As we strolled along the narrow pathway behind the church, following the outer line of the graveyard wall, I felt a genuine security oozing from the palm of my fathers left hand. Every night after visiting my grandfather we took this shortcut to our house, though it was hardly that. We took it for the sake of darkness, to be able to spot out the stars and often stretched our backs in the moist grass, fresh and wet from evening dew. He would draw out the various formations, planets and stars with his right hand, still holding mine in his. The rasp of his voice was strong and low-key with a slight stutter at the end of longer sentences.

On this particular night he had been drinking more than usual, the sour smell of his breath hung heavy in the air. After a lenghtier ramble on Orion, he wanted to show me the grave of an uncle or aunt. I instinctly knew this was a bad idea, as the church and cemetary was not lit at night. A drunk man and a child staggering through small paths, knee-high fences and marble headstones could possibly turn into savage injury and/or vandalism (the latter actually worse in smaller communities, where mouths blabber for listening ears). Being six years old though, I had no choice but to follow him and hope for the best.

The first fifty meters went surprisingly well. He stopped next to a small area of grass and told me he had to take a leak, went behind a small selection of trees and left me on the isle of green. I looked at the moon, banana shaped and blue and listened for my fathers returning footsteps. I waited. And waited. After a couple of minutes I started getting nervous and then ran to the trees, where to my surprise there was neither sign of man or pissing. I immediately started into a series of howls and wails, as if I had been bitten by a cat (I had that experience only two weeks prior) and soon after tears started forming, hanging and then slowly rolled down my fat, red, apple chins. I ran to the iron gate that, opened it and stepped into the dimly lit street. Suddenly two hands grabbed me from behind. I was too scared to even make a sound.

It was my father. He had decided to cure my fear of darkness, by leaving me alone in the graveyard. I slept with the light on for ten years to come.

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