Chapter 4: Book of Memories

Ah, Valentine's Day. The one day to celebrate love everywhere. It was a day I would always remember as one of the few days I saw Mother in a good mood, because Father had given her flowers and a box of chocolate. She even let me stay up to 9 p.m. to watch TV, when at that hour she always sent me off to sleep.

That night was special, because she had a beautiful beige dress, for Father was going to take her out to a fancy restaurant. She was in her bedroom applying some perfume, while humming a melody I had never heard. Then Father came from behind her and hugged her, whispering romantic, silly things in her ear which caused her to smile. But that smile quickly faded as she saw me watching her, because her face had quite an awkward expression.

I walked away, but I could not take that scene off my mind. I always wanted to grow up, to see the day when I would kiss a girl, and give her flowers and candy. That was one of the things I wanted to do when I grew up...and was quite similar to one I found in the notebook.

With shaky fingers and trembling hands, I opened the notebook, letting my fingers slid through the plastic material. Despite the time it had been closed and abandoned in that locked room, it looked almost new, as if time had stopped in that room so the things in there wouldn't be affected by it. The first page only had one picture, of a blond-haired boy hugging a bear.

I couldn't shake off the feeling of how much that boy looked like the one I had seen in my nightmares. This thought stuck in my head as my fingers flipped through the pages, admiring every picture and letter, which contained such memories of happy days and warm breezes I had never felt in this house. That's when I found a short letter, clumsily written:

Dear Mommy, how are you-

Dear Mommy, I love you so much that-

Mommy, I'm your favourite boy, not Martin, and-

Mommy, do you love me as much as I-

I couldn't help my tears from falling on the sheet. In their fading, inaccurate colours, those half-written sentences had moved my heart. If only I knew who could be this kid who made so beautiful pictures and whose heart seemed to be so full of love. Obviously, that wasn't Martin. So, who could it be?

Suddenly, I found another written page. This time it wasn't a letter but a list, like the ones Mother used to write when she went to buy groceries or leave the chores for us to do. Only this one was titled "Ten things I must do when I become a real boy", and here it was:

1- Hide Martin's helicopter and his toy soldiers.

2- Go to school

3- Learn to cook for Mommy and Henry, and eat Mommy's food

4- Swim in the pool with Teddy

5- Go to the circus

6- Read the entire Pinocchio book

7- Have a birthday party and eat lots of cake

8- Kiss a girl

9- Graduate

10- Grow up

I assumed this boy was related to Martin, and knowing how Martin was when he was younger (as Father once told me, much to Martin's dismay), it would've been normal wanting to get back at him for childhood pranks. Go to school? I wondered why didn't he attend school, unless Mother had a reason to have him home-schooled. Learn to cook? Well, Mother was a fairly good cook, and sometimes I wanted to help her out in the kitchen, but she'd always say no, with a puzzled look on her face. But when it was Father's turn to cook, he always let me help, and I enjoyed it so much I understood this boy for wanting it too.

As I kept reading, I realized how much he and I had in common, because I loved going to the circus, that is, when Father and Martin had time to take me. And it seemed we both loved cake and parties, at least that's what I could see. I really felt for this kid, who seemed to have so many dreams that, somehow, he couldn't fulfill.

The eighth point was a bit odd, though. I did not know many girls at school, let alone kissing one! I did see Martin kissing his girlfriends, or Father kissing Mother, and the kisses on the romantic movies Mother would watch on TV while doing the laundry. Sure, I could see how it was like, but I didn't know what it felt like. And that's another point this boy and I agreed at.

As I kept reading, what really got me was the last point: growing up. What could be so great about it? Losing your innocence, assuming new responsibilities in life? If that was so, why do some people wish they had never grown up? I couldn't keep thinking about it, because when I arrived to the last page, I read the word "David" on bold, black marker.

"David?" I said, and my voice echoed in the room, and I couldn't believe what I heard after that. A giggle, just like the one I heard in the sewing room!

I looked around, feeling so scared I could barely move properly. I gasped as I felt a cold breeze ran down my spine, while my thoughts were fixed on thinking about something, anything that may help to stop the fear I had, to stop the haunting feeling that reigned on my mind.

Little by little, I could move again. The breeze gently hit my face, as I ran away from the bedroom. But, once I closed it, and then opened it slightly to peek in, I found nothing unusual. What could that have been? Had my mind been tricking me all along? I just wished these mind games could just stop...

I ran down the stairs towards the kitchen, and I got myself a glass of water. I took it back to my room and, after making sure no one was there but me, I sat on my bed and opened the notebook again.

As I read the notes, I wondered who this David kid could be. This boy who seemed to find happiness in life's simplest things, a good meal, bright colors, dreams and hopes. All I knew was his name, which, as a mere coincidence, matched my own middle name. Could it be possible for me to meet him? Where could he be? Living with some relatives?

My mind went in a lot of directions, not knowing which one to take. All I had with me was that book, filled with memories, colorful figments of happier times that would never take place again.



A new friendship helps Adrian to open up to his family, but the hidden secrets in it may not be so easy to reveal...

Coming soon: "Conspiracy of Silence"