It was two o'clock at night when I sat straight up in bed. My wife asked me whether there was something wrong. "No, my dear," I answered by force of habit, "I just can't sleep." Equally according to habit, I kissed her on her forehead and got out of the bed, down the stairs, into the living room. The house wasn't too big, but big enough for me, my wife and our two children. I could have said that we were happy together.
I also could stop lying.
I sat down on the easy-chair and grabbed the remote control. There was nothing on TV so I decided to play a movie.
I'm part of an in-between generation. The generation before me has done the best they could to mess everything up, and those after me found some extra things to mess up. My generation had and has an opinion on that, but is too lazy to do anything about it. The generation before me destroyed nature to construct big buildings, through which the generation after me flies planes. Mine films the disaster and sells those images to CNN for big money. I cannot do anything about it and that's what we're all thinking.
I poured myself a gin. The video tape was one of the tiny pleasures my wife allowed me, but this time it didn't arouse me. I'm afraid I've gambled away all my feelings at the funfair. Looking through the living room, I imagined ways to have some fun with the fireplace poker. I still didn't feel sleepy. It seemed like I had been sleeping for years, maybe even decades, and now I wanted to catch up all that lost time. No, I just had to catch up that time. Second glass of gin. Restless.
Suddenly a brilliant idea formed in my head. "I'm going fishing." I gathered my line, bait and hooks. That, I thought, should be able to calm me down. Fishing always calms me down, regardless of the hour of the day or night and regardless of the situation I'm in. I put on my jacket and climbed the stairs, back to the bedroom. I gently woke up my wife, said that I was going to fish and with a swift jerk I cut her neck with the fishing line. Apparently the heart keeps beating for a while, because I saw that the blood intermittently kept on flowing out of the slashed neck of my beloved one, over our white sheets and onto the floor.
Then I went to the bedroom of my four-year-old son. I decided not to wake him up, and cut his little neck with a fluent, almost surgical movement. He can't have noticed a thing.
I felt great. I was going to make hit the headlines. All the papers would state "family tragedy" on the first page and a psychological profile of the murderer in an extra edition. No, this was not another family tragedy, this was a new attraction at the funfair we call "life". This was a 3-D haunted house and it was so lifelike it could kill you.
I got out of my son's room and went to my daughter's. There, I suddenly stood still, numbed. The door was open and I saw my little girl sleeping. She had always been my favourite child, even if I wasn't allowed to say such a thing. We had been playing games for countless hours. Games we both visibly, and sometimes secretly, enjoyed. She was only six years old but had a clearer vision on life than the people who I called my friends.
"Daddy, are we going to the playground?"
Her eyes twinkled in the dark and I couldn't refuse her anything - ever. I lifted my princess out of her bed and said that mommy was ill, but the two of us would indeed go to the playground. I helped her get dressed and together we descended the stairs to leave the house. Forever.
After driving about a hundred meters, little Sarah had fallen asleep again. It was four o'clock, not a good time to drive around with a young child. We couldn't go to the nearest playground of course. In former times, you could always go there, but the park had gotten occupied by drug addicts and dealers at night. I drove by the park, possibly knocking down a homeless girl but kept on driving. Hundred kilometers, two hundred maybe. In the end, hours later we arrived at a playground in a suburb.
Sarah had been sleeping like an angel on the back seat all the time. I stroked her hair to wake her up and said that we were there. We went under the big arch which was overgrown by ivy and found ourselves in the most beautiful playground on earth. At least, for now. A girl was sleeping on a bench. She couldn't have been older than twenty. She was gorgeous, enchanting. Her black hair glistened in the faint light of the lanterns. I sat down on a bench opposite of her, and looked at her. My mind made up a world with that young woman that was no longer possible.
Meanwhile, Sarah had run to the castle, where she would grieve in the tower until her prince showed up to rescue her.
Suddenly, the girl woke up, probably because of a cold wind flow. She startled when she saw me, but I nodded at her comfortingly and gave her my jacket. We started talking. She said that she lived in one of the newly built flats on the allotment nearby. After a fierce quarrel between her father and her, she had run away from home and had hidden on this playground for a while. She kept on talking and I kept on listening. I think it lasted for more than an hour. Only then - to my surprise not a moment earlier - she asked me who I was and what I was doing here. I lied that I was the owner of a funfair attraction and that my daughter wanted to play on the playground.
Not even having finished that sentence, I got seized by the overwhelming silence that suddenly had appeared in the park. The silence just shivered down my spine. I stood up and ran to the castle. Sarah had disappeared. I couldn't see her anywhere. Suddenly the runaway girl called me. Still wearing my jacket, she was standing next to "the spider". The climbing attraction consisted of a giant pyramid-shaped wickerwork of rope around a huge pole. Sarah had been climbing all the way to the top, and there, she had missed a step. With a broken neck, my princess lay on the floor. Her rescuing prince had failed to show.
It was family day at the funfair, and I had paid much more than I'd had in mind.