Title: Paper Wings
Summary: When his young mother died in a car accident, fourteen-year-old Finn Birdinard is sent away to live with his famous and wealthy father, whom he never met. Little does he know that behind the fame and the public charm, lives a monster, and through his father's revenge, he will have to relive his mother's horrific past. Only in the friendship of his newly acquainted half-sister, Miriam, can he find solace in their endless dreams of escape from the living nightmares of Cromwell mansion.
For as long as I could remember, I was told I was named after my father, that I looked exactly like him, that I was just like him, yet I wasn't told anything about him. From that all I knew of him was that his name was Finnegan, he had light golden brown hair and dark green eyes that non-observers mistake from brown when they only glance at them, and he was a sweet, smart, and rambunctious boy. That is, if he was me, as I was constantly told by my mother. But then again if I was actually like my father, I wouldn't be alive today tell my story. To tell of my years in the mad wonderland that was within the gates of Cromwell Hall.
I had always considered California my sanctuary. It was where my mother raised me. She was a young single mother, alone with nobody but me. Even though she was Jewish, she managed for us to be taken in by a Catholic boarding school for girls where the nuns gave her a job as a maid and tutor. It was pretty nice to the adorable little boy in the mists of school girls. In the ten years there, I had a happy start to a childhood. They were good to my mother and she was happy there for it gave her a sense of being at school learning, something she couldn't afford, even before she had me. School was a dream that never came true for her, a dream she wanted for me.
As soon as I turned ten, they couldn't have her there anymore because of me. And my mother agreed, wanting me to have some male influence and knowing I couldn't really get there. It was also the time she had started dating and looking for a father figure for me to have.
"What was my father like?" I asked my mother as she was driving.
"Your father was a great man, that's why I named you after him, I told you this."
"How did he die?" I dared to ask knowing it would bring her pain from the past.
"I don't want to discuss this Finn."
She was on the verge of tears and I knew I should stop, but I couldn't, I needed to know, "Why not? I should know about my father."
"Please just leave it alone for now, I'll tell you when the time is right," She pleaded as a tear rolled down her cheek.
The time was right. I was old enough to know. I stopped and looked out the car window at the trees passing by. I was fourteen then a few days away from fifteen when my life forever changed for the worst, forcing me into living my mother's horrific past. I had no idea of what was to come as we drove on home returning from my baseball game.
My mother hated talking of the past before me so I rarely asked her because I didn't want to put her in pain again. But that didn't mean I didn't ever wonder, I always did. I wondered what life would be like if he was alive and with us. Would he be one of those dads who would cheers for me during my sports games? Or would he be that dad who worked non-stop? Would he be proud of me? Am I the son he wanted? I never dared to share these questions with my mother.
The other reason why I never mention my father is because I was afraid it might hurt her feelings and make her think that she wasn't a good enough mother. She was, she was more than that. There was never a time in my childhood where I hated my mother. I couldn't hate her, no matter what she did. I didn't even hate her when she made me work after school in the General store for a month after I stole a radio with Josh. I didn't need a father with her as a mother and I wanted her to know that. And I didn't want her to never once think that I needed more enough to try to find a "father figure" by dating a bunch of losers like she did last time I asked about him. I also didn't want to go through that again and have another Chuck making my life at home hell.
We were poor, but not starving poor, we had enough to get by and live in our tiny apartment. My mother worked two jobs: she was a secretary at an insurance agency during my school hours and a waitress at a local diner during the hours I'm sleeping. It was tiring for her but at least we had our precious five hours together in between her shifts. She wouldn't let me work and help her out, she wanted me to go to school and study after, nothing else except for sports if my grades were good.
Sports were also hard though, for they required money, money that we didn't have. Thankfully my friend Josh lent me money no matter how many times I'd reject. My friend Josh's family had a lot of money from his father being a surgeon. He didn't have to worry about whether or not he was able to afford that field trip to the city, or whether or not Mr. Dorman is going to continue sponsoring you education if you get a 'C' causing you to leave your private elite school that made your mother proud. So what if his father put him second to his career, at least he had a father with the income my mother could never make no matter how many jobs she took, Josh has it easy. I wouldn't trade it over my mom, but I had wanted that life nonetheless. I didn't want to have to worry about money constantly.
Josh and I were getting ready in the locker room for baseball practice, when he reminded me yet again about my grade in math, "Have you told your mother yet?"
I haven't, I couldn't get myself to lets her hopes down, "No," I answered looking for some way to change the subject.
"What about Mr. Dorman? You want to tell him before your report card is mailed to him."
Mr. Dorman was the richest man in the town who lived in the old three-story Victorian house in the rich suburban area, my mother used to clean his house and that's how he became my sponsor, by the friendship the two formed. My mother had to quit though when she found out Mr. Dorman wanted to be more than her friend, as I believed. Part of me did want her to marry him, despite his age, so we could live in that big house and have money, but I didn't want my mother to be miserable being a wife to him.
"No, I might tell him today after practice."
"You want me to come with you?" he asked in both concern and pity.
"No it's all right, I can face the old bastard by myself."
"Well then on a lighter note, guess what I did last Saturday night?" He smiled wickedly.
I didn't want to know, I hated hearing about his escapades with girls, "What?" I asked anyways, hoping it will make me temporarily forget my dread.
"You know that Amy girl, that junior girl I was with the weekend before?" He whispered.
I didn't like where this was going, "Yeah."
"We did it."
Maybe he meant it as something else, I was praying he wouldn't have with that sweet girl who was too good for him. "Did what?"
"Did what? You're such a kid Finney boy, we had sex that's what," he boasted, now he, I sometimes hated. He could extremely selfish and insensitive.
"You just met her." I couldn't believe it, how could he, how could she? With him?
"Yeah but I wanted it and she wanted it too, and you wanna know what?"
NO! "What?" I knew where this was going and I wanted to cover my ears, but I didn't want to look like an immature little kid in front of him.
With no male influence comes the need to always prove myself a man, no matter how stupid, heartless, or dangerous. I cared so much what Josh thought about me, and trying anything to impress him, even if it meant getting a bad math grade, because Heaven forbid if Josh were to think of me as a wuss.
"I popped my first cheery, and man, did she bleed! I mean usually with the others they were experienced and--"
He rambled on and I tried blocking it out. Why Amy? Amy was a girl Josh and I met when we skipped math a couple weeks ago and visited the public school. Of course Josh didn't have any interest in her till I told him I liked her, and he was a year older, taller and buffer than me, enough to be of interest to a junior girl. She was very pretty too, with long dark copper hair, tan skin, almond eyes, and the most beautiful smile that lit up a room. I hated Josh.
Practice went by quickly with me anticipating going over to Mr. Dorman's house. I walked there by myself as slow as I could but eventually I was there at his door. I reluctantly rang the doorbell and waited nervously hands shoved in pockets to keep me from biting my nails.
The maid opened the door, "Is Mr. Dorman in?" I said.
"Why yes, you must be Finn, come in, he's in his study." She opened the door wider guiding me in and closing the door behind me as I stepped in. "Right this way." I followed her to his study.
There he sat, Mr. Dorman, skinny as a skeleton and pale as one with his dyed brown hair sleeked back, sitting and stroking his greasy mustache looking like a weasel. He scammed me down and had a smile on his face that gave me chills, "Finn, it's been awhile, how's your mother?"
"She's fine," I answer looking down at the detail of the Persian rug.
"Sit down" I sat and looked out the window, "Why are you here then?" he kept his eyes on me and smiling as if he was drunk.
I breathed, "That, well, you see I know we have a deal that you'll pay as long as I have a grade point average of over a 3.5—"
"You don't have a 3.5, don't you?" he interrupted.
"No, I have one 'C' but I promise you, I will get it up as soon as I can, I promise I will, I know I will—" I babbled on trying to convince him not to cut his payments off over one 'C'.
I stopped once I realized he wasn't paying attention yet was starring at me oddly, making me uncomfortable, finally he said something, "Your clothes, they're very worn, is that your school uniform?"
I didn't understand why all of the sudden he was asking me about my clothes, "Yes they are."
"Your sweater has a hole in it and your shirt has lost its color, what was it once, blue? You desperately need new clothes, so how about I'll buy you a whole new wardrobe and you can come over tomorrow after school to try them on, sound good?"
"Can't I just tell you my size and I can just pick it up?" I suggested instead wondering why he wanted me over and ignoring me having a 'C'.
"It's so much better to try clothes on before you keep them."
"Then I'll try them on at home and give back the ones that do not fit."
"Why do that when you can try them on here and save yourself the trouble?"
I backed up little way away from him getting freaked out by his determination to have me over to try on clothes. "What about my 'C'?" I reminded him.
"Are you coming over tomorrow?"
"No, I don't want new clothes and I don't want to try them on at your house!" I said growing agitated.
"You're such a nice looking boy, very handsome, did your mother ever tell you that?" He pointed ignoring my refusal.
"I don't know."
"I was trying to make this subtle, but since you are too stubborn to accept new clothes as a reward, I'll be blunt with you."
All this time he continued to stare at me in an odd way that was really disturbing, "What are you talking about?" I knew. I just didn't know then what to do.
"You love your mother, don't you?"
"What does that have to do with anything?" I spat.
"This school you go to, it means a lot to her, and you go because you'll do anything to make her happy and proud of you?"
"Yes, all right, this school means so much and please just don't sponsoring me because of one mark, and—"
"You'll do anything to stay in the school?" he rephrased.
My heart was beating, deeply afraid, "Yes, I guess, I really need to stay."
"I'll continue my payments despite the grades on one condition, one favor, I mean."
"What is that?" I prayed it was just a favor like mowing the lawn or raking leaves, something like that.
"Do everything and anything I tell you for an hour."
"Anything, like what?" I asked innocently my heart beating faster in fear.
He answered me by putting one hand on my thigh causing me to immediately jump out of my chair.
"No!" I shouted getting up.
"Just one hour, it won't hurt I promise you, you may even enjoy it and beg for more—"
I covered my ears blocking out the sickening image, "No!" I shouted again as he reached for me, "Get away!" I pulled away and rushed for the door.
As I opened the door his voice stopped me. "You walk out that door and I'll cut off all payments! I may even cause your mom to lose both of her jobs! I'll force her to try her hardest to pay me back for your schooling! I'm the most powerful man here, I can do anything, and you don't want to cross me. It's just one hour, one hour and you can continue to go to school with no stress, I'll pay for your sports too, I'd even make it so that your mom could have a better paying job, one job, that'll give her more time to spend with you. All for just one hour, a painless hour that'll be easy to forget."
He knew how to trap me. And I couldn't, even for the sake of my mother. I couldn't go through with it. I'd never forget it; it would have forever haunted me and traumatize me for life. Sometimes you have to be selfish. I walked out that door slamming it on all my mother's hopes from going to that school.
I know knew why my mom refused to marry him, refused the idea of us living in his house. Why she had told me to come to her first with grade problems.
I walked home solemnly wondering how I was going to tell my mother that not only was I making a 'C', but also that I caused Mr. Dorman to stop sponsoring me. Not only was I sickened by Mr. Dorman's advances, I was horrified at what he was going to do to get back at me refusing him.
I reached our apartment I froze to see a police car parked in front of out door, I approached the police officer leaning on the car, "You must be Finn," he said to me.
"I need to talk to you, may I come in with you."
"About what?" I said thinking that Mr. Dorman must have called them about me or something.
"May we discuss this inside?"
I didn't like the way he said that. I suddenly saw my mother's scarf clutched in his hand. I felt numb, "Where's my mother? Tell me!"
"I hate to tell you this but this afternoon there was an accident on--" I was growing dizzy as he continued. Then he said the words I never wanted to hear, "Your mother passed away in the ambulance."
I was in shock, not wanting to believe one word, "Where is she? I don't believe you! She's not dead! She can't be! She's not!"
"Calm down, son."
"You're lying! She's not dead! Where is she!" I said in between choked sobs and pants. I was hyperventilating and collapsed suddenly.