Burying the child was the worst part. The boy was not yet dead, but we had to hide him. I buried him next to his mother. I didn’t want to kill her, really. It was an accident. She just shouldn’t have come. She was not supposed to know. Ignorance is so much better. Why didn’t she stay at home? She knew my friend didn’t want her here. This was our place and ours alone. She had everything she wished for, on one condition, she should never come here. She shouldn’t ask questions, she shouldn’t look. And she certainly shouldn’t drag the boy along. She might have blamed it on the boy. His dog went missing, they were just looking for the dog. They had no clue about the dangers of this place.
It is that time of year again, for months everything is quiet and we have nothing to fear. Than the cold sets in, it is that time that worries me. They always come with the cold. I guess it is hunger that drives them. Sometimes they come in the dark, sometimes they come at dawn, at that moment when the night is at its coldest, just before sunrise. They never come alone. It is the barking of their hounds that gets me on the edge of my nerves.
So we were on watch last night as nights are getting colder again. All of a sudden I hear the panting of a dog, it sounds real close. I hold my breath and stare into the darkness. There is definitely something there. My friend takes his aim and fires. I hear the yelping of the dog and see someone looming at the edge of the wood. I take my shot. It was only after the second shot the boy started shouting. We ran over and grabbed him. We had to shut him up. And we buried him, just for a while.
We dug up the boy later. Fortunately he was still alive. He is a beautiful boy, somewhere around nine years old. What will he remember? I hope nothing. There are just some things you should never know about your father. And what his father and I do here is one of those. We dug the boy up and wiped off the dirt. He hasn’t said anything yet. He is just staring at us.
I am looking right past him now. We should have left him where he was. We should have waited. The sun is rising at the rim behind the trees, spreading its promising yellow and gold light. The ground is almost white with frost. It was definitely a cold night. And they are coming. I see their shadows approaching in the fog, men and dogs, determined. With one hand I signal the boy to get down, down! I have no wish to bury him again. With the other hand I bring my rifle up. I cannot let the boy get caught in crossfire. It is bad enough he knows he is living at the border now, next to a graveyard.