Gainesborough's tale (1)
Aaron Gainesborough was alone.
He has been alone for quite a long time. Sometimes, when old memories surfaced on his mind, he wondered on how long had he been alone. He couldn't remember exactly though. It seemed a whole lifetime ago. Or rather: the time when things were different seemed a completely different life altogether.
He was sitting on his bed, a narrow bed in a narrow bedroom in quite a small flat. It was given to him by the government. He could have picked up a bigger one. He could have chosen any house he wanted to live in. Even a palace. They would have given it to him. He chose that one. It served him right. "I'm alone", he said to an astonished government officer.
It was a simple house: a small bedroom with only a bed, a small bed-table, a wardrobe in the next wall, a window overlooking the field and the forest in the back of the building; a minimal toilet; a narrow but furnished kitchenette; a living room with nothing but two chairs, a table, a recliner by the window, and shelves. Shelves full of books. The books were the only thing Gainesborough still cherished. The only thing he managed to salvage from the wreckage of is former life. The only thing he still bought these days for pleasure. His only pleasure left.
It could be wondered why he was alone. He had a daughter. A fifteen year-old girl of whom he had never known anything until three years ago, when he saved her and his estranged ex-girlfriend - his daughter's mother - from a harsh ending when the winds of war reached the town. He remembered that day: he, bursting into her house, killing at point-blank range two enemy soldiers. Coldly. One, he shot in the chest three times. The other one, staring back at him, he shot in the head. Right between the eyes. He saw them both, her partner of old and the little girl. He knew in that very moment who she was. He ignored it that fact; he took them out, and ran with them all the way, and got them into the evacuation plane. Years later, already a lieutenant, he returned. With eleven soldiers with him. Alone. They stormed the occupied city and took it by force, and gave it back to the country. He was hailed as a national hero since then - he, who didn't even belong to that country.
He was living in the outskirts of that very town. He never looked after his own daughter. He felt he didn't have the right to interfere. He didn't even know if she knew about him. Probably she didn't.
He got up and walked to the living room. On the table there was bottle of bourbon and a pack of cigarrettes. He poured some of the liquid into a glass, picked up a cigarrette and sat on the recliner, in the corner by the window. That place was the only comfortable place left for him in the world, he thought, whenever he sat there with his drink and his cigarrette. He did that every day, at the exact same time. His ritual.
His little world.