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PrologueCremona, Italy - 1945

From the warmth of his small room he gazed outside to watch the snow flakes performing a bizarre dance, spinning around one another in small eddies, orchestrated by the ferocious storm. The icy wind echoed in a dismal howl and the snowflakes formed twisted shapes, which seemed to him at the same time both beautiful and monstrous. A certain tranquillity settled over him as he listened to the news on the radio. He savoured the free opinions that were at last being openly broadcast. It was alright to remember, and within his rights to shout about it. He was at last able to summons the painful memories of those tragic events he lived through from 1939 to the end of 1944 -- the day he finally exclaimed 'I am free!'.

Despite this moment of tranquillity, he was far from peace with himself, and his spirit would never be truly at peace again. Too many times during the night his thoughts and dreams were invaded by images of those he saw die. They appeared as he had seen them then, a few seconds before they were overcome by their eternal silence. Their faces had been lifeless, even before they died. An unfathomable look in their eyes had revealed their absolute terror and disbelief. It was the expression of those who knew that they were doomed to an unjust and atrocious death, and who did not want to die.

These spectres came to reproach him for still being alive, for having not shared their fate. They would crowd around him in an ever narrowing band, often so tight that he felt himself suffocating. He could hear their laboured breathing, their warm stale breath enveloping and burning his body. Still grasping him, the ominous figures stared towards him, their eyes shining with a desperate yet sinister light. He would wake in terror, his whole body convulsing in a cold shiver. Trembling, and crushed by the darkness, he would reach for the light, and find himself unable to return to sleep. His heart would have stopped pounding but an overwhelming and tormented anxiety would always remain.

He leaned his face against the window pane and watched the snowflakes shake violently in the wind, entangling themselves and forming bizarre images under the light of a distant lamp. The snow, falling unevenly, created an irregular and continually changing mantle on the ground, a tortured landscape. His troubled mind, unable to leave him in peace, superimposed shapeless, formless red stains upon the sea of whiteness. Even the cry of the wind carried the laments of those who lost their lives in the massacre at Lubaczow. He could still hear the gunshots he heard then, while sheltered behind a ridge on his rooftop. Then, too, he had been surrounded by the whiteness of the snow, his heart pounding as he heard the dull thuds of the hand grenades and the dry crackle of the machine gun fire, mowing down the lives of his innocent brothers.

Now, in another time and place, another expanse of snow, the whiteness that engulfed him assumed a bright blood red hue. The falling snowflakes disappeared into the mass of red, themselves transformed into blood. In the vast pool of red he saw corpses, tortured bodies with their eyes wide open, as if trying to follow amongst all the falling snow, the flight of their innocent souls returning to God. The dull, shapeless stains tormented him now; the memory of blood in snow - the blood of his father who died in the snow of Lubaczow, his eyes wide open and turned to God.


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