One afternoon, in the beginning of summer, a non-existing room with a frightening secret, where a boy with many fears got his first phobia.
Chapter One: The Cottage, Part I
The cry had sounded from across an old courtyard, which surrounded a big cottage located somewhere in a vast garden. Behind the building, three figures stood facing the wall, all of them surrounding a smaller figure on the ground. The last one was a child, sitting with his back against the stone wall, both knees bent up to the chest and legs held tightly against the upper body.
There was a loud clatter as the contents of a bag were suddenly emptied in front of the small child by one of the older boys, books, pencils and other small objects meeting the ground all at once.
“No!” The child went as if to grab the objects but was stopped immediately by the boy on his right, who took a handful of his long soft curls and yanked them back, forcing the child back against the hard wall.
“Calme-toi, gosse...!” The boy grinned, tugging once again on the fistful of hair, smile broadening when he heard a whimper escape his captive’s mouth.
“There’s nothing here,” scoffed the boy farthest from the child and the tallest of the group, limply holding the now empty backpack in his hand as his narrowed eyes swept the disarray of objects at his feet. The bag soon joined them as the boy threw it down in a violent manner. “Just a load of rubbish…!”
“Please, stop it…” whispered the small boy in a very soft but hoarse voice, the tight hold that the older kid had on his hair making it impossible for him to move his head and hide his smudge covered cheeks or the tears that peeked from the corners of his closed eyes. “I didn’t … do anything,” he breathed out, a sob escaping his lips.
“’I didn’t do anything’…” mimicked the third boy of the group, his voice high and mocking as he took a few slow steps forward, stopping next to the scattered possessions. The younger boy visibly cringed at the words but gingerly opened his eyes to look at the one who had spoken.
Meeting his gaze, the corners of the elder’s lips turned slightly upwards in an almost caring smile, but then, slowly, he lifted his foot and moved it so the hard sole of his shoe would hover above one of the objects on the ground.
It was a glass figurine, about the size of a golf ball and in the shape of what looked like a butterfly with its wings spread wide open, already marked with a few cracks from its short fall but still reflecting the beaming sunlight that came from high above.
The elder waited until he saw the child’s eyes widen and his lips part, before stomping down hard on the object with a piercing cracking sound. The figurine smashed into thin little pieces of scattered glass, most of them disappearing into the gaps between the little blocks of stone which made the courtyard floor.
The small boy let out a choked sound, but made no movement towards the broken figurine. Instead, he leaned back and closed his eyes shut, letting the tears fall freely but silently down his cheeks, arms limp by his sides.
“What makes you so sure of that? Huh?” the older boy continued, glancing down once more at the pieces of glass at his feet before turning towards the child. “What makes you so sure that you didn’t do something horribly wrong to us?”
The other two boys chuckled under their breaths as they watched their companion walk and stop right in front of the now trembling child, who, sensing the looming figure above him and felling the cool shadow that engulfed him, blocking the sun, leaned as far back as he could against the cold wall.
A few seconds passed, the silence broken only by the buzzing sounds made by the insects that roamed the surrounding garden. And then, suddenly, the child felt a calloused hand grab his chin and force it upwards, his eyes opening involuntarily to stare up into deep and hardened black eyes.
“You’re just a brat! A spoiled, snob, snot-nosed brat who thinks he’s better than everyone else!” the older boy spat in the child’s face, sinking his worn nails into the soft fat flesh in his hand, an action that earned him a pained yelp from the child.
“Oi, look at this!” a voice called from behind them.
Letting go of the kid, the boy turned around to look at the tallest of the group; the young teen had picked up one of the books on the ground and was now looking at something between its pages.
“What is it?” questioned the first, eyebrows lowered to a frown.
“You are not going to believe what’s in here!” the taller boy exclaimed, a crooked smile twisting the hard pale features as he looked back at the other two, a twinkle in his eye.
The child felt more than he heard the boy with the dark eyes moving away from him, his shadow soon following, leaving him stunned and confused as his eyes blinked rapidly in the harsh sunlight.
Moving to stand besides the other, the dark eyed boy snatched the small book away from the taller one’s hands, holding it with one hand under the smooth leather cover before taking a look inside its stained pages. The expression on his face soon mirrored the one on the boy next to him.
“Well, well… Look what we have here….”