Tuesday, May 31, 2011
From "If You go into the Woods" by David Gaughran
Jiři Beranek was the kind of boy who was always in trouble; in fact, the people of Časlav expected him to be in trouble. That’s what happens to a boy without a father, the old men would say, watching Jiři annoy a dog with a stick, or kick a broken bottle down the street, or climb a neighbor’s tree to steal some cherries. Most eight-year-old boys were forgiven such behavior, but because Jiři’s mother was raising him on her own every action of their small family was weighed, magnified, and judged.
Jiři wasn’t a bad child. He was precocious and mischievous, with a worrying sadistic streak towards animals and broken bottles, but he also had a tender side that only his mother saw. He didn’t have any real friends, not since Miroslav’s father moved his family to Kolín. It was only twenty kilometers away, but, to an eight-year-old, Miroslav might as well have moved to the Moon. So Jiři spent most of his time outside of school on his own, chasing crickets, throwing stones at owls, burning ants with a magnifying glass, and wondering why his mother cried herself to sleep every night.