I don’t know the time, how many days it’s been, but I do know that it’s been days, perhaps a week? Or perhaps two? The room is always dark, nothing but the fire of the stove or the faint light of the oil lamps illuminates my lonely prison and I have nothing to do but to wait, nothing to do, but to escape in the memories of the past and…
…Waiting for him, I’ve come to expect him; perhaps even missing him when he’s away. He talks to me, the only person in this place who talks to me. Even now, I faintly try to get some sense of time, counting minutes… moments really, to when he returns. It seems like such a long wait, this darkness and silence frighten me, this loneliness frightens me, it consumes me, eats me little by little and I’m beginning to lose my mind, I think I have, I must have… What life is this? How long must I stay? I hear voices, dreams mixes with reality and I can’t tell for certain what really is real.
What if they forget me? What if he won’t come? What if they leave me dying of hunger, dying in my own filth?
There’s also a woman, she comes to me regularly, takes me to another room where I’m being washed, where I can take care of my bodily functions, it’s still embarrassing but I try not to think about it much, just block everything out, escape… Two men with guns, neither of them speak, the woman does not speak, not like he speaks to me. It feels like a dream when they come for me, and sometimes I wonder if I’m already dead and this is my hell, it’ so surreal … all I hear is laughter… But he speaks to me… sometimes he touches… and it’s so tender that I’ve started to long for it, I want to feel that I’m still human, that I’m still me, worthy of another human’s touch. Does that make sense? I wonder…
In the darkness I wait and finally he enters, closes the door behind him and smiles, I think I’ve already forgotten how to smile, for I try, but it feels foreign on my face, out of place and wrong.
He walks closer, speaks and finally kneels down beside me.
I look at the food he has with, my stomach expressing its hunger and again he smiles at me bringing the spoon closer, but I shake my head.
“Please, Alexander,” My voice sounds hoarse after such a long time without being used, I bring my bound hands forward, “what could I do even if I had my hands free?” I ask him.
I go to him whenever I can, every night if possible. When I’m not with him, I think of him, sometimes I dream that he speaks to me, for he hasn’t yet, not since that morning when he begged for my help and I failed him.
I feel guilt, strong and powerful guilt, for being so helpless, selfish, I have not done enough. He is innocent, shouldn’t be here, war doesn’t justify this…
Yes, I am selfish… I find his presence calming, I talk to him of things that I can not talk of to others, he does not understand, but he listens and I feel easier with my secrets, I feel like I can breathe easier with them…
It’s been eleven days… By the night fall I return to him.
I find myself smiling when I enter and see him there, and to my surprise he smiles back; it’s a weary smile, but a smile still.
‘’’You know, I’ve come to expect these moments with you…’’’ I tell him as I walk closer.
I kneel down beside him, hearing his hunger; I smile and bring the spoon closer, but to my surprise he shakes his head.
“Ole kiltti, Alexander,” he speaks with hoarse voice and I blink in surprise just hearing it and hearing my own name, “Mitä voisin tehdä vaikka käteni olisivatkin vapaat?”
Foreign words… and yet in his eyes I see…
‘’’The rope burns your skin?’’’ I ask carefully, putting the bowl down and taking his hands in mine, looking at them before looking back in his green eyes. ‘’’What is your name?’’’ I ask the question that’s been plaguing my mind all these days. ‘’’I’m Alexander, who are you?’’’
He’s silent for some time, just looking at me and just when I’m beginning to think that he doesn’t understand what I’m asking…
“Elias, nimeni on Elias.”
’’’Elias,’’’ I repeat with a nod, the name sounds somehow fitting for him. I start to work to get the rope open, swallowing, feeling nervous. ‘’’He wants to see you, the lieutenant,’’’ I continue, glancing at his face. Before I’ve been able to convince the man that the boy has been ill, but now… ‘’’I wish I could keep you from him, but to be honest I have no idea how…’’’ Once he has his hands free I gently place the bowl between them. ‘’’Eat now…’’’ My smile is faint, suddenly I feel heavy in my chest, so useless, helpless…
“Kiitos,” the boy whispers, eating carefully, his hands trembling slightly as he does so.
’’’I have been thinking, I-‘’’ I look in his eyes, see him looking back at me, ‘’’I want to help you out, I just don’t know how, you have to give me time.’’’
Silence settles between us, the boy lies down, looking at me as if waiting for something, but I can’t tell what, so I start to talk like before, talk about my day, the life I used to lead, things, normal things, and when he’s fallen asleep I crawl in next to him, the warmth alluring, the illusion… tempting. For these moments, moments of sleep, I’m able to fool myself into thinking that it could be normal…. that it could be more. Yes, I am selfish, there’s a part of me that wants to keep him.
I don’t understand his motives, I sense warmth in him, but part of me is still doubtful. I am being kept here, I don’t want to be here, he is my only comfort and at the same time he is keeping me captive and bound. What should I feel?
Alone, I’m still not accustomed in this silence, I long to see the daylight just a peak, small peak… This darkness and silence will kill me, slowly they shall. When the door opens I already know that it won’t be him. I look away when the hands reach for me, when the others unbind my legs so I can move, they speak, but all I hear is laughter.
I don’t care…
I walk between the two men, gazing down at the floor on my path, my feet are cold; I’m not worthy of shoes…
I’m surprised to find the usual cold water warm; I’m surprised by the sweet scent of the bathing oil and the tenderness of the woman’s hands. I would prefer the coldness, I would prefer the roughness for this change is unnerving, any change is unnerving, it is too good and they never allow anything good on me so this must mean… if anything it can’t be good. My hair is being brushed down, warm oil stroked gently on my skin and it leaves that sweet scent lingering around me, then clothed…
And when they lead me out of the room, my suspicion is confirmed, another direction that leads away from my dark prison, down the hall that is lit with daylight coming from the windows… WINDOWS, I look, fascinated to find that the world still exists and the ground is covered with white, sun peaking out behind the clouds, making the snow glimmer in its light and it almost makes me weep, I had forgotten how beautiful it can be.
And then we reach a door, the men stop, still holding me firmly in between them and I know… I know I was right and my heart begins to beat faster and faster. One of them knocks on the door and when the voice answers my feet almost give up, I feel about to faint, not here, anywhere but here…
The two men escorting me give a mutual smirk seeing my fear and the door is pushed open.
He sits in front of his desk, the light coming from the window behind him surrounds him, almost making an angelic glow around him, and if I wasn’t scared I’d laugh at the irony. The monster smiles… no; he smirks, crossing his arms on the table as I quiver from fear in front of him.
He stands next, slowly making his way towards us, his eyes glued on my figure and all I can do is tremble helplessly in the hold they have me in, my breathing getting shaky.
His hand reaches out to touch my face and I try to pull away, he laughs.
“How did you find your bathing this morning?” He asks, but I can’t find my voice to answer. “I should expect some gratefulness, not all my prisoners get such pleasure,” he continues. I feel hatred, deep and powerful.
“What pleasure is that?” My words spiteful, I glare at him; the reason of why I’m being brought into this hell. He only smiles, unaffected, his finger lowering down to caress my lips. I try to pull away.
‘’’Leave us,’’’ he speaks to the other men.
‘’’Sir, are you sure?’’’ Says the other and I see the man glaring at him with narrowed eyes.
‘’’Of course I’m sure.’’’
‘’’What ever you wish Lieutenant,’’’
The door closes behind the men, leaving us alone. I can feel him there, even when I look away, I can feel him.
“I’m glad to see that you are healthy.” He speaks, still touching my face with false tenderness.
I keep my mouth shut.
“Volkov told me that you were sick, we thought you might have pneumonia.”
Volkov… Alexander? The man circles me like a hunter would a prey. I feel his touch…
“I think he’s quite taken with you… have you enjoyed his touch? I can bet he has enjoyed yours, but he’s gotten rather selfish… keeping such a treat to himself…”
He lied saying I was sick? They think he has… But he hasn’t, he hasn’t harmed me… The man stands behind me, his hands on my shoulders as he slides the shirt down, I shiver from cold, tears rise to my eyes and I stare numbly out the window, the sun is shining….
His lips on my skin… It is as if death itself was kissing me… In a way I guess it is.
The monster speaks to me as it touches me… Tells me what I have been wondering, I wonder if it realises how much this information comforts me? He’s tried to help me, even if just a little, he tried to keep me from here. My instinct was right about him…
I can’t stop crying when he tears my clothes away, when he pushes me against his table, I know what is to come and every inch of my being dreads it, hates it…
“Why?” My voice is weak and hoarse, “why?” He kicks my legs apart, hot breathing against my neck.
“Because I can…” He laughs, “I do it because I can…”
He thrusts in and I hear my own scream that follows… The rays of sun warming my face, the clean white snow sparkling…. a bird… I see a bird, on the windowsill outside, it looks in, I look back at it, and focus on it and when the bird flies away I fool myself into thinking that I could follow.
I could follow… I’m not here… not really here…
He slaps my sore bum and from my weary dreamlike state I travel back to the reality. Battered and bruised, but I wasn’t here when it happened, I was flying home… Why did I have to return?
My throat hurts, making me realise that I had been screaming all that while, but I wasn’t there… It had to be someone else…
I feel myself trembling all over; he throws the clothes at me.
“You can get dressed.” He smiles; it doesn’t suit him, the smile that is. A monster who smiles… no, it’s not a smile at all.
This is not living, I think to myself while pulling the torn clothes on. I look at the man, hating him; I’ve never hated so much.
“It was fun playing with you,” He tells me walking behind his desk, taking a cigarette and lighting it. “We must do that more often,” he taunts, laughing at my pain.
I don’t say a word, but silently I vow to myself that he will pay for what he’s done to me. Somehow I’ll take him down with me.
Before the men come to take me back, I’m able to sneak a piece of paper and a pen under the rim of my pants.
And when they lead me back into my prison, all I can do is wait for him to come.
“Tiedän, mitä teit hyväkseni. Kiitos, että yritit.”
When I hand the small note to Alexander that evening, he frowns as he tries to read it, to no avail. When he looks into my eyes, I offer him a small smile, I know that somehow, he’ll find a way…
My Secret Shore