It took me an eternity to turn and face him.
"Thank you," he said. "Now please, sit down."
Time had stopped. I couldn't move. My eyes, I thought, as the dark began to close in on me. "I'm going blind."
"Hardly. You may be going mad, though. Now, please, sit down."
I felt my weight shift as I started to walk towards him, slowly and awkwardly. I gasped when my hips hit something hard and I began to fold over, stifling a cry of pain as my hands grasped for support. After a brief moment of blind panic I realised I had stumbled against the edge of the desk, and I began to fumble to find my chair.
Right, the chair was on the floor. I remembered now, I had heard it fall over when I had made my dash for the door.
"Sorry," I mumbled as I bent down to pick up the chair.
"That's quite alright."
"Good. Now that wasn't so hard, was it?"
What was he talking about? "No, sir."
Careful, I told myself. You can get out of this. You can get out of here alive.
Amidst the darkness that still surrounded us I could see him leaning forward, an expression of detached interest on his face. "Do you still believe you're going blind?"
"No, sir." I could see him looking at me expectantly. "It is rather dark in here, though." Careful, I reminded myself. Don't criticise him. "I've been blind for a while. I'm kind of frightened about it happening again."
"Really? How did that happen?"
No, I thought. Please. And then a voice inside me said, yes. Give him what he wants. Keep him interested. Time is on your side, and he can't keep you in here forever.
"I'm not sure." Keep talking. "I almost died."
"You almost died because you were blind?"
Damn. "No, it happened afterwards. After I tried to take my own life, and almost succeeded." The words came out in a whisper.
I shifted forwards on my seat and looked down on my clenched hands, no longer able to face him. "That's when I found out," I said.
"What I'd done." Don't go there, I told myself. And yet, I knew this was what he wanted to hear.
"What have you done?"
No, I thought. I can't. No. But I knew he wouldn't let go after what I had already given him. "That thing. What you said."
Still unable to look up, I heard him shift in his seat. "You'll have to make yourself more clear."
"I was in the war."
"Well, I'm sure you know what it was like." That's it, I told myself. Bet his hands aren't too clean, either.
"I killed people. But I'm sure you know that. We all did."
"What kind of people?"
He's going somewhere with this. What does he want to hear? Of course, Agromas. "What do you mean?"
"Where these people soldiers? Where they trying to kill you, and were you acting in self-defense?"
Yes, that was it. Could it be that easy? "Yes, exactly."
He sighed. "Let me get this straight. You killed people in the war, but only in self-defense. And this fact somehow manages to escape you until later, and then fills you with such remorse that you decide to kill yourself. Is that what you're trying to tell me?"
Yes, I thought as a wave of relieve washed over me, that's it. I couldn't have said it better myself. "Yes, that's it. Kind of."
Why had I said that? Did I want him to find me out? To my horror I realised that, yes, maybe I did.
Confused? Go back to the beginning to find out what it's all about.
Lessons learned about writing. New article added on February 28th, 2004.
After the war (102)
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