It’s been a sunny, warm Monday in July, holiday, summer, and I have witnessed the Third Reich fall. I killed Hitler. I killed Eva Braun. I dropped bombs on the others. They fell from my hand, slipped through my fingers.
You see, exaggerating is also an art. Of course I killed no one, especially no people that have been dead for ages now. But I was reading a book about Eva Braun’s niece, and when I put it away, it felt like I had a choice. Will I let her live? Or will I let her die? I didn’t have to continue reading, I didn’t have to kill these people.
On the other hand I knew that the end is always inevitable. They would have to die anyway… So I read on. And watched it all happen. And felt a very weird kind of guilt.
You see, it kind of feels that I’m the one who does all this because I am reading on. I felt that quite clearly when I was reading Bring up the bodies, a book about Thomas Cromwell. I knew we were reaching the point were Anne Boleyn has to be executed. When I put the book down to do something else (which was hard, sometimes, though I knew what was about to happen), I suddenly felt the guilt creeping upon me.
You are killing here. But you have a choice. Will you let her live?
No… No, I want to read on.
But you will kill her. And there will be no turning back.
No. You have to choose. Choose wisely.
Needless to say, I kept reading. Because ignoring the end doesn’t make it any different. The last page was waiting for me and the scaffold was waiting for her. I could only apologize to her, inside my imagination.
Is there some kind of word to describe this? The feeling you are killing the people who die in your book? And do you feel the same way?