These darkened illusions

My favourite part in the movie is when Bruno denies his friendship with Shmuel and later runs down the stairs to find to his horror, that Shmuel is gone. But what if Shmuel was still there? What would have happened? This new fic explores this and so much more. This is for those who read Shattering Limits, which may or may not be going on hyatus.

Bruno's POV

I kick the book lying discarded by my feet and sit gingerly on the edge of my bed. I grab my hair and start pulling on chunks. I am the worst friend ever, the worst person ever. I just outright lied to get Shmuel into trouble.

Why? I think to myself. It was a terrible thing for me to do. I see now, that Gretel, Lieutenant Kotler, Father... they were all wrong. Shmuel isn't stupid, or a monster, or a rat, or anything else they call him, he's just... different. That doesn't make him any worse. Just different.

I wipe my eyes, then, I get up. I run, my feet pattering on the staircase, as I bolt straight for the kitchen.

Shmuel stands, head bent, fingers clasped so tight around the glass as though he will die if he drops it. His knuckles are icy white. His little body shakes slightly. I can see he's been crying and hard.

My heart and body struggle against our impulses. I sway back and forth on my feet, unable to move. My dry, cracked lips won't form words. There are so many things I want to say to him. How sorry I am, how much I hate myself, how I don't deserve such a good friend like him. But I think these things in my head and can't get them to be made into words.

I stare at Shmuel for a few more moments.

'Shmue...' I say. My voice sticks to my throat. I cough to unstick it. 'Shmuel.'

He looks up. His face goes bright red at seeing me, then, he bends his head again and acts like I'm not even there.

'Shmuel, please,' I beg. 'Look at me.'

He raises his head again, clutches the glass tighter, as if he thinks I'm going to steal it off him.

'I'm nearly finished.' he says. 'If you want a glass, just say and I'll clean it for you.'

'No,' I say, walking closer to him. 'I just came... to apologise.'


'For not telling the truth. For lying and trying to get you into trouble. I'm sorry, Shmuel, I'm so sorry.'

My breath comes in ragged gasps. My face is wet. I wipe my eyes on the back of my hand. Shmuel doesn't answer me. He keeps cleaning, head bowed. I am crying harder now, choking on my own sobs.

'It's not safe for you to be here. Like you said, ''we're not supposed to be friends, we're meant to be enemies''

Frantic, ashamed, hurt, guilty, I walk right up to Shmuel and put my hand on his shoulder. 'I... I d don't care abouff dat. I d don't care what people think. I don't care about my mother, my father, my sister, noone.'

I lean onto him for support, as though I will fall if I let go of him. His shoulder is warm under his ''pyjamas''

'Please.' My voice comes out like a goose being strangled. 'Please, tell me you forgive me and you'll be my friend again. Tell me.'

'I don't know, Bruno, I just don't know...' Shmuel edges away from me, as though he is ashamed to my hand on his shoulder. He looks almost afraid of me.

'Shmuel... oh, Shmuel,' I sob. I am crying now like no tommorow. I cry out Shmuel's name over and over again, letting my words get muffled with the sounds of my cries, so that every letter is drawn out, every syllable longer than it should be. It takes me a few minutes to finish each cry.

'Shmuel... Sh... mue...lllllll'

Warm arms reach for me, a dusty smell overpowers me as my face is buried in linen cloth. I choke on my words again. 'Shmuel, my Shmuel, my Shmuel, oh!'

It takes me a few moments to realise that these are Shmuel's arms that have embraced me so lovingly. He coos softly, like a mother hen.

'Oh, Bruno, oh, it's okay, oh, darling, oh, it's all right, Bruno, my dear, it's okay, shh.'

He is crying too, yet soft like a dove.

'Please,' I cry, my voice muffled from inside his chest.

'I know, Bruno, I know, it's okay. I forgive you, you don't need to cry any more. Shh, I'm here, I'm here for you, my dearest.'

I cling harder to him, sniffle. 'Oh, Shmuel, oh Shmuel.'

'I'm here, it's okay,' he coos. 'I'm right here. We'll be safe, Bruno, the mess out there won't reach us if we stick together, won't reach us at all.'

His voice sounds different, like it's come from some place where the doors already been shut.

I pull away from him, untangle myself from his embrace and leave him with outstretched, empty arms. I go and get us both tissues. I wipe my eyes and then start blowing my nose while Shmuel's doing the same, dabbing at the green on his pyjamas.

'I's sowwy I got snot on your pyjamas,' I lisp, because I am still crying heavily, a torrent, a monsoon, a tidal wave of tears.

'It's all right. I'm not mad.'

He picks up another glass. 'You should go now, I'll be waiting for you tomorrow.'

'Shmuel,' I say, wanting to stay in this moment forever. I move to go to him but he raises a hand to stop me.

'Go, play, do something.'

'What about Lieutenant Kotler?'

'It'll be fine, don't worry, like I said, the mess can't reach me if I know I have you.'

With a sudden lightness in my heart, I walk from the kitchen and up the stairs, but this time, I am not going to my bedroom.

'Lieutenant Kotler,' I say, knocking on the wooden door. 'Can I speak to you for a moment?'

And that is where I leave you, dearest readers. Please I grovel for your forgiveness on the shortness of it all. This is dedicated to fire storm pixie, who is so good to me and gives me kind reviews of Shattering Limits.