Isaac closed his eyes and crept into the corner beside the fireplace.
Although she was relieving her anger at others, it was only a matter of time before her anger was directed at him.
Rene, who was consumed by anger, was inhuman. She vented her anger at everything in front of her.
Regardless of whether it’s her child or any other kid.
As such, it was better to curl up as if you were dead to prevent being noticed. Isaac buried his face between his knees and earnestly prayed for the quicker passage of time.
As both sound and light vanished, he confined himself in the pitch-black darkness, with his body curled up constantly.
Using even smaller hands to grab at his slender calves, he grabbed them hard. If he could compress himself into a small, tiny form, then one day he could disappear from reality.
‘How long do I have to stay like that?’
A voice could be heard faintly.
The boy called Isaac’s name again after coughing. When he looked up, the red haired boy glanced back at him and shook Isaac’s shoulder.
He doesn’t know how long he had been curled up, as there wasn’t any feeling in his entire body. When he touched the floor with trembling hands, his entire body rolled on the floor arbitrarily. The child watching him helped Isaac up.
“There’s bread left on the table, so eat that.”
“She went to work, and won’t be coming back today. I’m going out to do the laundry, so don’t go outside and stay at home.”
Isaac nodded obediently.
Rene, who regarded her second son as a tool towards success, was worried that he’ll be harmed by the Duchess’s talons, hence she forbade Isaac from going outside.
Relieved at his obedient attitude, the child patted Isaac on the shoulder again.
There was a mixture of emotions like sadness, apology, worry and pity mixed within the child’s eyes.
“……How I envy you….”
Although the child’s voice sounded melancholic, Isaac’s hair standing on its ends was caused by his envy towards Isaac that was clearly evident through his worried tone.
They were both born in the same boat, but his older brother didn’t even know who his father was, while Isaac was born with noble blood. With only that difference, one was served like a holy object and one led a slave-like life.
Isaac bowed his head and pretended that he didn’t hear it. After a small sigh and the sound of footsteps. Only after the door was closed, could Isaac peacefully close his eyes again.
To protect himself from the mire of his life, the method Isaac chose was to cut off all of his thoughts.
It wasn’t that difficult to completely empty his mind, which had nothing in the first place.
A day quickly passed when he closed his eyes leant against the wall like a machine, without having any thoughts or feelings. It was the most efficient way to endure a dark day.
It was as if he had fallen asleep. It was as if he had a dream. Of course, as he could not remember anything, he couldn’t be sure that it was a dream passing through his mind.
When the boundary had blurred, in a situation where it was unclear whether it was a dream in his dreamscape or the reality within his dreams, a sharp sound of cracking flashed through his dull head.
“He’s going to leave me and only take Isaac? That doesn’t make sense!”
At the sound of shattering glass, he opened his eyes suddenly. From the other side of the living room that’s darkened by nightfall, a piercing cry came.
“How long has it been since he whispered sweet nothings and words of love? He’s going to abandon me now? Gehern, you j*rk! How, How could he do this to me?!”
“No, Mom. Wasn’t it written in the letter that he would come and pick you up soon. He said that after persuading his wife, he would definitely come and fetch mother… He’ll definitely come to pick us up.”
“Did you actually believe that? You’re the same as that fool!”
After the shrill cry, silence descended. A terrifying sensation climbed up the back of his neck and choked Isaac.
When he forcibly straightened his curled body, a sensation of numbness spread throughout his body. Without caring about the pain, Isaac moved his trembling limbs towards the origins of the noise.
The words that Rene shouted forcibly awakened his muddled awareness from within his firm mind.
‘He’s going to take me. Gehern is…’
‘He’s taking only me, and leaving Rene and my brother behind.’
‘Why just me…?’
‘…It doesn’t feel good.’
At the same time, a loud scream tore through his thoughts.
“What a ludicrous fellow. Us? Us?! How would he dare to mention about us? Did you think someone like you could step into that house? Did you think that just because I gave birth to you, I’ll be taking you along?!”
“Ugh! I’m sorry, I’m sorry…!”
“Nothing good has happened ever since I gave birth to you. Perhaps if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have to live as a pr*stit*te…! Just because I gave birth to something like this… I gave birth to a kid whose father’s identity is unknown!”
The sound of something being knocked over, with the sound of screaming and crying. The sounds of a beating were woven in between as if to liven things up.
The sound of being beaten about left and right was soon replaced by a long scream.
Although this was a regular occurrence, today’s scream was exceptionally long. Isaac wiped his sweaty palms onto his pants and carefully pushed open the door to prevent it from making any sound.
At the end of the long hallway, the image of Rene dragging his older brother by the hair entered Isaac’s vision. His little feet kicked in the middle of the air before disappearing into a room, leaving only an empty shadow behind. As a bang sounded from the door being slammed shut, the cold sweat on his forehead slid down and landed on Isaac’s eyelashes.
Rene’s room, where you would leave with some part of you broken.
When he first entered that room, his tooth was broken, and the second time, his arm was broken.
Rene using violence wasn’t a day or two’s matter, but it was exceptionally vicious today, and to the point of entering that room.
Where else was she trying to break? There wasn’t anywhere else that could be destroyed anymore.
‘At this rate, could it be that Brother…’
‘….if he dies…’
His mouth went dry at the thought that his only protector might die. The feeling of his chin trembling was very unfamiliar.
His hand that flinched near his pants’ pocket, slowly headed toward the table. A long dull knife was placed next to the dried bread. Isaac took the knife without hesitation, and walked towards the room where the two had disappeared into.
It was still empty within his head. He relied only on his instincts to move. The reason wasn’t clear, but he knew the time had come.
He knew that he could no longer be a bystander towards his life.
“Just go and die! If you were dead then! I wouldn’t have had to raise such trash…!”
As Isaac approached the end of the hallway, the shrieks and groans grew louder. Rene’s voice has never been as irritating as it was today. His brother’s cries had never been as heart wrenching as it was today.
‘Just what will exist at the end of this kind of reality?’
‘What for, are we enduring such reality for?’
The obscure questions that had always lingered in his mind increased in size and engulfed his head. Both fear and worry left him, leaving behind the questions about life, making Isaac move.
He opened the door. Rene did not notice the creaking sound of the opening door, focused only on torturing his brother. Beyond the brutal figure, the small body that was beaten and swollen all over could be seen instantly.
The moment his frightened eyes saw Isaac, his eyes flashed with hope. When their eyes met.
…Isaac realized the answer to the question that filled his mind.
“Do you want to live?”
Even though it was spoken in a very soft voice, his brother, who had immediately understood, nodded quickly. At his answer, the veins in Isaac’s thin hand that held the knife became evident.
“I’ll save you.”
Realising that the door was opened, Rene turned toward Isaac. Isaac, who moved his body earlier than her, looked at Rene and raised his hand.
“I’ll follow through with what Mom wants.”
“Isaac! What are you doing…!”
‘Didn’t you want to die every day?’
The soft whisper was scattered without a trace at the ensuing scream.
His view wobbled before becoming clear again.
The Isaac that moved wasn’t the part of Isaac that was abused by his mother, but the part that contemplated his dreams. And the reason for his wobbling wasn’t the guilt of a child harming his mother, but the compassion and sorrow that he had for himself.
The name that was voiced with hatred disappeared into the void. The eyes that looked at Isaac lost it’s gleam, and descended into emptiness.
The only thing left in the wake of death was an eerie silence.
Isaac, who breathed roughly, held the knife tightly. The pupils of the black eyes which were dilated contained madness, and stared persistently at his mother.
It’s not over yet.
‘She might wake up again. She’s going to hit me again… For trying to kill her.’
‘I have to ensure that she’s dead. So that she can never get up.’
The hands with blood dripping down rose up again. The red-haired boy, who sat on the ground at a loss, was shocked at his movements and hung onto Isaac’s feet.
“Stop, stop! It’s over now! It’s over…”
It’s over. It’s all over.
Perhaps the words “it’s over” sank into his mind, causing tears to fall on his brother’s cheeks. Soon after, he began to wail on the floor.
“Is it over?”
Seeing how she’s not moving, is it really over?
…Now, she will never wake up again?
It was a strange feeling. It seemed carefree, yet he was ill at ease. As this unnamed feeling of pleasure passed through his body, it filled the void within him helplessly.
Isaac absentmindedly walked towards a corner of the room. He gripped the knife tightly as if it was a lifeline, and crouched down in a familiar position.
The words that followed soon after were plain without any signs of gloom.
“Gehern said that he’ll take me?”
The words escaped from his knees, penetrating through the cries of his brother. The boy, who cried while clutching his broken ankle, sniffled and nodded. Isaac continued quietly, still looking at the floor.
“Do you want to go with me, Brother?”
“That man could be someone like Rene. No, he could be even worse.”
“Even so… Do you want to go?”
Isaac raised his head and looked at his older brother. It was ironic that the blotchy and messed up face of his brother was brighter than anything Isaac had ever seen before.
“I want to go. I want to… live. I want to live properly…!”
The eyes that twinkled distorted again, and tears fell. At the sight of his crying older brother, Isaac’s face gradually started to twist too.
‘I don’t want to live.’
He had no reason to exist when he was born, and he endured day by day. Isaac was an item that secured Rene’s future when she grew old, and to his older brother, a sore point that he had a love-hate relationship with. He was an object whose place was crouching beside the fireplace, and also the illegitimate child of the man named ‘Gehern’, who would take him away someday.
That was all.
Isaac did not know about himself. There wasn’t neither a need to know, nor a need to be curious. The vessel that had nothing in it has long lost his desire to live.
But he couldn’t die because of that. Aside from the fear and suffering, for a child like Isaac, death was an uncharted territory. In a situation where he couldn’t make a choice, life was nothing more than something Isaac had to endure through.
It would be nice if he could disappear like this.
But his older brother said that he wanted to live. In Isaac’s narrow world, the only person who took care of him said that he wants to live. He wanted to go there with Isaac.
‘I don’t want to live.’
The sound of a bang could be heard from somewhere. Then the sound of footsteps followed.
The sound of the footsteps of an unfamiliar intruder could have frightened the red-haired boy, and as such he burst into tears again and covered his face.
“I want to go. I don’t want to stay here anymore…”
His brother’s piercing voice drove a wedge into his trembling heart.
It was a despairing proclamation that extended Isaac’s life.
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