“Mamma, why is Nonno crying? It’s his birthday, I gave him a present.”
“Oh, don’t worry, little one, he loves his present and he’s crying because he’s so happy.”
It was 60 years since he’d killed his mother at first light, first breath. Every year on this day he cried. Happy birthday.
His daughter knew the story, one of the few. She thought she knew why he cried.
But he cried because on his tenth birthday he’d killed Bella in his mother’s honour; people thought the dog had run away. From his twentieth on, he’d killed people, one every ten years. Twenty, thirty, forty, fifty. Happy, heartbreaking, birthday.
And today he was sixty. He cried for his daughter. Or his granddaughter. He cried for them but there was nothing else to do now he couldn’t leave the house any more. Today is the day. He would cut the cake first. Happy birthday.