This is the result of forced inspiration. R&R please, and constructive criticism is always appreciated.
I have a very bad relationship with my father.
He never fails to abuse me every day or every night. He hits me with the metal buckle of his belt, kicks me in the chest until I couldn't breathe anymore, burns me with flaming iron, and so much more. It became so frequent, that I became numb towards the pain.
My mother is my only family member who loved me, and she couldn't do anything against him.
Sometimes, I wish that I was just an adopted child. Because knowing that, I would understand why he doesn't love me.
But here, we're related flesh and blood. I just can't see why he couldn't love me. Why he wouldn't love me. Because of him, I lost my innocence at a tender age. I loathed him for not being a good father.
I attempted suicide at the age of eight.
I stabbed myself three times with a knife. When I dropped the blood stained knife, I found myself surrounded by a pool of my own blood. Even so, I survived the ordeal. Simply because I see more of my own blood whenever my father tortured me.
My second attempt of suicide, I was twelve.
I drank poison this time. Immediately, I passed out after taking the first sip, since the poison puts me to sleep first. I survived again, because my mother immediately called the doctor upon seeing my body slumped lifelessly on the chair.
My third and last attempt of suicide was at the age of fourteen.
I drank a stronger poison this time. And this time I regretted it. Just like before, my mother called the doctor. When I gained consciousness, the first thing I saw was my mother crying on my bed side. I could only cry from the pain I'm feeling from the after affects of the poison. I was crying alongside my mother, but tears weren't streaming out of my eyes that time. It was blood.
That time, I swore not to try to kill myself again. If my father won't stop abusing me, I'll take it. If there comes the time that I need someone to turn to, I still have my mother.
Boy, I was wrong.
Twenty one days after my third attempt of suicide, mom died in an accident.
I was sad, devastated, scared. The only person who I can turn to is now gone. My father was silent for a few days, so I took this chance to run away.
I didn't take any chances running away to the nearby towns. He might find me there and then take me back only to hurt me more.
I stopped at Ritardando when I was finally tired of running away. I didn't know how far I traveled. What kept me going is the will to get away from him. The first person who welcomed me was the priest at Mandolin Church. He welcomed me with open arms, and let me into his church. We had the same religion, and he enlightened me about it. He said that we are the children of God. He loves us and will always do what is best for us, especially when we pray to him.
"Tell me Allegretto, why did you run away?" he asked.
I simply shook my head and replied
"I don't want to talk about it."
God will always do what's best for us, especially when we pray to him, huh?
I honestly doubted that idea. But even so, even though I have those kind of thoughts, I prayed for a short while everyday that my father will somehow change.
I had a hard life at Ritardando. I met orphans younger than me in the sewers.
Beat is the one I grew closest to. He told me the story of his life. He lived a happy life with his parents. His father was a hunter and his mother has a hobby of making stories. Every time his father comes home after hunting down a mark, he'll always bring Beat and his wife out in the nearby beach and simply gaze at the stars while his mother will tell him a story about it. His mother always told him to make a wish every time he sees a shooting star because angels ride those stars. If he wished hard enough for the angel to hear his prayer, his wish will come true.
One day, his father went away for a hunt and didn't come back for several days. Then news came that he was killed while hunting his mark. His body was even brought to them. Beat's mother died several months later due to an illness. Nobody wanted to keep him.
Then he met the orphans in the sewers. He was happy seeing them, because he knew that he wasn't alone, that he wasn't the only one who's feeling his kind of pain.
Now, every night he'll always go to the beach to watch the stars, just like when his parents were still alive. He still holds on to the belief that angels ride the shooting stars and he makes a wish every time he sees one. He told me that the real reason he does this is because he wanted to wish on the star his parents are riding. He can't tell which star is which, so he'll just keep on wishing.
Even though Beat is younger than me, I looked up to him for being strong. Even though both of his parents are dead, that didn't stop him from finding happiness. It is a sad memory that he'll always carry, but he didn't allow that to get the better of him. He learned to be appreciative and found happiness in even the littlest of things. He wants to capture it, and the way he could keep them permanently is to take a picture using the camera his parents gave him. That's why he loves taking pictures.
I took a new perspective in life. I tried finding my own happiness just like what Beat did. Even if that happiness will only be for a short while, I'll treasure it while I can.
After that, I had a comparatively happier life there. The priest was surprised from my sudden change in attitude.
He then asked me "Why the sudden change in attitude?"
I replied "I want to forget my past, if I keep remembering it, I can never move forward."
"It sounds like you're running away."
I smiled sadly.
"It's not like I have a choice, do I?"
He shot me a pitiful glance, nodded in understanding and didn't question me any further.
I lived in Ritardando for two years, and within those two years, I made a name for myself in the town, though not a very good one. I also met a lot of new friends, which lead to a great adventure that I'll never forget for as long as I live. After that adventure, we went back to our normal lives, but things are improving at a slow rate.
Instead of stealing, I decided to help Polka sell her floral powder. It's demand is pretty high now that mineral powder is gone. Beat takes photos and sells them to shops to make a little money. Apparently, he's making good progress, even the photographers like his photos. Now we have enough money to actually buy stuff.
I go to Tenuto daily so I could also help making the floral powder. But when I'm half way through the usual cave to Tenuto, I already saw Polka at the other end of the other end of the cave.
"Allegretto!" she called with a bright smile on her face.
I ran over towards her.
"He's here!" she called out to somebody else outside the cave. When that person stepped into the cave, I was immediately frozen. I could the blood drain from my face, my throat going dry, my eyes wide as ever. I was utterly horrified.
It was my father. Even though it was just two years, he looked like aged more than that.
We locked our eyes on each other for a short while, and I turned on my heel and ran away as fast as I could. I heard Polka shout my name, but I didn't look back.
When I'm back in Ritardando, I locked myself up in the hideout. I lay there on the dirty floor on fours, panting and catching my breath.
Why the hell is Polka with my father? And why does she look like she was helping him? Is she... trying to help him find me? If so, then why is he looking for me? And why now after two years? I got into a proper sitting position and tried thinking clearly. My father is looking for me and I have no idea why. My thoughts were cut off when I heard a knock on the hideout's entrance.
It was Polka.
"Allegretto, please let me in."
"Is he with you?"
I got up and unlocked the entrance which revealed Polka. She climbed down the ladder and then faced me.
"Why is he here?" I immediately asked.
"He's looking for you." she said taking a step closer. "He told everything about your past, and how he abused you."
"If you know how he treated me, then why are you helping him find me?"
"Because he's a changed man now, Allegretto."
"Sorry for saying this, but how could you say that he changed? You don't him before, you don't have the right to judge." I said to her, a bit too bitterly. I saw her wear a hurt expression for a while, but she immediately recoiled.
"Though that may be true, but I saw his expression when you ran. Did you know what I saw? A hurt expression."
I looked at her with eyes filled with disbelief, but I still refused to believe her.
"Heh, now how would I know that you're telling me the truth?"
"Allegretto, would I lie to you?"
That question caught me off guard, and I don't know what I should answer. I set a downcast look, and tried imagining my father with a hurt expression, something that was impossible for me.
"Think about it, Allegretto. After all those years of being abused by your father, you ran away. He didn't chase you when you left did he? But only after two years, he decided to find you. Don't you think that a change of heart is the most relevant reason?"
I couldn't reason against her now. Polka has officially won the argument.
"Do you really think so?"
"I know so."
"He's in there." said Polka. "I'll accompany you going in, but you're on your own once you talk to him."
I slowly nodded.
I followed Polka to the front steps of her house and she opened the door. "Larghetto, Allegretto's here. I'll leave both of you alone so you could talk to each other."
"Thank you, Polka. You're a very nice girl."
A wave of familiarity hit me. It wasn't because that I know that that's my father's voice on the other side of the door, it was because I felt like I heard it before. He always talks in such a cold and sullen tone. But now, all I can hear is gentleness. Hearing it felt both familiar and foreign.
Polka gestured me to come inside the house. I looked at her before looking at my feet, and took a hesitant step forward. Once I was inside, Polka closed the door, and I was still looking at my feet.
"Son, it's been a while."
This time, I slowly looked up, meeting my father's neutral gaze. He was sitting on one of the chair's of the dining table, and he's wearing a traveler's outfit. I tried maintaining our eye contact, trying not to look scared. But when he rose up from his chair, I immediately took a step backward and my back hit the door as I did.
"Allegretto, don't be scared." he said. "I won't hurt you."
I opened my mouth without thinking, but no words came out. I'm not even sure if I want to talk to him.
"I'm sure you remembered those things I did to you for the past years..." He let out a bitter laugh. "I bet that's all you remembered about me. I know you tried to commit suicide because of me, but even so, I still kept on hurting you. I didn't consider you as my son, or as a child. And for that..."
He suddenly knelt on his knees and prostrated.
The scene before me was surreal. With his head down, he kept on talking in a calm voice. I couldn't comprehend what he was saying since I still couldn't believe my eyes. But I did catch one sentence.
"... I won't expect you to forgive me..."
I suddenly remembered those times when he hits me with the metal buckle of his belt, kicks me in the chest until I couldn't breathe anymore, burns me with flaming iron, and so much more. The memories that I tried so hard to forget, they came flashing before my eyes.
"You're damn right I won't!" I shouted. He looked up with a neutral expression, as if expecting my reaction, and I glared at him with angry eyes.
"You abused me! I tried to kill myself because of you! And mom... she... She couldn't lift a finger against you! But she saved me when I tried killing myself! I was so scared when she died... I was scared that next time, no one will save me when I try something stupid... And you... You didn't even cry at her funeral! You never cared for her at all!"
He looked hurt by my outburst.
"You didn't even try reassuring me! Or at least lie that everything will be okay! Why?"
Tears started to blur my vision.
"Why weren't you there when I needed a father?"
I buried my face in my hands, trying to sob as quietly as possible. I felt my father's arms wrap around me, not knowing when he got up. I didn't try pushing away. Despite the how I remembered him, the hug didn't feel awkward at all. It was comforting... and familiar.
"Then give me a chance." he whispered.
Without really thinking it through, I nodded. He hugged me tighter. With our bodies so close, I noticed how much I've grown. Two years ago, I was just below his neck, now I'm at least half a head shorter than him. I almost couldn't believe how short I was back then. I tried looking up to him, but he pressed my head against his shoulder. Then I felt something warm and wet dripping on my shoulder.
He was crying.
The previous days passed by like a breeze. I said good bye to my friends in Ritardando since I'm going back to my actual home town. On our way there, I realized how far it actually was from the city. It was a good thing my father brought a horse, and I had to ride behind him. During the whole trip, I could feel his tenseness, probably due to anxiety, and because of that he didn't talk. I didn't really mind the silence, and I also didn't want us to end up having an awkward conversation, so I didn't talk either. And in the end, I kinda felt guilty for it. It took us six hours to travel on horseback to arrive at our destination, we arrived when the sun has set.
I only have a vague memory of the town, and when we arrived I could only feel a subtle sense of ease. It's like meeting an old acquaintance from a very long time ago. But still, it's my home, where my family lived... where mom died...
The first few days with my dad were incredibly awkward. We barely talked, and only uttered two or three sentences to each other the whole day. And that mostly happens during dinner. He has his job during the day, and comes back before the sun sets.
After a few more days, we gradually grew more comfortable with each other. Our conversations became more frequent and lasted longer.
One day, I tried cooking breakfast for us both. He tasted it first, he coughed, but he ate it anyway. When he left for work, I tried tasting it myself, and I almost threw up.
A month later, it was my birthday. When I woke up that morning, I saw him putting icing on the cake. He skipped work and spent all morning trying to bake a cake. We had that for breakfast, and it was actually pretty delicious.
Later at night, after eating dinner and washing the dishes, I saw him sitting on the couch, looking at something in his lap. It was a photo album, and he immediately closed it when he noticed me. He gestured me to sit down beside him, and when I did, he pulled me close to him. He whispered to me...
"Happy birthday, Allegretto."
I looked up to him, and saw his peaceful expression. I can't help but smile in return.
"I'm... sorry about what I said, when you came to pick me up."
"It's okay." He let me go. "After what I did to you, you're bound to have those thoughts. The one who's supposed to be sorry here is me. I'm sorry I hurt you, I'm sorry I never gave you a chance to be a child, I'm sorry I wasn't there when you needed me, I'm sorry I never showed you I love you..."
"But don't worry about me. I'm happy you gave me a chance. I'm glad you're here with me now, as my son. If only... she was here."
I remembered what I said to him a month ago.
"...You never cared for her at all!"
I recalled the hurt expression he wore at that moment. I guess he really did care for mom.
Dad suddenly stood up from the couch. He was sweating, breathing heavily. He turned to me, looking panicked.
He fell on the floor.
I rushed to his side, and carried him to the couch. Fortunately, he was still breathing. I leaned my ear over his chest, and his heart is pounding fast, too fast. I panicked. He didn't look good. I ran outside and screamed for help. A few of our neighbors brought me to the nearby clinic, which was still open. When the doctor saw me, he looked surprised.
"Are you Larghetto's son?"
He immediately took his bag and stood up.
"Take me to him."
We practically ran back to the house. The doctor was already by the couch when I arrived. He was wearing a nervous expression when he was checking on dad's vital signs. The doctor told me to help him carry dad into his bed room. When dad was already lying on the bed, I followed the doctor's instruction to step out of the room for a while.
I sat on the couch, waiting, looking at the closed door of my father's bed room. Minutes passed by, and I was restless.
What's wrong with dad? Is he sick? Is it serious? Is it terminal, just like Polka's? Did he have it while I was gone, or long before that? Is there a cure? How long does he have left?
Every thought scared me to death, made my heart pound wildly against my ribcage. I looked at the clock, three and a half hours has passed already.
"... All is well. All is well. All is well..."
I repeated this phrase in my head like a mantra, but it wasn't working, I can't calm down. What if all is not well? What if this will end badly?
Dad's bedroom door opened. When I looked up, I saw the doctor, looking at me. I looked back at him with pleading eyes, pleading him to give me a positive answer.
He sadly shook his head.
"He's waiting for you."
I immediately pushed passed him. On the bed, I saw dad lying on the bed. His eyes are half open and they're looking at me. I kneel by the bed side. I was about to take his hand, but he took mine first. His hands were weak and gaunt, I couldn't help but hold it tighter.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier..."
"Listen, Allegretto... There's something I should tell you, something you should know, so please... Listen closely."
I scooted closer to him, still clutching his hand.
"Twenty years ago, your mother and I were very much in love. She was incredibly beautiful, she looked like her father, and he was also a beautiful man. But unfortunately, he was strongly opposed to our marriage. She and I tried convincing him, but he wouldn't budge. Her mother was already okay with the marriage, along with her other family members, except for him. It vexed us. At one point, your mother asked why he wouldn't agree with our marriage. He replied...
'Why? Because I don't like him, that's why.'
"That hurt me. I couldn't even remember one thing I did to make him dislike me. This continued for two years. Every time I go to his house for your mother's hand in marriage, he always turns me down. I started hating him.
"Eventually we decided to elope and get married in another town, and we did. We got married, got a house, and then she got pregnant with you. When you were born, you were the most precious thing I've ever seen. You looked exactly like your mother. Your blue eyes, your silver hair, your nose, your smile... But she always said you got the shape of your jaw from me... We had a happy life, we were a happy family.
"But as you grew older, I'm starting to see her father's appearance in you. I remembered the words he said when he answered why he won't agree to our marriage. I remembered the way it hurt me when he said those words. It hurt me to look at you. My rage against him bubbled up inside me once again, and when it became too great, that's when I started hurting you."
Tears welled up in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks. I merely looked at him in understanding, finally knowing why abused me.
"I'm sorry Allegretto. I'm sorry I didn't see you when I look at you. I was too blinded by anger, and I let myself be blinded. If I just... We still could have been together. I brought this to your mother, to you, to our family."
"Dad, it's okay."
"No... It's not okay."
He coughed violently for a while, he coughed out blood, even. I flinched at the sight of it at first, but I immediately reached for the towel on the nearby table and wiped the blood from his mouth.
"Allegretto, come closer."
I leaned into him and he laid his shaky hand on my forehead.
"Close your eyes..."
I did what he asked me. Then I felt warmth seep through his fingertips. Is he using magic?
An image etched itself into my mind.
"He looks like you."
"Hm... Then that's good. But look, his jaw look just like yours."
These voices... It was mom's and dad's. The scene became clearer, and I saw a silver haired woman on a bed, holding an infant with a mop of silver hair. Is that me?
"He's so small..."
That was my dad's voice. Where is he?
Then mom looked up to me.
"Oh don't worry, he'll grow bigger and stronger."
Wait a minute...
"What should we name him?"
Are these dad's memories?
"How about Allegretto?"
"Allegretto? Yes... Allegretto sounds nice."
The scene suddenly changed. I saw a plain of green fields, a lake nearby, and mom sitting under a shade of a tree with a picnic basket. And in front of me, I saw a silver haired toddler a bit shaky on his feet. I saw me.
"Come on Allegretto you can do it!"
My younger self looked up nervously and hesitantly took a small step forward. He was only a few feet away, but looks like a mile to him.
"That's it! A little bit more!"
My younger self perked up from the encouragement, and brought his other foot forward, and then the other, and then the other. He tripped on his foot when he was just a step away, but he was caught by dad's arms, and he was lifted into the air.
"Allegretto, you did it!"
I watched my father's memories, memorizing each moment of it. I saw my first Christmas, my first New Year, my first birthday, and even embarrassingly, how I was potty trained. We were so happy back then, we were an image of a perfect family. I was happy that I'm here seeing these.
"Now don't let go of my hand, Allegretto. If you get lost, you'll never see me again."
It was nice to know that I once had a family like this.
"Once upon a time, there was a little prince living alone in his own planet..."
But at the same time, I'm sad and ashamed I didn't remember these moments.
"Don't cry, Allegretto, it's okay. Lightning won't harm you when you're in daddy's arms."
These memories are proof that I had what I always wanted.
"Allegretto! I got you a new pet!"
I lost it.
"Allegretto, we're going to the beach tomorrow. I'll teach you how to swim!"
But I got it back.
"Son, let's go on a hike!"
But right now, it's slipping through my fingers.
"What do you think of my curry?"
"It's terrible, dear."
I don't want to lose it, not again.
"Give your old man a hug, Retto."
I don't want to lose another person that I love.
"I love you, son."
The image disappeared, and I opened my eyes. His left hand fell back to his side, and his right hanging limply on my hands. His eyes were closed.
Tears welled up in my eyes.
"Dad, don't leave me! Don't hurt me any more than you already had!"
His lips were moving, but he's too weak to even bring his voice out. I sat there, trying to hear what my dad is trying to say.
"I... I... l... lo... lo..."
I heard it like an almost inaudible whisper.
"I... love you... son... Sorry... I'm... leaving you... again... so soon."
His hand fell from mine.
I was almost hysterical.
I kept on calling him, as if he'll wake up if I did it long enough. But he didn't.
He was buried the day afterward. His body was buried next to my mom's grave. I was the only one at the funeral. I didn't cry this time. Now, I understood why dad didn't cry at mom's funeral.
He already shed too many tears.
Eventually, I found out that dad's sickness was from a long time ago, long before I was born. His condition improved when he became an adult, but suddenly took a turn for the worst. This happened during the time I ran away. And another thing, he retired early from his old job five months ago. His "job" while I was around was actually going to the doctor for his medicine and check up. On my birthday, he didn't go. I never felt any guiltier in my entire life.
After the funeral, I went to the house to clean it up. When I stood before my father's bedroom door, I can't help but feel the overwhelming sense of grief wash over me again. I held back the tears, and I opened the door.
I scanned the room, and it was perfectly clean, except for the bed. I approached it, and sighed.
My father's death bed.
I took of my boots and plopped myself onto it. I sniffed the pillows, and it smelled just like my dad. I remembered how he lied down here before he died, how helpless he looked. I sighed again, and buried my face into the pillow, hoping I could sleep.
Then I heard a crumpling noise. I heard it underneath the pillow. I got up and lifted the pillow and saw an envelope. It has my name written on it.
I immediately picked it up and opened it, revealing a letter. It read...
If you're reading this, I'm probably gone before a year has passed. This is not exactly a will. Since it's just you now, you can take whatever you want in this house. Sell it, keep it, do whatever you want with it.
But when you were away, I'm sure you made new friends. Did they take care of you? Or did you take care of yourself? Either way, you fared well. I know there are hard times, but you managed to get through them. Now that I'm gone, I won't be able to help you, but you're not alone. Your friends are your new family now. In a family, it doesn't matter whether you're related by blood. Just as long as you love and help each other, you can be called a family. Stay with them, I'm sure you'll be much happier with them than staying here alone in this house. You know the saying; the home is where the heart is.
Allegretto, as my one and only child, I wish you could find your own happiness, no matter what. But don't wish for an easy life, wish for the strength to overcome a difficult one. That way, you can also protect your friends when they're in trouble. And when the time comes where life is just too harsh, you will still be happy, because you're with the people you love. No matter what the odds, the sun will always shine for a brighter tomorrow.
My last gift to you was my memories when we were still happy. I hope you appreciated it.
Your father, Larghetto
P.S. – I love you.
I came back to Ritardando. It took me a day to travel back without a horse. But even so, I never stopped walking to take a break. All I had with me was my father's letter to me, and a violin that I found in his closet. In one of the memories he showed me, he was playing a violin. He was always playing it. It at least wanted one thing from my father to bring back with me. And maybe Frederic could teach me.
I arrived at Ritardando early in the morning. The early morning air was cold, and the first thing I laid my eyes upon was the sea. The sun rises from the sea, and so I went to the beach first to see the sunrise.
I sat on the sand, listening to the soft splashes of the waves, the scent of the ocean air permeating my senses. Everything was so utterly blissful in that moment. I recalled everything that happened to me in the previous month.
My time with my father was too short, it just wasn't enough. If I wasn't too scared and didn't run away two years ago, what could have happened? Is it possible that dad and I made up? But maybe because of my absence is what made dad miss me.
The sun peeked through the sea's horizon, slowly filling everything with light. I stared at it, beholding it.
"The sun will always shine for a better tomorrow."
I turned to my left.
"Retto, you're back!"
Beat came running towards me.
"I missed you!"
Beat threw his arms around me.
"Geez, Retto, you could have sent a letter once every week."
I just sat there, listening to him ramble on how much the kids in the sewers missed me, and how hard it was living without me but at least Polka was there.
Beat pulled away from me and looked me in the face.
"What's wrong? You look sad."
"W-what? Me, sad?" I rubbed my eyes with the back of my hand and felt a subtle wetness. I didn't realize there were tears in my eyes. "I'm just a little tired."
I looked at my right.
"Allegretto, you're back so soon."
Polka rushed to my side wearing a concerned expression.
"What happened? Is something wrong? How was your father?"
"Yeah, Retto, what happened to you and your dad?"
My throat suddenly tightened. Polka and Beat called my name in concern.
"I... He... He was..."
I stumbled over my words. I had in my mind what I should say, but I'm not sure if want to say it.
"Your friends are your new family now."
I remembered my father's words in his letter, and burned it into my mind.
I burst out crying in front of them as they wrapped their arms around me.
Late at night, the city of Ritardando is always a great place to take stroll. The lights were dazzling but they're the reason why you can't see stars here. I checked the beach, and as always, I saw Beat sitting on the shore, looking at the stars. I approached him and sat beside him.
"Still wishing, eh?" I said to him trying to start a conversation.
"No harm in trying, right?"
"Yeah, I suppose not."
The story that Beat's mother always told to him came to me.
I looked at the sky, it was so dark. There's no moon, and the stars are so few that you can practically count them.
"When a shooting star comes, can I wish with you?"
We sat there in silence, waiting for a shooting star. Despite the condition of the sky above us, we still waited. And for the first time since I came back I felt bliss. I looked at Beat, and saw his expression full of anticipation. I slightly chuckled.
"Whoa, Retto! Two shooting stars!"