At the dining table Benjamin’s legs were still too short to touch the ground, but his understanding was mature enough to realise he could never please his father; an unspoken accusation always hung in the air. No matter how many green vegetables he finished, straight A’s he brought home or how high he jumped, his father always treated him with the same cold detachment; regarding him as part of the furniture, his voice just a sound from the radio that was always on. At the age of five he had stopped drawing attention to himself, being ignored was actually easier than those accusing eyes under caterpillar eyebrows, leading a life of disapproval. Being incriminated in the death of two human beings is traumatic for most. For Benjamin the accusation was always there, insinuated; everything he experienced, learned or achieved was tainted, as if constantly wearing dark sunglasses while on a moonless night, by the monumental presence, weighing him down.
There was no light in the house, no music, no laughter; he had made sure of that the day they got back from the hospital, not with a family of four, but just him and this baby boy. No happiness, just an aching hole, so large and unspeakable that the only way to cope was the denial of light. That there had never been a happy woman in the house filling the rooms with her girlish laughter and multitude of questions. Perhaps that was what he missed most: her endless curiosity about things. He had needed her to show him the lighter side of things and when she passed away giving birth to the twins – taking the baby girl as a companion – all that was round and warm and pink left his world. He did see the boy; the discomfort, the attempts to reach out and please, but it was too much to bear, Benjamin’s grey green eyes a constant reminder of the light that stopped shining.