11th chapter

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Željko has been a police officer for 27 years, and in his job, he had encountered all sorts of things. There were dangerous, challenging, interesting, fun, and exciting situations; if he had to agree to do any of them, just to avoid these ones, he would do it in a blink of an eye. This girl would forever remember his face and appearance, his tone of voice, and the words he spoke to her. Most people would know exactly what was about to happen when the police would come to their door and start talking to them in the way he just had to, but no one could ever face it. Everyone would always wait for him to say it out loud, and then he was the one responsible for their whole world crumbling.

Nora could not get herself together. She expected at least some images playing in her head, but nothing was happening. Only dull pain. Tears were just running down her face out of control, but her head was completely empty. She felt as if she was consciously losing the ability to feel. Maybe that was just her brain, protecting her from outright breakdown. She could feel physical pain all over her body, nausea, and pressure in her chest. At any attempt of calming down, the officer's words would come right back, and the whole process would start again. She wanted to move but did not know where to or how. It was as if all her bodily functions just shut down in one second. She was not aware of where she was or what was happening. She was not aware of Viktor's presence, or his touch. She was not aware of herself.

- Nora, please, just tell me you can hear me. Please, tell me if I can do anything. Please...

She looked at him with the saddest eyes he had ever seen. She heard him.

- Okay, we are not going anywhere – he said, still holding her.

In the morning, Viktor began doing what he could. He informed Monika about what had happened, as well as his parents. He let them know they were going to go to Kutina for a couple of days, wishing to never have to be the bearer of such news ever again. After getting Jana ready and packing up some things they would need for those few days, he found Nora standing in front of the closet, weeping.

- You need help?

- I have nothing black. This must be a mistake, Viktor. It wasn't meant to happen this way, it doesn't make any sense.

- I know, honey.

- Don't you think this was a mistake? Please, let it be a mistake.

Viktor did not say anything. If he had ever wished for something with every fiber of his being, it was for her to be right. There was no strength left in his body to say a single word. She was suffering, falling apart, and what could he do? Nothing. There were no words that could help her, and that was exactly what he had promised her to do. To always look after her and make her feel good. And by every minute that had passed, he kept on breaking that promise.

The trip to Kutina took two and a half hours. Jana slept for the majority of that time; when awake, she looked out the window. This was her first trip to Kutina.

The change in landscape revealed that they were now in the Moslavina (A microregion in Croatia, with Kutina as its main city). The road was surrounded by forests and, although they were not yet as green as they were known to be, they were majestic. Marija and Stjepan adored this region. They enjoyed all of its customs, traditions, and nature that, according to their words, offered everything a person would need for happiness in one place. Viktor started thinking about Marija and Stjepan. It was still inconceivable to believe what had happened. He was exposed to news stories about road accidents as everybody else, but he rarely thought about how unexpected that must be for any family who would lose someone like that. You could be sorry, you could sympathize, but you could not understand. It was really absurd how your day could go on as if nothing had happened when you read in the newspaper that someone you did not know was killed in a car accident. It was unbelievable for him to imagine that for someone, today had gone on as if nothing had happened.

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