiat 127 reversed teetering on the edge of a guard rail along a narrow clifftop route. X’s parents were outside of the car, on the road covered in blood but still breathing. X is walking, she doesn’t know where to look. She is scared of heights. Now she is running to her parents; they are close to each other in the same area of the road. X first crouches down to see her mum in tears. A few unclear words are muttered, then she dies… X woke up after only a few hours of rest. This was a recurring dream in those days when she had realised that death exists…
… and actually understanding at such a young age, and on such a deep level, that we are all going to die was so shocking for X. So terrible and romantic, sad and beautiful. She spent nights and days, even whilst at school, trying to understand why the hell humans are so unlucky to be born just to experience a material life in this world and then die sometimes in terrible ways. She was terrified when listening to the news on TV about murders. Watching, listening and believing the news made her so aware of the evil environment in which she was living. She had violent nightmares, dark visions of evil people and she started asking everyone around her questions about life and death that none of the adults could understand. Her parents underestimated her thoughts and fears as they were also having their own problems. Their relationship at that time seemed so fake and toxic. She couldn’t understand why her mum spent nights crying. Her dad wasn’t happy and her brother was a perverted little child. Also her cousins were riddled with problems. She became aware of the existence of the hatred and violence around her. But still, killing another human sounded like total nonsense to X at that time. Also realising that human bodies not only get sick but that they can actually die and rot due to some specific illnesses was another shock for X. All the while X was completely absorbed in her own dark visions trying to understand the world of the adults, her mum was continuing to study until one day she passed the final test.
Not long after that, she started to do an apprenticeship in a Catholic primary school for orphaned children in town. She had more free time in the afternoons and as a consequence of this, X could go back home from school with her sometimes. She was 9 years old back then and she wasn’t really happy about this change. The time with her grandma and her favourite aunt seemed so much better to X and the idea of spending more time with her brother was awful and terrifying. The alternative to this was spend the afternoon in that Catholic school which was even worse. In fact, that school was managed by nuns, one more evil than the other. The children were weird: one in particular had his face completely burned and seemed like a monster in the eyes of X. She dreamed of his face several times and in the end she realised that it was better for her to stay at home.
X’s brother, Z, was 15 years old at that time; he was a good looking boy and he had a couple of friends: they were all awful daddies’ boys with a lot of money and no real interests in life, except for first sexual experiences and “transgressive” things of any sort. At some point Z and his friend S started reading a satanic book. S was the son of the funeral director in town. He was completely nuts; a very beautiful boy with the saddest blue eyes you could ever see; he was the one who brought to X’s brother a massive black book with a red goat impressed in the leather cover. He also brought the pillows and sheets his dad used to arrange the bodies for the burial recesses. Z used to keep these weird objects in his bedroom closet away from his mum, who one day eventually found the book. She was absolutely terrified of asking the reason why he was reading such a book. She thought that was just another way to express rebellion.
“I know where he’s coming from” she thought.
X found the book too. She found the drawings in it extremely interesting though she didn’t understand the rest of its contents very well. She didn’t even know what a Satanic Bible was. It was just another fantasy book for her. Very soon X got addicted to that book. She never told anyone that she had found it or that she kept reading it every time that she could. When X was alone she would take the book from the bottom drawer of Z’s bedroom dresser and she would quietly creep downstairs into the dark basement. She would turn on the light of the dusty dirty lamp and read carefully a few pages every day. Then she would put the book back in the exact same place. No-one never realised that she had read it all, no-one never knew that she had drawn all those fascinating symbols in her notebook and no-one could ever imagine that thanks to that book she had started to better understand the evilness in the world around her. Concepts such compassion and destruction that were not clear to X at all at first, became clear when reading the book. When the book disappeared, one miserable winter day, it was awful for X. At least she still had her drawings to remember it and slowly the desire to touch that black leather cover faded away.
Sometimes Z and his friend S went to the basement with a flask of pure alcohol and they would spill the alcohol, drawing a Jewish star on the floor with it. Then Z or S took a lighter and they used the big fire which started to hellishly light up the star on the floor. This happened a couple of times and they called X to watch and see how brave they were. She was impressed by how quickly the cold basement became suddenly hot. But S at the end of the day was a good guy; he was her favourite from that bunch of evil people whom her brother brought home.
There was another one called J: he was evil. He had an obsession for horror movies and he used to fill a table in a notebook with the titles of every single horror movie he watched, giving each one a mark based on his appreciation of it. At that time splatter movies were very popular among teenagers and when X’s parents went out for some reason and X was doing her homework or simply reading a book, they often knocked the door of her bedroom and took her in the kitchen where there was the TV screen and a VHS recorder. They literally tied her up in a wooden kitchen chair and forced her to watch the most terrible scenes from some of the most violent horror movies of the time. She couldn’t close her eyes otherwise they would slap her or laugh in her face calling her: “Lazybones baby”.
X hated Christmas. For her Santa Claus was an evil serial killer who chopped off the heads of every child he went to visit. He didn’t bring any presents or candy. He was just a terrifying big man with a white beard and an evil smile fixed on his face. In his bag there were heads of children still hot with lost life and in his hand there was an axe still dirty with blood. His purpose was to decorate a massive Christmas tree with children’s heads as balls ornaments, which eventually would have light on the 24th night.
This was the story her brother told her since she was able to understand and she believed it so deeply that every Christmas she spent nights crying and calling for her dad.
Her mum was often crying and running in circles around the kitchen table, whilst her dad was shouting sometimes with a belt in his hand. Then heavy metal Anthrax tunes were coming from Z’s bedroom at a very high volume… Flashback memories of 9 year old X.
X soon realised that the only way to survive was by reading and imagining other scenarios, other realities, through books. She started reading every book in the house, even the oldest books in the basement – dusty and dirty with broken covers. She started asking for books from relatives and everyone she could. At school she spent as much time as she could at the Library. Soon she developed a huge passion for literature and started writing herself too. Her stories were often touching and difficult to understand. She liked to read some of them to her grandma who was so proud of her. X’s English teacher was so impressed that her compositions were usually read to the entire class as examples of an imaginative brain and good creative writing skills. Though at school X was judged by teachers as a peculiar girl, she was always one of the cleverest girls in the class, the others of whom were just very simple good mummy’s girls who spent their afternoons studying. X instead didn’t study much and was a pain for all of the teachers and often quiet within the class. She didn’t have many real friends during primary school.
At some point the stories of X became evil and her teacher, who was so positive and impressed before, became concerned. Characters started dying. Animals first, then people. X started collecting bones of dead animals, worms, snails from the soil; leaving them to rot in plastic boxes and then studying the shells.
Why did the little cat in your story die, X? – said the teacher
Because we all die.
Thanks to @zhasaintzha for editing this chapter