This one here is a piece that I wrote not so long time ago. The character it belongs to is Mia, who has very little part in the first book, but who is the main character in book number 3. This piece here is a bit special, it will show you a big part of Mia, and it was very emotional for me to write because much of it comes from my own experiences. This here is presented as a letter that Mia writes to her friend, the only person she trusts. It is a bit tough piece of text, and not for everybody, I guess. But it comes straight from the heart, and it sets words to something important, I think.
” I’m writing to you because I need to know that I’m not alone. I do not need you to do anything or solve anything or worry. I just need a witness to my feelings, to not to feel like I’m alone. But I’m really scared that you’ll look at it as a burden and something disgusting. that you’ll look at me differently if you just know all the nasty things about me. Because that’s what I often feel about myself. I have come a long way, but I am not at the finish line. And I know, deep down I know, that you too have a limit and will turn your back when it gets too much. So in a way, I’m ready for that. Or I’m getting ready for it as best I can. The fact that you turn your back one day may not be the worst thing that can happen … the most common thing I have experienced is that when I tell too much, it is used against me. It has done all the men in my life. So yes, there’s one thing I hope you can promise me. That even if one day you do not want to know any more about me, you would rather leave everything in the past and just forget it. That we can rather go our separate ways without need to go through hell again.
There is something I want to tell you. Maybe I’ve done it before. Or maybe I wrote it and deleted it afterward without sending it, as I have done so many times before. Sometimes I can tell something and forget that I have told. And sometimes I just tell bits. But I have never told anyone absolutely everything. I do not think I even know absolutely everything that has happened.
That was the summer I was visiting my mother. I had to be around 14. Between 12 and 14. I once made a timeline of what happened when but I cannot find it now after so many movings around … It happened at least before I ran away from home and ended up in human trafficking. My mother had traveled to another country with one of my brothers. She was going to work there. I stayed in her home. Together with one other brother of mine, and his girlfriend. It was a hot summer. I remember spending a lot of time with my friends. Four girlfriends. In the basement of the house where two of the friends lived, were some empty basement rooms that were not used by anyone. Some older boys had set up their own room there. Four older boys, a group of friends. Good guys. The bunker, as we called it, was well made and they took good care of it. We, young girls, thought it would be great if we could be with those boys, if they could, for example, invite us in! One of us was completely, completely in love with one of the boys. They were about the age of my big brother. It was a small town and everyone knew everyone. I think they went to the same school once or something. From their school days, there was another boy who knew my big brother. Alex was his name. Just like my big brother, but my big brother had the nickname Fox, and he was never called Alex among friends.
So those guys from the bunker saw that we started lurking outside the bunker. We tried to be very quiet, but every time they suddenly opened the door we all ran with lots of screaming. My God, this was fun! And in a few weeks, the guys decided to give that bunker over to us. They just came to us one day and asked if we would like to have the key to it because they were leaving and will not be back until next summer. But we should promise to take good care of it, and we did. We promised. In reality, we did not succeed, but for a good while in the beginning, we used it only for ourselves. There were sofas in there, and tables, and music. So we used to put on Russian songs, even though I was the only one in this group of friends who spoke Russian, and we dreamed away. We could lie like that for hours sometimes. It was so nice to just dream away. We dreamed of love, our own home, what family we would have, what our children would be called. Girls stuff. Later that bunker became known to others as well, and we found the boy named Alex there. He was someone who used drugs and drank a lot. One day we came to our bunker and he was there with his friends, sat inside, and partied. One of my friends went in to get them out, but he got so angry. I remember he shouted at her that if we did not peel away then he would rape her at this table there with a bottle of champagne. We were so scared that we ran at full speed in a completely dark basement. One of my friends hit the wall at full speed, because it was like a maze there, and she got a real bruise from it.
Another time, one of my friends’ sister had taken the key and gone to the bunker. She was mentally retarded to some degree. A little weird, as everyone said. She had invited underage boys to sleep with her, to teach them. They were standing in line behind the door to the bunker when we arrived, which many found to be funny. But for me, there was never anything funny in it. I think that was the day we realized we had lost that bunker.
Anyway, it was summer when we were out a lot until late at night every day. Whether we were in that bunker or just stumbling around. It was bright, and it was hot, and there was nothing at home waiting for us. None of us. One friend lived with her father, who was an alcoholic. The other two had mothers who were alcoholics. Mine was completely gone. So why not. Yes, we stole a little from the shops occasionally, but nothing serious – just candy and some food.
Then I came home one day. Or it was late at night really, as usual. I had my own room and I always went straight there when I got home. That day when I got home I did not see my brother. It was just his girlfriend and a man. I recognized that man. Peter, he said. He was from a gypsy family or something. Such a small, thin, dark. With very black big eyes. I asked Sandra, brother’s girlfriend, where my brother was and she said he had taken all the alcohol and left. She did not explain more. I did not understand at first that something was wrong. I thought they were drinking again and that was it. Well, this is where it gets a little foggy for me sometimes, but I will try to remember as best I can. I think Sandra picked me up from my room, I think she said they needed to talk to me. Because I remember I was out of my room when she started saying something about me being a really bad girl because I had been out so late every day. And that they now had responsibility for me, her, and Peter, and that they should now teach me rules and how I should behave. For my bad behavior, I was to be under house arrest and sit in my room. I remember saying something like “What in the world? What do you mean? No one is going to tell me what I should or shouldn’t do!”. And then I remember Peter getting very close to me, grabbing my clothes and pushing me so hard. I was slammed against the door behind me. He was so strong and big for me. Actually, if he would stand next to me now, he would be to armpit for me – so small he was! I could crush him in 3 seconds if I would meet him now. But then … I do not know. I froze. Or got scared. I do not remember being directly scared, but rather perhaps shocked. Furthermore, there are only fragments. I was in my room. I remember the door was locked and the windows were nailed down. Once my mother had also closed the windows this way so that I would not get out, so it might not be as unusual as it sounds. The time my mother did it was because she tried to throw me out again and I refused, so after a fight where she saw that she was no stronger than me anymore, she decided to go herself, but lock me in the apartment so that I could not get out.
I remember lying on my bed. I do not know if that was the only thing I did. There is a vague memory that I read a book, but I hated reading books at that time, so I’m not sure. I remember Sandra sat a bucket for me in the room where I could go to the toilet. That bucket did not have a cover, and I hated it. But I had no choice. It stank very strongly. But I got used to it eventually. Now … now I get nauseous just thinking about it. I remember there was a pile of clothes on the floor. I was putting dirty clothes on the floor when I changed them, so there had to be several days they kept me there. I really do not remember if we are talking about days, weeks, or months. Occasionally Sandra came with a bowl of food. Such a metal bowl as it was given to prisoners in the Soviet Union at this time. In fact, such bowls were used everywhere, in hospitals and in homes.
One night came Peter into my room together with Sandra, they were both drunk, and told me that Peter really wants me to be his girlfriend. I did not answer. But they made it look like I had said yes to it. After that, he started coming into my room to have sex whenever he wanted. I do not remember anything about that particular part, do not remember how he did it or if it hurt. I remember very clearly, however, that he was very dissatisfied that it stank so strongly there. And that I stank. I had not washed in a long time, and the bucket and dirty clothes – everything stank. No windows were open and it was hot. I remember he got really mad at me because it stank so much. He took dirty clothes from the floor and stuck them in my face and said “You are a girl and how dirty you are, look at that, I get sick of you!”. He could scream so much. And I was SO ashamed. It’s the huge sense of shame I remember the most. I was always taught that especially we, girls, had to take care of hygiene and be clean, and so this … I feel that shame today as well. I have forgotten something from that time, but the shame I never forgot. I remember the light green curtain with a dark green pattern in front of my closet that was right next to the bed. It was a small room, I remember that too.
And then I suddenly remembered that we had been out. Me, Peter and Sandra were out one day. We went for a walk. I suddenly remembered that they said something that I had to get fresh air. And then it was very important to show everyone that I and Peter were together as lovers. I remember the moment when Sandra ordered me to hold Peter’s hand. The way girlfriends do it. And I did. I do not know if it is my imagination, but I think we even met one of my friends out there because I have a vague memory that she asked where I had disappeared. It was Sandra who answered. I said nothing. I am thinking, why did I pretend that everything was fine? Even though I was out and could have escaped? It was like I was paralyzed. It must be what is said about a human being broken down. It is not about the physical, but the mental.
I also remember that one day Sandra came in and said that now they are leaving. And then they left. Just like this. They left the door to my room open. When I came out I saw that they had been through all the things in the apartment. I did not know what was happening, so I just started cleaning. And wash. I cleaned and washed non-stop until everything was as it had been before they arrived. And then the mother came home. It was when I found out she had called Sandra about her coming home, so that’s why they ran. My mother was mad at me. Very angry. Because I did not take care of the apartment and invited Peter into her home. Now many of her things were gone, she said. Neighbors had seen me with that boy. I was a whore, she said. And that was just fine with me. It was a day my brain forgot about all of it for many years to come. But I never became myself again.
Sommer after I met Peter one day in the city and he came to me for small talk as if nothing had happened. And I pretended that everything was as usual. I got nauseous, and I wanted to go, and I did everything I could to not bump into him again, but when he came and talked to me, the only thing I was able to focus on and what was most important to me was not to show that something was wrong! I do not know why but it has always been my method of survival. That time and all the times after in all kinds of situations. It’s just built into my brain to pretend that everything is ok, no matter the cost.
That’s just a fraction of what I’m sitting with. It’s the whole thing, everything that happened also after this, that I hate the most. I may be talking about one thing, but images of so much more pop into my head. So many nasty things I wish I had never seen, known, and experienced. To me, it reminds a fungal infection. The smell of fungi, traces of fungi that move through the air and infect new places. Human beings. It grows slowly, can take a form that looks like a living being but is actually deadly if you do not get rid of it in time. Have you smelled mushrooms that have come on food that has become bad? Or fungi on humans? It has a special smell. Sometimes I wake up at night and itch all over my body because it feels like I have fungus all over me. Fungi are actually found everywhere, around us and in us. It’s natural. But it does not begin to grow or strike out in us until there has been an imbalance. It’s everywhere. I’m not poor here, no. It is the disease that lurks around. Fungi is just the surface, the physical that my brain has bound with all those experiences. But the disease is really in the brain. Maybe it has made some people look like humans but really nothing of the human is left in them. That would explain a lot to me. But as strange as it is, my nightmares are linked to the smell of fungal infection. It is what represents in my nightmares the experiences that cracked me, but which so many are thinking is completely normal. Have you ever thought about how many people really think that all this is a completely normal part of life? “