– i don’t understand, he said

– why it helps if we understand more?, she asked
– yes. what does it matter, if the ending’s still the same?
– let me tell you another story.

“Once upon a time, there lived a little girl. She had two older brothers whom she loved very much. She was younger than them, much younger, but they adored her and looked after her. As she grew up, it would be the elder brother in particular that she’d turn to for help. He was funny, kind, gentle and friendly to everyone he met, but he was also strong and firm. The little girl was grateful for this, for she fell in love one day with someone who treated her like dirt. Fortunately, her brother was there to help her and protect her, and she managed to come out of the whole incident, relatively unscathed, and with a far bigger appreciation for a brother who stayed up with her when she was upset, who cooked her food when she didn’t feel like eating, who’d driven her where she’d needed to go in her little white Golf.

Then, one evening, they were driving home from a party, and she got home first. Instead of going to sleep straight away, she decided to put the kettle on so that they could have some tea and chat about the evening. But he didn’t come. At first, she wasn’t too worried- she’d left before he’d finished saying goodbyes. But as she finished her tea, she started to worry. He’d told her to take his car home, as her little Golf had been having engine trouble recently. Perhaps he’d run out of petrol, or the engine had blown for good. Finally, when the ticking of the clock sounded as loud to her as the ticking of a bomb timer, she grabbed her handbag, her keys, and was busy putting her jacket back on when her cellphone rang.”

– and?

“Twenty minutes later, she found herself in front of the police station. The night wind had picked up, and her thin jacket was quite warm, but she felt as though she’d been frozen to the ground. What was she doing here? Why wasn’t she at home? Where was her brother? The thoughts ran in her head in circles like hamsters stuck in hamster wheels. Then, she took a big breath, took a few steps forward, and pushed through the entrance door. She couldn’t remember what she said, or who she spoke to, but she found herself following a blue uniform down the corridor. Her high heels went click clack click clack against the floor, and she found herself wishing she hadn’t automatically grabbed her party shoes. Five doors down, they paused, and the blue uniform turned around, said gently, ‘You can go in’, then left her. She heard a loud knock. Was that her making all that noise? Yes, there her fist went again on the hard door. And a voice inside called ‘Come in.'”

– and then she walked inside and …

“She’d later find out that her brother had died a hour earlier as a result of a car accident. Her conscientious brother, who always obeyed all the road rules had fallen victim to a couple that had gone drag-racing after a drunken night out. The wife had lost control around a sharp bend, and had smashed into a white Golf that had just stopped at the red light. The driver inside would die on impact. Her white Golf. Her brother.

But that was later. She didn’t know this as she saw her brother’s wallet on the desk. And her CD carrier. And a book she’d borrowed from him a few weeks ago kept on the front seat of her car. A couple of loose coins were clumped in a heap. A joker’s hat that had been borrowed for the party was lying limp next to a mangled piece of black plastic, was that his cellphone? Then she saw the officer behind the desk, and as her heart started to throb very loudly in her head, she opened her mouth to say ‘No, stop, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know, please’, he very coolly met her eyes and said ‘If he’d been wearing his seatbelt, he’d still be alive.'”

– …. ow. that’s harsh. … i can’t believe he said that….. that’s the bloody last thing you say to someone who’s just lost someone!..


~ by translating for peas on January 15, 2010.

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