Ch 125: Intermission & Act 2
Dig dig diggity dig. A short little child was digging very very hard. Furrowed in concentration, distracted from the world, he was doing a very good job of manual labor.
"Should we uh...tell him that's endless?" questioned a deep but ultimately unsure voice.
"No. Let him tire himself out." huffed out a much more tired sounding man.
From behind a grove of, not exactly, artificial trees in the underground garden space, the two men were doing typical yard work and gardening.
Oh well.....Sure, some of these plants and specimens were far from typical, deadly even. But they got some pots, land plots, and even a well controlled greenhouse. It was a yard? ....For them.
The problem with any sort of garden environment no matter how magically controlled were pests, insects, and yes, even children. Children always had a way of messing things up. Specifically small hyperactive ones, even worse if nature decided to bless them with enhanced anything, let alone strength.
They should have been used to it and in a way, they were. Already raised one of those up. Now she was up and out of the hole, with her wings and home. Even a child, and a kind of child, of her own.
But somehow, like expected, they were still fumbling with this learning curve thing.
"We can let him play in plot Beta-L?"
"And if he digs too far into zone K?"
"That's either a lot of dead mandrake roots or a very heavily crying Lukas when his small eardrums burst."
"Well, if he can survive the skull tubers and the carnivorous tuba..."
"None of those screams...as much. And no. "
It takes a particular pitch of soundwaves to break even glass, and their greenhouse was anything but ordinary weak if pretty glass. While everything was generally pretty solid and safe, it didn't mean it was entirely childproof. There were messes to clean up and bandages to apply, maybe on themselves.
"I just think we can put all the digging to good use...."
Gable gave Ron a glare at the start of the sentence as if daring him to complete his statement. It had little nothing to do with the whole 'let's train and make use of small innocent power drills of children' and more of 'God damn it Ron, we have no more play plots of land to let him go wild on and this is definitely your fault' kind of message being drilled by that glare.
"Ok ok ok fine, I just feel bad for the kiddo. He's going nowhere when he thinks it's somewhere." Ron sighed.
Gable hardly raised an eyebrow, setting out to replant the pot in his hands. Without even lifting his head from the night time garden work, his voice carried through the space. Forcibly shouting.
"Lukas! Do you want to give up and go to bed yet?!"
It wasn't a strange megaphone device like the ones Ron used around the troops. Or any magical enhancements that made him so loud and clear. No, it was all hard-much needed experiences wrangling around children.
Before he thought that was just limited to Ron, maybe yelling at him from across a battlefield. Someone who was already a difficult child and never quite grew out of it like oh say everyone else in the damn world.
Everyone grew up. Everyone had their roles and positions to play in the game of life. Everyone but god damn Ronald Ventrella. Gable felt he was going to meet his early death by overexposure from the other man over the years. The stress, the yelling ....a lot of yelling, utter property and network destruction.
But then it got quiet.
"Nooooooooooo waaaaaaaaaay!!! Heroes don't quit and so won't Iiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!" screamed back a high pitch voice, both disturbing and reassuring Gable's thoughts.
It was so pitching loud it was scaring away all the pet birds they kept to maintain the underground garden's ecosystem. But the birds could fly away and back, what's important was Lukas.
"Grand! Tell us when you give up!" Gable replied.
"Caaaaaaaaap! Tell Gable I won't!" the boy echoed back.
It was quite the opposite of too quiet now. No peace and quiet ever again, nope.
Oddly, Gable was alright with that. Much more alright than he would have expected from himself. It was ...a very quiet time then. When Ron disappeared.
So quiet that Gable couldn't take it. He wasn't as calm or capable as everyone thought. It was only by having that colossal fool under his foot, by his side, that he looked like a barely decent person in comparison. Especially back then. It was awful.
So awful that Gable was the one who took the initiative to ruin absolutely everything.
His life. His power and position. His family and wife. All his responsibilities, everything he had ever worked for and done 'right'. Just wrecked it all by his damn lonesome.
Couldn't even blame Ron for any of it, since the fuckard just wasn't there.
But no, Gable didn't have the habit of shifting blame and that's why he was so damn harsh. On others and on himself.
Destroying everything to run off into hermitdom, that was all him.
It was too quiet in all the wrong ways. Until he got away, until he ruined everything, he couldn't even breathe. Even then, deep down, under the veil of a functioning person, he had no regrets for leaving.
If there was no chaos around, it seemed he would make his own. Ironic.
"Gaaaaabe, where do you want the giant rolling moss balls?" asked chaos.
"...Ron. Those aren't even supposed to be out of freezing water?!"
"Oh well...oops. I thought they made great chairs. So squishy."
"They're an endangered sensitive species?! Native to exactly one lake! One lake Ron!"
"I put the bubble wrap cover on!"
Then like some cosmic balance, chaos and order was restored. Right when Gable made his peace in his isolation. Settled with it and every terrible decisions he had ever made, everything he had gained in peace and would never get back...all the lost noise came crashing back with resounding force.
With it came the baby.
What a shell shocked surprise that had been. An explosive chain reaction that Gable didn't know how to react too but ultimately kept him from closing his doors on the other man. Babies were absurdly small and delicate. She could so easily have suddenly died being lugged around by that, handsome, rugged fool.
All his anger and frustration towards the other man wasn't gone, far be it, but he was very distracted constantly getting heart attacks over dangerous acts of childcare.
And that was how Gable lost the next two decades of his life, his entire young adulthood really, to the moving wreck that was Ronald and his little Maria.
Wonderful. Moving on.
"Oooops!!! Cap! Gable! I broke the shovel! Sorry! Oh and my hand!"
"You did what?! Tell me you didn't."
Gable felt his temples throb, dropping the pot and running over the very safe loophole space of what Ron called, the never ending soup bowl of dirt.
Great naming senses. Never let Ron, or any of his family members, even the blasted in law, name anything. It was for the best.
This really wasn't Gable had in mind for the whole 'moving on' thing.
Somehow, against all odds, they kept one innocent child from dying in her crib and raising her all the way to adulthood.
Another one, a somehow more hyperactive one, was not supposed to appear. They were supposed to be done with this whole kids thing. One of them even became a grandfather. Get that, sit back and relax. Be done with kids. Weren't really cut out for it in the first place.
Not get another one.
"Ok! I didn't! But it really is broken and stuff because I'm over here but my hand is up over there! I'm not giving up! But this isn't my fault so it didn't count and stuff. Can we put it back on? " Lukas exclaimed, sounding as mildly put off as if his shoe and socks came undone again and he needed help tying it back on.
Something Gable is still unsure how that happens. How does anyone lose their socks so much?
Gable does not scream. But he does scold and pull Ron along because god damn it, this was partly his fault somehow he just knew it.
He does find Lukas as the bottom of the fake shallow hole, body in one place, hand and half a shovel cleanly in another. At the scattered sight, both men sigh a great breath of relief.
"Oh thank god." the only responsible parent feels himself relax entirely to Ron's bubbling laughter.
"Ahahahahah! It's just the soup bowl hourglass ends got skewed! Ahahaha! Ah, Lukas was fine he wasn't screaming in any pain, Gabe. Pootatoes is extremely vocal, like a real man! We'd know immediately if Lukipukiwuki was in any trouble he couldn't handle."
"...don't call him that. Any of that! And get down there and fix this"
"Wait!" screamed out the small child."Does that mean if I stick my head in this funny glowing hole here it will go off just like my hand?! Cool!"
"Lukas no. Don't just- .....Damn it Ron, get down there and pull him out of that thing!"
"Cool! My hand is back and I'm half a boy! Wait no two boys but half, now I'm extra strong! Oh but I don't have legs now. Hey, can I move them still like this?!"
"Well Lukypoo, because you moved, this is going to take a bit longer to pull you back to normal. Just gotta align the portal points and, Lukas legs wait no don't run off like that! Ahahaha! They're so stubby! Ahahaha!" the broad man still laughed.
"Ahhhh Gabbey, Gable, Gable - don't be mad. I can fix this. Don't-"
It took over half an hour, and a crying spanked half of Lukas, to finally puzzle piece the fidgety child back together. He was never in any danger of staying separated like a spill of body parts, but it was quite difficult getting him to stay still in just the right spot to undo the mistake.
Surprise surprise, catching the bottom half of Lukas was just as still as awful, if not more traumatizing. Or hilarious, as Ron puts it.
When he was one little boy again, he really was quite the sight.
Even a bit dusty, he was ultimately a soft and very unfairly lovable looking baby. There was a very solid reason why women coo and kiss over him. The main reason why their Maria seemed to lose her sanity to rampage on a hugging spree sometimes.
In the darkened lights imitating the night sky, Lukas's hair looked almost otherworldly white, as if he didn't already resemble enough of a snow sprite. Bright clear eyes, too large for his head and high delicate features, with somewhat resemblance to Gable's own, still immature and cushioned by rolls of soft childish fats.
It was almost as if some hidden race of magical baking tree gnomes rolled him out of the densest buttery pie dough, much like making a round little snowman, and then breathed him to jolly life by steam baking. Dusted on with snowy powdered sugar and lion berry jam for color on his apple pink cheeks, the barest of strawberry freckles sprinkled across, Lukas was in every sense, a very sweet little thing.
A very impossible chance with Gable's family history. No one in his bloodline was that softly pleasant, even as an infant. He felt himself grimace just thinking about it.
Did he burn those old portraits to ashes right? No one liked embarrassing images of their youth but his own brought a shameful soul ending cringe.
The House of Weif was not a very....relaxed one.
None of them could smile like a sunny warm spell in the middle of winter, or laugh like an earthquake cracking the ice till avalanches buried them all. They weren't as tender as freshly boiled gnocchi, a just baked peeled potato smeared with butter, the bursting fluff of a fat steaming Dampfnudel smothered in the richest gravies, creams, or sweetened dressings.
Oh by the curses of the fae, Ron's awful nickname was right.
"My rump roast feels hot enough to be cooked." sniffs the child, crystal tears drying on his stubborn little face as his soft chubby arms clung onto Gable's neck.
"That's one way of saying it." Gable does not share back how his hand stings.
Definitely not his heart. He would prefer not to have such a weak one thank you very much.
He swears he never had to punish Maria in such anywhere near as much a state. She usually stopped, heeled and sat on command pretty quickly?
Though that could just be because he left the corporal punishment to Ronald to actually parent, as he should. He's absolutely sure Ron wussed out on any spankings, it was quite hard to lay a hand, even for discipline, on a young little lady. More likely the fool of a father would have just chased her around a pack of ravenous wild chickens until she learned her lesson and called it a day.
That worked for a good four or so years until the chickens established her as Alpha, on the top of the pecking order.
The craziest father and contending worst grandfather in all the realms was right now on all portal fixing duty. They needed that never-ending soup bowl of dirt so bad. So damn bad. Please, Gable doesn't know where else to tire this dumpling of a boy out without causing mass destruction or a loss of something's life and home.
They don't know how long it will take before their chickens stop attacking and start accepting Lukas as one of their ranks, so he needs to time out the punishments and distractions well.
"Gable? Am I in trouble for breaking something? Sorry I broke the thing, but I don't know what it was I broke, but I still broke it so sorry." the boy nuzzles into the crook of his neck, still hanging on tight despite Gable's steady hold bringing him up the stairs.
"No. No you're not in trouble, wasn't your fault...but that's very good of you."
The boy nods, squishing his tender white cheek against Gable. Despite his age of about 6, he now gave off the slight scent of comforting children's milk, along with the fresh air and grass he was rolling around in.
"Amar says I should just say sorry when I think I maybe did something that makes others mad and that will fix things 9 times outta 11! Even if I didn't think I did anything, what others think are different."
"That's correct, yes," Gable nods along to the ramblings.
It was how the child expressed himself and learned about the world. As loud and seemingly never out of breath the boy got, Gable would never silence his voice.
"Rosa says I have to pay rat-a-button if I break stuff, that meant I have to pay money or stuff, and that sounds about right because that's what Phillipe said too and that I owed him and people lots of 'debby' or something. "
"....a debt is it..."
"But Amar explained that I could pay them back in big rocks instead of money or favors because rich people really love big rocks. Especially if I throw them! So we did! That was fun! But then more things broke....I can't stop because everything falls to funny bits so easy in my hands and I don't know why. The weak kids and grown ups don't do that."
"That's...good...and how do those...weak... other ones react? To you?"
"Sometimes they yell lots. Or call me stuff I don't know yet. But I know and like the word monster! It sounds strong and cool! But I gotta get better at not breaking other people's stuff because if someone breaks my stuff that makes me sad and mad. Or smad!"
"Sad and mad together makes smad. Like potatoes and molasses makes potasses! When I smash the word bacon on anything Rosa says I should call it bae with an E! Bae! Bae pizza. Bae cake. Bae that owie curry, and that sounds like hurry because I gotta hurry to poop after I eat too much."
"...wonderful insight Lukas."
Gable would like to think he's doing a wonderful job trying, key world trying, to understand all that Lukas has to offer him. Much better than your average reclusive hermit, especially at his age.
But he's very grateful for the times all the little monsters are together, and not getting lost somewhere causing mayhem. They bring a lot of insight at their levels. Or act as a translation stone to further his honestly lacking fluency in small children speak.
Rosalia being the most obvious.
She told things as they were, the situation as obvious as what happened. The dirty and the gritty that flies over Lukas' innocent, blessedly and unreasonably still innocent, head. She was blunt and biasedly honest to all that would listen. For some strange reason, Gable was deemed worthy. It was always an honor to be liked by a child, the opinions pure and from the heart. Something the stubborn little soul was quite in denial of for whatever reason.
Gable blamed Ron more than enough for too many things, so he'll just put this of Frederick. Even as a boy, he always had personality problems. Gable of all people knew that growing up didn't inherently solve any of it all.
Something else rang in his experiences senses, that while Rosalia could play wise and honest to others, she was having quite the trouble facing anything to do with her own reflection.
That there was more than just a bit of biased thinking going on. An entire misunderstanding, no quite possibly many misunderstandings in her little head. Now that was very Maria of her.
It appeared, that the child either was blissfully oblivious or willingly chose not to see a lot of things in front of her. But place it on someone else's shoulders and she'll hiss like a threatened young predator. Because that's exactly what she is, try as she might hang to the hazy illusion of mental age. Young and wet behind the ears, while the weight of the memories may follow heavy, so does all the waves of being a child.
You can't go back, unless you were those two. But you can't speed up time either.
Everyone had to grow up in their own time. Without the pressure to rush. Like livestock to the market, meat to the slaughter. It did them no good.
"Whatcha thinking about now Gable?!" the boy his arms smacked at his temple, more trying to rub Gable's face in his hands than do any harm.
"....how you kids try to grow up too fast."
"Oh! That! That's because there's lots of cool stuff we wanna do that only we can do! And you wanna play too but you're too tall now. "
"That's ok! Grown ups are allowed in more places and stuff to play, but you all act like you can't play. That's dumb, you can play lots more than me. So I just wanna play with what I can before I can't no more because growing up made me stupid. I'm growing lots real fast right? I'm definitely stronger."
When Lukas exclaims that last part he pats at his belly with a satisfied drumming, looking particularly silly. While he was in a healthy weight range Lukas had the soft slightly protruding belly that many young children did. He patted it with glee, glad for all the yummy things that now goes into it.
In fact, Gable would prefer he put on some more weight, more strength to grow. All while carefully watching to make for the child's previously lacking and unbalanced diet.
Afterall, this was a child without a mother or father. Without anyone since the start. His early foundation left much to be desired, despite how healthy the child seemed now. They had a lot of work to do to make up for what those first few years did to his growing system.
"Yes. Yes, you're definitely growing. Horizontally." Gable nodded, playing along to not laugh. Trying not to sigh out loud in relief.
Another child might not have made it through what he did. No chance of survival, let alone recovering. That was saying something.
"Oh I know that word, it means like the sun space when it rises or sets!"
"Not quite Lukas. It's a line that goes sideways. Sometimes the skyline is called the horizon."
"Almost! I guess pretty good. Amar pointed it to me last I asked!"
"He's a quieter boy."
"Noooooo, I don't know why people say that. Amar talks a lot and a lot and it goes everywhere and we have lots of fun and nothing he says is too hard for me to understand even if he knows a lot because Rosa says some really funny things. She likes sounding like a grown-up! Don't tell her but I think she's doing very a bad job of it."
He won't but Gable can imagine the reaction.
While Rosalia was good at telling the situation methodically, in great detail, and occasionally revealing the warnings of what was to come, "spoilers" she so called them, it was Amar that actually understood things as they were.
It was as innate as it was a skill.
'Sometimes when Lukas says one thing, he actually means to connect it to three other things that happened to him before. But he doesn't know how to say it right for you.'
'When Lukas says he's too big or heroic for something, that means he's scared but embarrassed about it. If he's too big, then it can't be scary like before. But that doesn't work.'
'When the lights are off, open the door, if the door is closed, turn on the lights. Talk to him, he's not used to hearing voices in the dark.'
Those were among the little things that the quiet boy counted out to him, before and after he took Lukas in. On that very first day, and slowly over time. Amar was only quiet at first as if judging you were worth any of his precious words, and then he was like any other blabbering child.
Again, an honor.
But that one...had already grown up too much, too fast.
As if the counter to Lukas, his current health was deplorable. But the foundation was excellent. Carefully nurtured and raised. Though there was poison in his veins, the roots were stronger than any high house's pampered little heir hopefuls, fed on potent elixirs and powerful treasures their whole young lives.
Knowing where he escaped from, that was most likely the case.
The boy has known hardships of course, there was no room for that argument. Along with the gross overdoses he's been nutritionally deficient for a long period of time, not just simply unbalanced like Lukas was when Gable first met him. But his body, while so much smaller and frailer, clearly had a much stronger start. The natural resistance working in tandem with whatever was fed and worked into him.
With a side dish of poisons.
"Gaaaable I don't want another bath!" Lukas complained, unaware of the running thoughts Gable poured over as he took them from the hidden space to the bath. Physically filling up half the tub at the same time.
"A quick clean up. It will help you sleep better." he coaxed gently.
"Baths are a good thing. So is you not tracking anything through my floors or on any clean surface."
"He does not count and can be thrown out of my house at any moment. Now. Do you want to be thrown out by chimney? Or shall we get you clean, make sure all hands and tummies are connected right, and some bedtime milk and crackers?"
Lukas seems to consider it, for a part of him really did enjoy running like a wild animal under the moonlight. Felt like something cool strong boys would do. But against Gable's gentle undressing and the promise of warm milk and crackers, something he really can't get in the wild, that's what he goes for.
"Alright! But you have to eat with me too. Otherwise, it doesn't taste right!"
"Hmmm, how so." Gable distracts the boy with talking, lifting and rinsing him in the warm soapy water. Careful to avoid the tearfully stinging eyes but filthy spots behind the ears and under tiny nails.
"Tastes too quiet. You don't like that taste either right Gable? Tastes worse than Cap's cooking, and that's saying a lot! Did I say that right?"
"....yeah.Yeah Lukas, that is saying a lot."
"You know....you can call me Lookiepookiedookie or whatever all the fun stuff Cap does too. If you wanna. A hero supposed to have lots of titles!"
"...I don't know how...heroic the name 'Poo-tatos' is."
"Oh that one! I like that one a lot! It's potatoes but funnier, haha poooootatos. Haha hah!"
"....I see....I'm too late."
"Wait wait wait if I get to be potatoes, and that's awesome, and Rosa get called pumpkin lots, then what's Amar? I don't think there's a lot of veggies that are as small as Amar?! Hmmmmm."
"Don't think too hard about it Lukas."
Gable knows how the children easily missed this fact of their little friend, how specifically picky he was. The small boy only accepting things that were either very good for him, or horribly bad.
Awful standards. Ones that could easily lead to another dead child to bury in an unmarked grave.
It was hard enough to lay their soldiers to rest. Harder when there was no body to bury. But it was nothing compared to the hope, the living.
Gable hopes that little boy, the one who giggles on bathroom jokes with Lukas, likes sitting on the balloon flying high, and selectively picks at his meal plates, flicking off food to the others when no one's looking, doesn't dig around any further. Doesn't keep looking. He hopes Frederick knows what he's doing.
He can hope, but he knows how damn hard it is to keep a child from wondering.
Drying off Lukas wasn't hard, the normally playful child already feeling the pull of sleep. Strength worn out from all that exhausting play. Just like any other normal child his age.
"Gable?" Lukas yawns into the towel.
"Yes." Gable pats, already maneuvering those soft dough like limbs into his little sleeping clothes. Hardly sized up since Gable had them made.
Children grew fast but this one had a long ways to go.
"If I really try hard enough, not just with digging, I can go to her and save em. Right?" the boy fell into his arms again, speaking against his neck.
An answer Gable doesn't really want to hear. Doesn't want to face.
"The crying lady."
It's not what he was expecting but he dreads it none the less.
"There's a crying lady. With fancy bread colored hair and some very ugly hands, they're all skinny and got no cool battle scars or anything like you or Cap or anyone awesome. But she's always crying in her hands and I can't see her very clearly."
"...Just a bad dream Lukas. There....are many sad and downtrodden sorts of people on this good earth."
"Yep yep it's a very bad dream. Because then it all goes dark and she stops crying. Stop everything. And it all goes dark and quiet. And I start crying for lots and lots and it's really scary because it's so dark. And I scream and cry for a very very very long time and it stays really really really dark and cold and it stays that way for almost forever!"
"It didn't. I know baby, I know. It wasn't, it won't happen ever again."
"But it does! Every time it gets too dark it feels like that and I see it but I can't hear anything ever. If I didn't cry then I hear nothing at all. Nothing and no one!"
"It's okay now Lukas, it's okay."
"Nuh uh. I got out the box!"
"And the crying lady still in it!"
"It's a very very scary place Gable! I gotta get her out too. But it's really scary so I have to bring lots of lights. I hope I haves enoughs."
"We can make more. Don't be scared Gable, we can make lots more lights. And noise! I won't let it eat you. Oh eat! We have my dippy crackers and milk now?! That will make you feel lots better before bed, just like me. Don't you wanna grow big and strong like me? Come on. Gabbey? I'm getting sleeeepy."
Eventually, they do get their warm milk and snack, though a little too late. But it took Ron to bring it up, find them there curled up, and to untangle and tuck Lukas into a proper bed. Gable was very busy on this bathroom floor thank you very much.
Ron tucks him in too, despite his dismissal, all without a single world or taunt.
Somehow, it wasn't too quiet at all.
Previously, on the most interesting evening performance of my very short life:
My parents were disgusting.
My mother's current maids escorting us are probably secret guards. Except for Vedette. I believe in you Vedette, innocent until proven guilty. Even then the bastard probably had it coming.
Georgie is a little too mean girls. Who does he think he is?!
Supper was great. We all like katsu cutlets- er I mean cotleta.
The stupid prince is here in the building, somewhere, unfortunately.
And most importantly of all, an eloping couple turned out to be the understudy Mia who is due on stage in but a few minutes. She's back alright, to the staff's relief, but in a burning loose carriage controlled by a very crazy drunk man who claims her as "his". Not to the staff's relief.
Now they've ridden off somewhere downstairs and we're going to find out what happens next.
Let's get on with it!
I suspect the reason why no one has come running out or noticed the much better show going on outside is due to all the buffer space and magical soundproofing. An appreciated part of any finely built theater. Kudos there.
The main hall is a mess of some debris and whatever the carriage ran over on its way. A few pieces of furniture overturn if not simply thrown down by that insane drunkard.
Who I must say is faaaaaaar too old for this Mia girl. Creepy much?
But the disgust does not overwhelm the intrigue. I must see this show through the end.
"Oh no. Oh my. What a bad, scary, possibly very dangerous thing to happen. Everyone is so in daaanger. If only there was some super strong someone to saaaave the day." I recite, hands up to my face in mock shock.
All three maids return my expectant looks with professionally calm and very expressionless ones of their own.
"What if I look away?" I make to close my sister's eyes.
"Miiiiiia! Fret not, for it is I! Fabio! I'm coming Mia! Do not give in!" rides in a sexy young man on what appears to be an old mule covered in flour. How unexpectedly comedic!
I dare say 'sexy' for this young man has flowing hair and a half ripped costume shirt. Physique wise, meh but hey not an unpleasant overall package for a cheap unexpected male lead. He's even carrying a skinny but pretty sword for a final showdown on his ridiculously tight pants. Are those leather? How do those not rip?
Yes, all the formulas for a good show.
Good thing, I covered up Lilyanne's eyes. Hey, wait now who's covering up my eyes?! Georgie? I was watching that!
"Alright.... I think we can all agree that the first thing first, is to get the young misses somewhere safe." my young assistant ignores my clawing and complaints. Addressing the maids while firmly covering my eyeballs.
"No, I want to know what happens!"
In the dark, I hear them muttering the pros and cons of rejoining my parents in the viewing box or just getting a carriage to express deliver us straight out of here. All of them terrible ideas for I don't get to see my show.
With nothing but my other senses, I must piece together the story in bits and pieces. Oh if only there were some screaming actors practically narrating the entire scene for me.
"It's terrible! The carriage lot has been completely compromised!"
"They ran over Jimminy!"
"So like not to be rude or anything but like I broke my nail in the door explosion thing."
"The audience has been taken hostage from underground, and no one knows! Keep calm I say. Keep CALM!"
"They've activated the flame effects sir."
"Doooo Reeee miiiii faaaa soooo laa tiii doooo~"
"I'm pretty sure the janitor could wear those pants better than Fabio. He just doesn't keep up on leg day, you know? It's so uneven."
"Mama mia that's a fine spaghetti!"
Nevermind. This listening only show just is not working out? I'm so very confused, even more so than when all this started.
"Pardon me. Where do innocent bystanders go?" I hear Georgie's voice ask.
I suppose it's too much to ask for to get some good seats to the show underground.
"CAN'T YOU SEE WE'RE BUSY!? You can just go straight to he--eeelllo. Why uh I mean, right this way~" a man's voice suddenly changes "Please excuse our mess, you know, actors."
Um that doesn't sound very safe.
When I can see again, Georgie gathers both Lilyanne and I up in his arms. As weak as they look, he is a cook and can handle our weights the same he can handle baking bread, lofting pots and roasts, or flipping up a heave pan.
But where did the maids go?
I swear all the good pivotal parts happen off-screen where I'm blocked and can't see. Bet they're having some real fun where all the action is.
While here I am getting carried back into the auditorium area. Georgie following behind a not at all suspicious character in very poofy shorts and bright ballet tights. I'm getting a very bad feeling about following this clown into the dark. That's just a general no no, ever!
"Georgie, I don't think this is safe."
"My young Miss, if anything dares comes to harm you there will be a lot to pay for from your family. I think we'll be fine. I spoke to the manager."
"Rosa? Scary?" Lilyanne clutches to me. The like darkness of the tunnel taking seemingly too long to walk through.
I don't think we're being led back to the audience.
"Hey what are you doing? Only crew can be back here, what are you doing letting these kids in?"
The tunnel opens up....to the backstage dressing room! Oh my, now we're getting the backstage VIP tour. This has truly been the most random evening in my short life.
"You fool. Look at the big picture!"
"Call make up, call whoever we can! We have another Mia! A younger and prettier one!"
"What? Where stupid? All I see is some kids and their very male butleeeerrr, err oh. Oh! Why hello there. This just might work. Hey, there don't be shy. We just have a little itty bitty favor to ask."
At this point, Georgie had woken up the stupidity of his actions, inching us back out the door. The dawning and predating looks that the two men and slowly approaching staff giving me the impression of getting trapped in a lion's den.
An old woman in the back is getting a chair and long haired wig ready. Two assistants giggle madly in relief as they pick and pull dresses and women's lingerie out.
I think I see their plan.
"What do you want with my servant?" I demand, probably not looking very intimidating at all. But hey work with what you got. All I got is this spoiled rich girl card.
"Do anything bad to him or make my sister cry and I'll tell my papa on you. You can't afford to make him mad. That's not even touching on my mother. "
My adorable little threats get a few chuckles. The staff surrounding us even further despite some women chastising the men for being creepy.
"We're not bad people or anything. Don't be scared." broadly smiles the second man we saw.
"Oh this is why you're backstage so much, no seriously you're scaring them." the old woman intervenes, "A bit of pinch we in, if the little lasses could juuuust sit right down here and you, oh youth! Oh what's your name darling, oh your skin is like a fine glove. We just need a little stand in, a moment of your time."
"You really have the wrong person," Georgie shakes, getting his face groped.
As Georgie's young miss, it is my duty to see to him and his affairs. From his safety to ensuring he's not bullied after all a good mistress must protect her people.
But I am only three years old. Who am I to stop an entire production crew from dressing my fair little assistant up as a woman? A beautiful one I hope?
Oh, forgive me, Georgie. I hear you screaming but I am simply too small and weak to do a thing. Believe me, I am just as terrified as you are. Absolutely shaking.
Oh no no no not the hot pink dress, that won't suit him at all!
Go for the pure and innocent look, something refreshing. Really highlight that skincare and beauty I worked so hard on. Soft, flowing. Not a too fancy wig, too old too much. We want to make him look more natural, something like....every young man's first love! Yes. What a concept.
"Rosalia! You evil little brat! Stop encouraging them! Ahhhh!!!" he screams, getting buried in a flurry of hands and makeup.
"Hurry hurry there's not much time."
"Oh, such soft cheeks and lips! Is this really a young male?"
"There be reasons why some men be bent, like em over women, and I see it."
"Stuff that padding in good! He should at least look like a woman from afar!"
I'm missing a very exciting showdown below but it can't be helped. Perhaps the secret guards are handling it now? But as compensation, I get to see all my hard work bloom in such unexpected ways. The makeup crew marvels how soft his skin is to the touch, so smooth and flawless without any foundation at all.
I wonder how I can use this to promote demand for my products?
Oh, what a lovely young woman my little aide is becoming through all his perilous screaming. A little too thick on the defining makeup but lovely none the less, it is theater after all. There might even be some misguided young men in the audience that might just fall in love with him on stage. Oh ho ho ho~
"Let me go! I really can't do this?! I can't be your stand-in!" he cries, looking like a delicate and half-crazed flower.
Hmmm, we have to work on his personality and acting chops. That's not how a heroine should be.
"Oh please kind sir, you're our only hope."
"Just stand there and walk to where you're led! And move your mouth, someone will sing behind backstage for you!"
"Follow the cues! And you're on, you're on! Raise the curtains at the count of 10!"
Still unwilling, Georgie goes kicking and screaming the whole way. The entirety of the cast and crew scrambling to get in all their places, and entirely forgetting about the two little girls they left stuck back here.
"Rosa?" my sister turns to me, wide eyes and sparkling "pretty princess?!" she points to where Georgie was just forced to sit and transform.
"Yes Lilyanne, everyone can turn into a pretty princess." I nod solemnly.
"Ooooooohhhhhh!!!!" she cheers excitedly.
With no one to stop us, we hop off to inspect the ware. Though I am very careful not to let Lilyanne touch the makeup. It was very interesting to examine what's used around here but you never know how safe that stuff is, even if it's the theater costume stuff.
Instead, she plays with shimmery fake hair and hilariously fake fat jewels. Something a wealthy little young miss like her has never seen before.
It's a mildly amusing time but really I want to go watch my Georgie debut, performing like a star. So after dressing up Lilyanne's hair just a bit more, I take her hand to go walk and peek from the side stage.
That is until I heard some wretched screaming. Courtesy of Georgie of course. Only this time it was truly enraged and helpless.
"Come on Lily, I think Georgie's really in trouble this time." I pull, picking up the pace.
I wish I could describe what the play, let alone this part of the act was about. But it's in separate stories and honestly very confusing for someone not watching the majority of it. All I can make of it, were the actors in their strange ensemble, dancing around in a big circle. Flames, ones I suspect are very real, all around them.
In the middle of it Georgie, in full hair, dress and make up, plays a damsel in distress. An inner circle lifting him up to be presented as a virgin sacrifice.
That's probably the plot yeah.
"But halt. " sang a fake three-headed man in one suit, "thee tho thum my domain now and this one is to devours thine one oh fair maiden. By bread or bone, with relish, as I please all thought the-"
"Stop with the bad acting and innuendos. Just shut up and get me out of here! You're wasting time!" Georgie threw a shoe at the 'giant' completely improvising at this point.
The sudden comedy makes the audience roar with laughter.
The crew really did pick the wrong boy to play up on their stage. Still, he's quite popular. The more Georgie rages and acts out of character, completely yelling over the bad lip-syncing opera lady off stage, the more the audience eats it up.
He slaps at each of their faces, then throws his other lady's shoe for good measure. Huffing to clamor down and escape.
But the awful 'giant' catches him by the waist throwing him over with some awful lines. Who writes these things?
"Oh for fuck's sake."
Georgie looks done, so damn done to all the audience roaring and whistles. He rips off the wig, possibly along with a few strands of his own hair. Then reaches into the dress to pull out the fake boobs, one by one.
It's the funniest strip show the audience has seen.
" I'm not even the girl you want! She's downstairs getting kidnapped and fought over by some other weirdos! I'm not even a girl! THEY!" he angrily points to the dancing actors "dragged me here and stuffed a dress on me! I'm a man see, a man!"
The audience seems to think it's all part of the show, clapping and whistling below.
Young and sweet, only 16. Georgie starts ripping at the top of the dress as if that would prove himself. Unaware of how scandalous his bare shoulders and smooth flat chest look through the frilly material. It's inappropriate! He's a minor!
"Well," agrees all three heads on the 'giant', "You certainly are not a fair....MAID....but by grand jury this one has decided...we shall accept you anyways."
"WHAT?!! NO! Get me off this thing! Get your nasty heads away from me!"
Sexual harassment is a big no-no, at any age. But this is especially indecent. I aim and throw a shoe at the 'giant'.
When it hits and bounces off, even from off stage, the audience simply loses it.
Pleased with the results, I reach into my purse and the surrounding props to throw more random things. Ah, those practice sessions with Tamera has really improved my strength. Let's aim for some pain!
My little act, and the now comedic show, was going along well enough. Georgie making eye contact to know how to well book it, though not without a few more quick acts of violence. Then storms his way off stage. Not so bad.
If not for Lilyanne....who has run out to the stage.
With a little hand and her little shoe, she runs up close and throws to smack the 3 actors. Officially slaying the 'beast' as well as the audience.
She has also slain our lives.
My parents are watching this. They're out there, in their gross balcony nest, witnessing everything. And now somehow their precious pampered overprotected daughter is the center stage view....of everyone. Sure no one knows who she is, a cute little girl, but my parents know.
Oh, we are so dead.
Okay, breathe Rosa girl, breathe. We have a survival contingency plan to work on. Immediately.
I could wait for this all the blow over and appeal for their forgiveness? The likelihood of surviving that? Not high.
I could call and order Lilyanne to run back here? But she's very preoccupied calling people homewreckers in public. There's still the explanation I have to give out on how she got up here in the first place.
I can go up on stage myself to drag her down. Which is a great risk to myself, because then Mother and Father will absolutely know I'm involved. Why do that to myself? But if I do nothing, they'll blame me for not taking care of Lilyanne.
In such a situation, one can only go so boldly stupid it just might work.
I look around frantically, trying to find that horrible thing I need. There's the orchestra pit but that's too crowded and confused in the turn in events. The current backstage staff either shell shocked or running like chickens with their heads cut off.
There! In one of the darkened wings left stage!
Underneath curtains and people's legs, I run and roll. Making my way to the dreaded instrument placed on an island of the stage. There's no microphone to turn on, no locks to undo, I just need to climb up to the chair at the right height. No lights, and hopefully it remains that way.
The chair isn't high enough, so I have to stand on top. But the few subtle notes I press sound in tune. Taking a deep breath, I stretch my tiny little fingers as I have done millions of times before this.
I hate this thing. It's no piano and sounds awful if it isn't my father playing it. But my grounding is at stake here!
I start with slamming the keys, the terrible noise catching confused attention. But more importantly, Lilyanne's.
I play the warm up tune and she gasps.
"Let's siiiing a sooooong that we don't know! Let sing it hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiaaaa an siiiiiing it looooooooooooo~ Fa lalalala~ Offf we goooooo!"
Oh thank god it's working. She's thrown down the show to toddle closer to me and the music, only it looks as if she's stepping to the edge of the stage. A smart light technician spotlighting the singing toddler.
I stretch my fingers again, starting the next piece. I'm not my father, I can't do what he does and I have no sheet notes in front of me. It can only be simple pieces I have memorized. Things she knows the words to if not can play a little stupid monkey dance.
It has to be cheats.
"Twinkle twinkle little star! How I woooonder what you are!~"
She hops on her tiptoes, making the skirt of her dress fly. Her little hands making 'twinkling' motions. A recital dance of the unexpected cuteness!
Has anyone in this world ever heard of this children's song?
Of course not! Even I've never heard it on the damn harpsichord! What have I done?!
But it's a lullaby I sing often enough for Lilyanne, so much she knows and loves. My dancing little sister effortlessly making things look lovely and adorable.
I'm going to appeal to Mother's cute loving side. And what is cuter than her own precious Lilyanne?! Homewreckers in sailor suits not included.
It takes my hardest effort to reach and combine notes. Somehow changing a modern beginner piano song into something worthy on this stage, on a damn harpsichord none the less. It has no weight, no tone, the ranges are limited. I can't just play it like a simple piano. It doesn't translate right.
Ah Rosalia memories, don't fail me now. I know you can play, don't embarrass me now. Trills. Rolled chords. Stegato. Legato. I must use all these painful music lessons to make this work.
It's not a very long song, even if I throw in some fancy-sounding bridges and notes to lengthen it to account for Lily's slightly off beat and occasional wrong lines. She's only three and this is already good enough! It's also for the audience.
They are after all here to see and hear a show.
Without much of a break, I transition to a cheerful piece I remember Father playing for Lilyanne before. One of her trained monkey dances.
With no more lines to sing, she dances. Hops and twirls with increasing difficulty to the audience's enamored delight.
Sure, there are probably people with brains down there wondering what the hell is going on. But it's just so cute, so they sit back and enjoy.
I can't keep it up. My mind blanking out before I switch to...another cheat. Time for a song Lilyanne, be super cute!
"If you happy and you knows it~ Clap your hands!"
"If you happy and you knowie it ~ Clappy your hands!"
This time the audience starts clapping in tune.
"If you happy and you know it!!! Den you um really really gotta show! If you happy an you know it clap you haaaaaands!!!~"
What wondrous applause. They're not used to this kind of novel audience interaction. Or watching a toddler on stage in general. I'm exploiting my sister to save our asses.
I give her a break playing some random music she can dance to as she pleases. Mozart? No one's ever heard of Mozart here. Um some upbeat prelude, um a piano sonata, number 16.
Yes, that one's easy. I remember teaching Heng-Fei that one. And Fur Elise, oh no one's heard Beethoven either. I can absolutely get away with this.
For some odd reason, because everything must go wrong somehow, it suddenly gets very hot all around me. Hot and bright.
Oh no, the spotlights. They found me.
The audience jeering and laughter gets not twice but three times as loud. What the hell? I suppose to them it is now not just one little trained monkey but two. Curses.
I better finish up this recital quickly. Playing an appropriate finish of beginner class Beethoven, I change the notes for the finale.
It's slow, almost drowned out in the audience chatter, which is very rude mind you, but eventually, Lilyanne catches on to this life saving song.
"I love you~ You love me~
We're a happy family!!!
Wit a grrreeeat big hug!!!
and a kiss from meeee to youuuu~
Won't you saaaaay~
Youuuuu luuuuuuuuv meeeeeeeeeee tooooooooooooooooo~!!!!"
I have no shame here. Blatant plagiarism. The children's programming network in another world with a purple dinosaur will never know.
She repeats the chorus and the seconds part with flapping arms as if out to hug the invisible audience. To finish it off, she blows clumsy kisses out, as if waving to her mama and papa somewhere out there.
A critical hit! The audience goes wild if not dying in their seats from cuteness. Such a brazen display of cheesy cringe affection that only cute small children can get away with! It fills people with warm fuzzy feelings and bursts them with the instincts to love, care, and protect the small adorable creature who has so captured their hearts and minds.
Errr, I think I hear Mother somewhere in the dark sea. I hope that's a good sign.
When I hop off the harpsichord the lights still follow me, a truly pesky thing. The sound of "aaawwww" coming from down below as I run up to Lilyanne, who mistakenly once again crashes into me with a hug.
The awws come even louder and it's mortifying.
Pulling her apart, I lead her down to a bow and curtsey to the audience. Our first and last bow, so we can book it off stage.
But everything that can go wrong must.
The lights turn off. All of them. Plunging the entire auditorium in total darkness.
The shock, the intrigue, the fire?
"Diiiiid you reaaAlly think you could escape~ My beeeeeaauty my briiiide!!!" a haunting voice sings.
A young woman screams, her super large shadow dramatically running across the badly lit stage with fire flames all around. It's become a shadow play, the scarily long-legged creepy figure of a caped man slowly following after her.
Oh it's Mia and her stalker again!
But why are they singing?
"Let me goooooo~"
"Let me goooooooOOO~"
"Let meeee GOOOOOOOOOOOO~"
Oh that's a very high note. Oh ouch. The audience however seems to love it, cheering in applause.
"Not on your liiiiiiiiife!" the evil shadow sings before a great crashing comes falling down, knocking down the shadow.
"Theeeeeeen I shall taaaake it" jumps down the sexy shadow of a young man with womanly flowing hair.
"Oh Fabio!" she swoons.
"Alright, that's more than enough crazy." Georgie, messily changed back to his clothes, comes to ruin the show once again, lifting up and my sister from our viewing spot and out of harm's way.
For once this evening, I actually agree with him. Young or old, I don't need this kind of bad drama in my life. Watching is fine but being on stage is really not worth it at all.
He then plops us into the arms of the maids, who have suddenly appeared again. What a strange coincidence.
I'm too tired to think any further. The excitement of the evening really being too much for my small body to put up with. Another time I will analyze all the missing clothes, scratches, burn marks that don't belong on maids. But until then, I'm pooped.
"Soooo fuuuun~" Lilyanne sings, sounding like a bad imitation of an opera star. I hope this didn't influence her too badly.
"Kyaaaaaa my babies!" Mother rushes to meet and attack us right outside the auditorium, eagerly destroying us with hugs and kisses.
Too much for one night. I'm weak. I won't survive this.
"Kyaaa kyaa kyaaa so precious and cute!!!! Oh Frederick! Thank you, darling! Thank you for preparing such a wonderful surprise! I never would have thought?! "
"Mama, Lily loves you!"
"And I love you two tooo~ Kyaaaa so wonderful! I cried so much! My girls worked so hard to hide their practice show for mama~! Frederick, you sly thing!"
Standing there as if he were truly responsible for orchestrating it all, my father serenely smiles. There's no spotlight but he shines simply by staying, far more gorgeous than any mere theatre actor.
"It was all the girls' idea, Maria. They just wanted to show how much....we simply...love you." he smirks, looking at me directly. The threat and my wrongs hanging in their air through his gaze.
It's not like I meant for all this to happen. How could I control that? Forgive me. Please don't ground me again. I'm really innocent here.
"Come now my loves. The best part of the show is over. Now your carriage awaits"
With Father escorting, Mother being so covered in hearts and flowers, choking my sister and me alive that no one bothers to notice the wreck and debris of the wide-open lobby. The servants in mixed tired states following right behind and to the side.
This really is crazy enough. While not ideal for an ending, I'd be glad it's over.
"Oh but that last song! So grandly wonderful! Why didn't my Rosa sing along with Lily? Mama wants to hear Rosa sing too~"
"Why Maria, I'm sure our Chippy would be so 'glad' to."
Close the curtains already. This show is over! Over I say!