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Flames Of The Past

Tanja Kimm

Flames Of The Past

A Short Story


For all the ones who will read this. I am beyond grateful.


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A Short Story

Before

Whenever I think of my father when I was a little girl, I can’t help but think of the huge smile that he always wore when he came home after a long day at the factory and spotted me at the end of our driveway, waiting for him to park his Honda. A smile that could ban dark clouds from a gray November sky and that could even make you forget the deepest, darkest worries you had inside of you.

As soon as he had opened the door of his car, I would run down to him, having him opening his arms, catching me in full flight and spinning me around until I couldn’t see the outlines of the world around me and thought I had to throw up every minute. I would smell the coal and dust on his skin, and somewhere underneath it, his strong aftershave, and I would snuggle up to that smell for the entire way up our driveway, into the house, up the stairs into my bedroom, where he always tucked me under my blankets with a kiss and, just before he switched off the lights, gave me that contagious smile again, saying “Night, little princess. Don’t let the bedbugs come and get you.” To what I would giggle away until I fell into a dreamless sleep.

My dad was the kindest, most warmhearted person I know.

At least until I was nine years old.

Then, one night, Henry Hamilton turned into a ruthless, reckless and coldblooded torturer who seemed to have never heard the word “kindness” in his entire life.

I found out who he really was on March, 22nd, 1988. When I was little, we had one rule in our home, just one rule that my father had put up as soon as me and my older brother, Ben, were able to understand it. But that special rule was never, under no circumstance, to be disobeyed.

Stay away from the basement.

Of course, telling two little kids something that they are not supposed to do is most likely the easiest way to get them to exactly do that. Everyone knows that, and so did my brother and me. One night, long after our father had once again tucked us in, and, after a lot of begging, had read us a bedtime story (at that time, I was absolutely obsessed with “The Little Mermaid”; I found it fascinating to just give up the life you’ve known for so long for something you only heard of or dreamed about), I had woken up to strange sounds that came up from the basement.

For a couple of minutes, I just lay there in my bed, trying to block them out and fall asleep again, but not only did Ben in the bed opposite of me snore like a walrus, I also had always been a curious little thing since the first time I was able to walk on my own. The things that were forbidden and mysterious always had a special appeal with me that I could not dodge, and I never really had developed a healthy sense for dangerous situations. One year earlier, I had broken my arm while I was trying to ride Ben’s skateboard down our driveway; just when I realized I had no idea how to brake, I noticed a car coming down our street, with me directly rushing towards it. Somehow I ended up turning upside down, crashing into the little wall that separated our property from our neighbors next door (it neither was the first, nor the last time that my horrified parents drove me to the emergency room with tears in their eyes, while I was curiously staring at every broken bone or gaping wound on my body without ever screaming or crying, having everyone around me stating “what a brave little girl I was”).

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