Hi guys! :D

I'm deeply guilty for not working on the fics... My motivation has left me these past few months, and I got motivated to work on the Diabolical Box storybook and Bonds Through Horizons art instead. And now school's almost starting here in the Philippines... hrrrm T_T

Anyway, this fic's been up on my Tumblr for almost a month now (this was supposed to be for Mother's Day), but I was lazy to put it up on here. The reason why is that this fic is meant to be read... with pictures. Yep, you read that right! Thanks to my best friend, who made a spectacular design for Katia's mother for me, I drew illustrations for this. It turned out to be a visual novel in a way, haha.

You can check out the link in my profile. Still, this can be read stand-alone, without those pictures. There are *major* references to her appearance though, so I recommend you should take a look first... And oh, if you wonder, the main character is the one in the fic's cover. :)

Enjoy!


- A Matter of Choices -

~ o ~ o ~

"She had a choice to stay.
But why didn't she do it?
If she chose to stay,
then I would have had a father by my side..."


There's no one else in the world like my loving mother. Ever since I was a little girl, she took care of me with so much love and affection.

When I felt down, she'd do anything to make me happy again. When I did something wrong, she scolds me, but my mother forgave me no matter what I did, and made me feel better afterward.

She's really kind to me, and to everyone else. Every morning, when Mother and I went out for walks, there was always someone to greet her with "Good morning, miss Sophia," or just a friendly "hello". All the time, she greeted back with a smile!

Mother's an important figure in our village of Dropstone, since she founded this place several years ago. With her reputation in town, I'm sure she made a big difference, with the people treating her with such high regard… or maybe because she's been very nice and warm to everyone. Even both, I bet!

I didn't care if I lost everything else; just not her. She's the only one I need in my whole life.

…I wish I could say that, but there's a void in my heart that I just can't seem to fill. Not even Mother can cover that gap for me. To tell you the truth, I grew up without a father. I used to ask Mother about what kind of person he is, and she would tell me a lot of stories about him.

"You know, my dear Cynthia, your father is a really great man. He's the sweetest gentleman I've ever met in my whole life.

You remind me so much of him…"

I also asked Mother where Father's whereabouts could be. She assured me that he's still alive, ruling over his town like a king. My father was like a king? That's amazing! Then, Mother's like his queen, and I'm like his princess!

She told me so many good things about Father, and even some of her most memorable times with him. I'd eagerly listen whenever Mother talked about him, and it always made me happy.

…But, everything changed when a certain question popped into my mind.

I wasn't a girl anymore. I was already a young lady, who had a mind of her own. I still enjoyed Mother's stories about my father, and by that time, I felt like I knew him so much just by hearing about him. However, this void in my heart didn't seem to disappear all these years; it even grew bigger and worse…

Finally, I realized how to fill that hole in my heart. I now know why hearing about Father didn't make me feel any better. Just learning about this "great man" wasn't enough for me. Just knowing he's still alive didn't satisfy me at all.

I badly wanted to meet him.

I remember asking Mother about how Father was doing when I was little. Now, I decided to ask her the same thing again, and so she told me that he's fine and well, much like what she assured back then. As a little girl, I would be satisfied with this, but my mind had matured all these years, so I yearned for more answers.

"If you say so, Mother, how did you know? Do you have any way for communicating with him?"

"Unfortunately not, my dear, but I have faith that your father's all right. He's strong, after all," Mother said, with her usual warm smile on her face.

I questioned her some more. "Ah, I see. But, if he's staying in town to rule over it, why aren't we there with him instead? Why aren't we staying within his reach?"

Clearly, Mother was struck with my questions. I guess she didn't expect me to ask her that far. She still has her smile, but I know she's getting bothered… She's hiding something.

She answered me back with all honesty, though her cheerful aura faded and changed into a serious one upon explaining. "There was a deadly curse in town, and it caused great harm to the people in town, so I had to flee to somewhere safe. He was the duke of Folsense, so he can't leave…"

I got enraged. There's no denying that there's something wrong here. So she'll leave Father like that? Just because of some curse? Why didn't she just stay with him?

I had to ask even more questions. She felt uneasy while I questioned her statements. She couldn't even look straight into my eyes, which said a lot about her. Mother didn't want to talk about this anymore, but I insisted.

"Cynthia… I love your father so much. But I can't just stay there… it's too dangerous. And, I…" She can't seem to continue her sentence, so I cut her off.

"But, if you really loved him, why did you have to leave him there? I know he has no choice but to stay, but we should have been there by his side! He needs us! And then you just decided to flee Folsense to save yourself? That's just selfish! You hear that? You're so selfish, Mother!"

The kind image I had of my mother was gone in an instant… Instead, I only thought of her now as a selfish woman who only wanted to save herself. If ever someone dear to her was in danger, she would prefer saving herself than being with the other, together facing the problem. So that's her dark secret, I see…

And so, this marked the start of my rebellion.

I went cold with her. When she talked to me, I just gave her mad stares every time, and shoved her away. If I ever needed to tell her something, I would either shout it or say it in an enraged tone. She tried hard to be nice to me, but I knew it was just for show. Ugh, seeing her made my blood boil…

This went on and on for about three years. Over time, my rebellion got worse and worse, until I decided to leave home. It was hard, but I managed with the help of a friend. I then stayed in his household for some period of time. From inside, I observed Mother looking around, desperately asking the townsfolk where I could be. Heh, serves her right. She got to my friend's house, and when he was asked, he denied knowing where I was.

To be honest, I felt kind of bad when I saw her so hopeless trying to find me, but that's her reward for being so selfish. I couldn't hear what she and other people were talking about, but it seemed that they're angry after Mother approached them. She seemed like she wanted to fight back, but couldn't, maybe to protect her reputation. I think the others realized at last how terrible she was inside, huh?

That one night, while my friend and I sat on a bench outside to feel the cold wind, a random stranger came near us. He was a short man, but his glare was enough to give me shivers. He was staring at me! I was terrified, but I did my best to toughen up. He then brought up a question for me to answer.

"Hey. Cynthia, is it? Go home already. Your mother's worried to death for you." Who's he to talk like that? He's not even a local here. Perhaps he heard of this from that self-centered woman…

"Why should I? She's selfish anyway. And I wanted to see my father, not her. I'd rather go to him than my selfish coward of a mother…"

"Huh, I know a lot about your father, kid, and he's amazing. But your mother… 'selfish'? What nonsense! She's nothing like that at all!"

Wow. This stranger seemed to know about my family. But, I digress. I told him everything, but he wasn't convinced. He said I only heard part of the whole story…

"…You called her selfish because she left your father all alone just to save her own life, you say? Heh, you poor, clueless thing. She did it for a reason. You thought she wanted that? You don't know that she was forced to choose between two options. Two painful ones, I should say."

Still with hate in my heart, I couldn't help but look away, but my friend insisted that I listen. The stranger then continued on talking.

"Listen to this, young lady. I'll tell you the truth, no matter how it hurts. Don't look away; face it like you mean it!

Her first option was to stay and be with your father. Originally, this was what she wanted, but this talk of curses came, and it was deadly. But, even if she wanted to be with him, she still chose the second option: to flee Folsense and stay somewhere safe."

Is that so? That still didn't prove she's not a selfish person at all…

"…Now, here's the catch. Did you know that she didn't decide for herself? If she did, then she would've gone with choice number one.

But nope, she was trying to save someone else.

and that someone is you, Cynthia."

He gave me that look again. He really wanted me to heed his words… and it worked.

"Speechless, are you? She didn't choose the first option because she didn't want you to get in danger; you were still growing in Sophia's womb that time. She kept this a secret from your father so he doesn't have to suffer worrying about your sake while taking on his role as duke. As painful as it is for her to leave Anton, she chose to save you. Both choices would hurt her, anyway. To think of it, you wouldn't be here now if she stayed. Think about it."

The stranger fixed his hat and held his cane. He left me some few words before he went away. "Do me a favor, kid. Tell Sophia you're sorry, and how much you really love her. She's just waiting for you at home. Well then, so long."

He was already far, but I overheard him talking to himself. "You call that selfish, huh? I did worse in the past…"

I… didn't know what to say. I can't even move my mouth to speak that time. I couldn't do anything but to cry…

So it's all because of me?

Now I understand. Mother loved Father so much, but she did the same for me. Either way, she would get hurt by her choice, but she still chose to carry the burden of keeping all these things to herself.

…What have I done?

My good friend encouraged me to return home, and so I rushed back to our doorstep, with a heavy feeling in my chest… I knocked on the door, and it took a while before Mother responded. It's faint, but I was sure I heard her sobbing inside. Hearing this just crushed my heart, full of guilt… Maybe she's been like this every night when I was away.

Mother then opened the door, surprised to see me behind it. I kept my head low in silence; she thought I would say or do something against her again, so she took a step back. Nevertheless, she welcomed me with her smile. She tried hard to look happy and unaffected, as if she wasn't crying some moments ago. But, I believe she's still hurt from everything I did to her all this time…

I didn't hesitate to hug her. I broke down in tears uncontrollably, startling her. I constantly asked for forgiveness… for calling her selfish, for being such a rebellious daughter, for making her carry such heavy burdens… all because of me. Mother was so overwhelmed that she couldn't move in place, with tears in her eyes.

She couldn't help but give back a smile… that exact same smile that gave off warmth, the one I haven't seen in years. Mother hugged me back so tight that she didn't want to let go.

My mother didn't say anything else. She wiped the tears in my eyes away, and spoke to me with a tone full of care and grace. "Don't cry now, my dear. I was never mad at you, and I've forgiven you long ago. It pains me to see you like this…"

For everything I've done to Mother, she's just going to forgive me just like that? I've been so harsh with her, then she's just going to…

She didn't even think of herself. She only cared about how I felt all this time… Mother didn't deserve this treatment at all. To make me feel better, my mother gently stroked my back with her tender hand.

"You know, I'm very delighted to see you here again. While you were away for so long, I tried to ask around the village to find you. They were angry for what you've become, Cynthia, and so they didn't care about whatever could have happened to you. I wanted to fight back for you and protect you, because I know you're a great person inside, but I can't afford to hurt them too.

Even though hearing their violent reactions, I still went on to search for you, no matter how hurtful it was for me. But I had no luck… I was about to give up tonight when you came."

I told her about the man who told me everything, and she was thankful about it. She wiped her own tears, but they seemed to just flow endlessly.

Mother then looked at me, straight into my eyes while holding my hand. "My dear, I just want to tell you that… I'm so sorry I haven't explained this to you myself. But please always remember that I love you, and your father, so much. I had to leave him, so I only have you left as my life and joy..

He's not here right now, but every time I see you and look at you, I feel like he's just by our side. You and your father have so much in common… So please, cheer up for me, okay…?"

I kept her words to heart. I'll never do those things to her again. Mother has gone through so much grief and pain just for me and the ones dear to her. I shouldn't have judged her too soon… Nothing I'll do will compensate for the hurt I've caused her. I do know for myself that a simple, heartfelt hug and gestures of love to make her feel special are enough to make her day, the only things she need.

~ o ~ o ~

Thank you so much for everything you've done for me, Mother.
As much as I wanted to meet Father so much,
I'm just very thankful he has someone like you, and also the other way around.
Please stay kind, loving, warm, caring, graceful and amazing forever.

I still think you're the best, Mother, and no one can replace you. Never forget; I love you so much too…

- Your dear daughter,
Cynthia


Notes/Random facts:

- I think Cynthia's name was inspired by my favorite champion in Pokemon (GO GARCHOMP!), and second, it perfectly fits the theme going on with the established names of her lineage. Sophia - Cynthia - Katia. :D

- The stranger that approached Cynthia is her uncle, Mr. Beluga, AKA Fredrich Herzen; the younger brother of her father, Anton Herzen. He was referring to the time he also left Folsense (before the disaster) because of his resentment towards his father.

- Actually, this will be a major part of the storyline in "In the Eyes of the Regretful" (my fic of DB where the whole story's retold in Sophia's POV), but this is yet in another point of view, which is Cynthia's, so this is kind of a mini-fic, to think of it. Maybe this could be "In the Eyes of the Rebellious" or something? XD

- It's my first time writing in the 1st person POV, so I hope it wasn't too bad! Did the text in a day, and the drawings in another…

I hope I got the message across. Please value your mothers while you can; they might not be here anymore tomorrow, or maybe even… you, yourself. (I admit feeling guilty when I did this D:)

Please favorite and review; I appreciate everyone's feedback! That's all, and have a nice day. :)