Prologue - Perugia, Italy in the spring of 2015
The photograph stared down at him from its spot on the wall.
After all these years, the pent-up feeling of having to live his life with a secret he couldn’t share was released. With a long strenuous exhale he could finally take that deep breath of fresh air again.
He looked at it with tired eyes - eyes that had seen so much pain, so much hope vanish too many times. The feeling of tasting the end, almost making it and being so close as if he could smell the victory even before crossing the finish line.
Too many years had passed, living his life chained to a lie; a lie necessitating fits of action and forced inaction.
Many times he had felt shame, regret and suspicion of betrayal. It had troubled him to the point of wanting to end it all; but when it came to a moment of clarity, there was too much at stake. Too many people depended on him sticking to the plan - the plan only he could see through, as if everyone else’s success fell on his willingness and strength to carry on.
What if? The question he never could answer. The road he had traveled on was unpaved and one that never could, for security reasons, be paved. The only thing he could do was to travel along, keep going without looking back; without taking those exit ramps that had presented themselves to him over the years. It was painful every time he saw an exit sign, knowing very well he never could divert from the path. Now, at last, Leonardo's comingled tormented soul had finally reached the end of the road with tears and a smile.
He reached up, grabbed the photograph, and took a last look at it before crumpling it in his right hand; the same hand that had squeezed the trigger on a Lupara short barrel shotgun, so many years before.
He looked down at his fist, still firmly squeezed in a desperate attempt to free himself. Wanting to squeeze the life and lies the photograph emitted.
He was overwhelmingly tired. He placed his head on the soft pillow, closed his eyes and realized after having kept it all inside, behind a wall of silence, that, finally, he had told his side of the story and freed himself from the heavy burden he had carried around all these years.
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