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Second Chance Slaughter

18

Chapter 18: Change of Heart

 

 

1992

 

“You goddamn child! How many times have I told you to stay in your room and not do anything?” Esther screamed.

 

The belt in her hand lashed out, striking young Lacuna with a sharp crack. At this time, he was known by his real name, Anthony Rossi, or simply Little Tony.

 

Tony’s small body trembled with each strike, but he remained silent. At a young age, Tony was already familiar with pain. He lived with his mother, Esther, who had separated from his alcoholic father.

 

The separation, combined with the stress of raising a child alone, had taken a severe toll on Esther’s mental health. It was a tragic development, leading to a cycle of abuse that Tony endured daily.

 

“Now, back to the closet! Until you realize your mistake, you’re not allowed to come out!” Esther’s voice was a harsh command.

 

Tony was dragged across the floor, the rough wooden boards scraping against his clothes. Esther flung open the closet door and shoved him inside, locking it with a resounding click. Through a tiny gap in the hinges, Tony could see a sliver of light from the outside world.

 

Despite the darkness and the confinement, Tony’s face showed no emotion. To him, this life had become a twisted form of normalcy.

 

The lashes and maltreatment from his mother were just another part of his existence, something to be endured rather than questioned.

 

It was painful, yes, but Tony had learned long ago that showing pain only prolonged his suffering. Any sign of weakness would result in more lashes, more confinement.

 

So he bore it all in silence, a small figure in the dark, learning to hide his pain behind a mask of indifference.

 

But it wasn’t that Tony didn’t envy the lives of others.

 

Just the other day at the park, he had seen a family that was the complete opposite of his own. He watched from afar as a father swung his daughter in the air, her laughter ringing out like music. The mother sat nearby, smiling and clapping her hands. The image of their happiness, so pure and untainted, had burned itself into Tony’s mind.

 

Tony remembered standing frozen, watching as the little girl’s mother handed her a balloon. The mother scooped her up, smothering her with kisses and hugging her tightly. At first, Tony thought the mother was punishing the child with how tight the hug seemed, but the little girl’s squeals told a different story. Different from his.

 

The confusion in Tony’s mind was overwhelming. Why wasn’t she crying? What kind of pain made someone scream like this?

 

That single encounter stayed with Tony, haunting his thoughts.

 

A few days later, he found himself returning to the park, hoping to see that same family again. He had a burning desire to understand what he had witnessed. That encounter was a mystery he yearned to unravel.

 

On one such day, he saw them again. The family had returned to their favorite spot, playing and laughing. Tony watched from a distance, his feet glued to the ground. He wanted to approach, to ask his questions, but fear and confusion kept him rooted in place.

 

As he stood there, the inevitable cliché occurred.

 

The girl missed a catch, and the ball rolled towards Tony’s feet. He picked it up, his heart pounding as the mother and child approached him.

 

“Hello, kid,” the mother greeted warmly, waving at him in a friendly gesture.

 

“Kid, when someone says hello, you should say hi back. My mom says that’s being polite,” the little girl chimed in.

 

The mother gently brushed her daughter’s hair.

 

“That would be nice, Shasha, but we shouldn’t impose,” she said kindly.

 

Tony swallowed hard, trying to find his voice. “What’s the thing you’ve been doing to your kid?” he blurted out.

 

The mother looked confused. “What do you mean?”

 

Tony struggled to explain. He glanced at the ball in his hands and decided to show her. Wrapping his arms around the ball, he hugged it tightly, mimicking what he had seen.

 

“Like this,” he said.

 

The woman before Tony seemed to understand more than he had said. Her eyes softened. She knelt down to his level and gently wrapped her arms around him. The hug wasn’t tight, but it was warm and comforting, like rain on a hot summer night or a cozy blanket on a cold winter’s evening.

 

Tony closed his eyes, savoring the unfamiliar sensation. When the woman finally let go, he found himself yearning for more, feeling as if he had just been given a taste of something he desperately needed.

 

“My mom... she has different ways to care for me,” Tony said hesitantly, unsure how to explain his situation.

 

He didn’t understand that what he experienced was maltreatment; it was just his normal.

 

The woman’s brow furrowed slightly. “Did your mom never hug you?”

 

Tony shook his head, confused. “Oh, she’s different.”

 

“I see,” the woman replied gently.

 

Tony hesitated before asking, “How do I... make her hug me without asking her to hug me?”

 

The woman thought for a moment. “Hmmm. All moms love their kids. Maybe she just has a different way of showing it. All moms have different hearts. No mom is alike.”

 

“So she needs to have a change of heart before she can hug me?” Tony asked, trying to make sense of it.

 

The woman smiled softly. “Yes, probably.”

 

If only she had realized that young Tony had a very literal way of interpreting things, she might have chosen her words more carefully. Unbeknownst to her, those words planted a seed in Tony’s mind—a seed that would grow into something darker as he sought to understand and obtain the affection he so desperately craved.

 

 

2024

 

Lacuna moved through the dimly lit basement of his house with ease. The narrow stairs creaked underfoot, and the hallways were suffocatingly tight, but he didn’t need a flashlight to guide him. He could reach his destination even with his eyes closed.

 

After a few more steps, he finally arrived at his goal. Reaching for the switch on the side of the room, he flicked it, and the space was bathed in a harsh, artificial light.

 

The room looked like a typical storage area, cluttered with old boxes and forgotten items. The only notable object was a massive portrait of Lacuna’s mother, hidden at the back behind piles of junk. The portrait, despite its prominent size, seemed to go unnoticed amidst the chaos.

 

Lacuna navigated the room with ease, moving around the clutter as if it weren’t there. He paused in front of the portrait, staring at his mother’s face for a long moment. Satisfied, he tilted the painting to reveal a hidden door.

 

The door creaked open, the hinges groaning in protest, clearly in need of lubrication.

 

He stepped inside and closed the door behind him before turning on the light. The room was meticulously organized, a stark contrast to the chaotic storage area outside.

 

Shelves lined the walls, filled with rows and rows of jars. Inside each jar was a human heart, carefully preserved. This was Lacuna’s sanctuary, his shrine, dedicated to his mother. Each heart was an offering, a desperate attempt to change her heart and gain the love and warmth he had been denied.

 

From his bag, he took out an empty jar, labeling it with the name “Donovan.”

 

A chilling yet innocent smile spread across his face as he placed the jar on the shelf.

 

“This will be the 50th jar, Mom,” he murmured “Perhaps this will be enough.”

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