Rhea kept trying to lick his hand until he laced up his bunny boots with habitual movements. Whining and wagging her tail, by whole her appearance the dog was trying to show that she was distressed for him. Wife appeared in the doorway: “Take a warm jacket, it is snowing outside.”
After closing the door behind her husband, she has fed the dog, opened a drawer and took a small silver spoon. That’s the one they’ve bought when their son was born. The woman fingered it mechanically, unable to think about the past, about how quiet and empty their home turned to be… especially in these days when her husband went to the city. He did this every week, at 7 am Sunday. For more than a year. At first, he simply said that he had business there, then that goes to visit a friend. But one day, when he saw the pain in his eyes, she stopped asking.
Lonely path of shallow footprints in the fresh snow led to the east. Day was only breaking and the city was empty. Streets, decorated with snow, were comfortably lighted by orange lampposts; rows of sleeping cars routinely gathered along the roads. Street sweepers were already on duty, as always complaining about the weather; warm light began to break out from windows: the city was waking up.
An hour later he was almost on the spot. Here it was – a familiar light gray building with bars on the windows. Third floor, second room on the left. He nodded to the guard and entered.
Shorn bald boy did not turn around. His stooped shoulders and attitude of despair while he sat at the table, were saying that his life was hardly filled with joy. “You write to family?” asked the man. The boy nodded. Coming closer, with some uncertainty the man put a hand on his shoulder: “They will accept you … after some time.” The guy looked up at him and smiled wryly.
He was older than it seemed at the first glance – about 21-22 years old… the last two of which he spent in prison. Exactly the same time ago the war ended. And while his peers were inventing new Internet applications, riding motorcycles or traveling, he was sitting in a small cell with a small window “into the wild”. The only thing he saw outside the prison was a tree behind this window. He watched as in spring its sprouts appeared, then the fluffy white flowers with red and yellow dots, then …
Then this man came. He introduced himself as Ivan Sergeyitch and said he was a social worker. Initially, communication between them failed: everyone in this town seemed to him as an enemy who hates him. But eventually, when he realized that “family” didn’t care about him, and when the first letters home were unanswered, he started to look at this strange man in a different way. Gradually, he began to trust him, talked about his school, the teachers, friends … and about who and why ordered him to blow a pipe bomb in a residential area.
A man in bunny boots looked at the lone figure in the corner for the last time and went out. His task here was over: information, sufficient to convict other participants of the terrorist attack, was gathered. After filing a report and passing documents, prepared long ago, he come out.
Light and bustle outside strongly contrasted with the dark and silent prison facilities. Life was in full swing, and crowds of people were hurrying somewhere on business. But the man knew that even when there is no evidence of danger or threat, somewhere there is a war. Insidious, cruel and indifferent. Yes, now it’s not here, not in these quiet streets, not in these warm windows. But it’s somewhere out there – in homes destroyed by explosions, in cold trenches, in the frozen eyes of killed people, on mutilated and burnt lands. In the minds of those who are plotting violence. Sometimes it comes into peaceful cities and kills even children. It killed his child, and more than a year every Sunday the father who lost his son came to talk to his son’s murderer.
It was seven in the evening, and the woman was anxiously looking at the road. She should have told him long ago, but she just couldn’t. Unconsciously touching her belly, she was afraid of bad memories, afraid that it was not the right time, afraid of everything. Rhea, who waited on the doorstep for a long time already, wagged her tail. A few seconds later the door opened and he appeared on the threshold.