I hate men.
Anna says good men do exist. Nice, friendly men who cook and help clean up and who earn money. Men who want to have children and give gifts and plan vacations. Who wear clean clothes, don’t drink, and even look halfway decent. Where on earth are they, I ask. She says they’re out there—if not in our town then in Frankfurt. But she doesn’t know any personally, unless you count people she’s seen on TV.
That’s why I always repeat the words my mother used to say: I don’t need a man.
Of course, though she always said that, she never stuck to it.
Ever since I decided to kill Vadim, I’ve felt a lot better. I also promised Anton, my nine-year-old little brother, that I’d do it. And I think he feels better now, too. When I told him, he opened his eyes wide and asked, breathless, “How are you going to do it?”
I acted as if I had everything under control. “There’s a thousand ways I could do it,” I told him. “I could poison him, suffocate him, strangle him, stab him, push him off a balcony, run him over in a car.”
“You don’t have a car,” said my brother Anton—and he was right.
“I can’t get at him at the moment anyway,” I said. “You know he’s still in prison. He’ll be there for years.”
“Is that how long it’s going to take?” said Anton.
“Yeah,” I said, “but it’s better that way—I’ll have plenty of time to plan it out. It’s not that easy to kill somebody when you’ve never done it before, you know.”
“It’ll be easier the second time around,” said Anton like an expert.
“I just want to pull it off this one time,” I said. “I don’t want to make a hobby out of it.”
I was relieved that Anton also thought it was a good idea. Vadim is his father, after all. But the little guy hates him just as much as I do. Maybe even more. He had already been a basket case beforehand, because unlike me he was always afraid of Vadim.
These days Anton’s still in bad shape, showing no signs of improvement, and I sometimes ask myself whether all the therapy will do any good at all. He stutters, can’t concentrate in school, wets his bed, and starts to shake whenever someone raises their voice. All this despite the fact that he claims not to remember anything. I always tell him: count yourself lucky if that’s the case. I’m happy I can’t remember anything, either—even though I was there.
I can discuss one of my dreams with Anton. But not the other one. Because anytime the word “mama” is mentioned in his vicinity, he freezes and just sits there dead still like a statue—as if he’s just been kissed by the Snow Queen. My mother often read us the fairytale of the Snow Queen. She loved Hans Christian Andersen, loved that story in particular. Whenever somebody was mean, she would say they probably had a piece of the mirror in their eye or heart—she meant the mirror from the Snow Queen, the one the evil troll shattered. That’s just how she was.
To shield him, I smack anyone who says the word “mama” in front of Anton. Not adults, obviously—I just shout at them. It always works. It’s the least I can do for my little brother. Well, that and not chasing him out when he comes crying to my room at night, crawls into bed next to me, and then is so frightened when the alarm goes off in the morning that he pisses on my leg.
I sometimes worry what it will be like after I’ve fulfilled my first dream and Vadim is dead.