New story just for you! Prompt was 'Man-child wonders why father didn't like him' given by CS.
Confession: I had to remember the prompt bc I wrote it on a little scrap of paper and may have washed it along with my jeans. I am 94% certain I have the prompt correct!
Special thanks to my good friend, AM, for being my first reader!
My father has always hated me. This was one of the understandings of life from my early childhood. I tell you this not for sympathy but in the hopes you will understand the reasoning behind my actions. If you must judge me, please allow me to tell my story.
I suppose everyone believes history begins with their birth. The idea that the story may have started before, perhaps even decades before, is not a thought we tend to entertain. But, to understand how I came to this point, you must follow me as I meander through my familial history.
My parents met in a year that saw their country near war yet not yet knowing how it would touch their lives. These were halcyon days for them. They courted with the full blessings of their families, both sides seeing this match as ideal.
To this young couple, the world was theirs for the taking. Money, education and, perhaps most importantly, a name known to those for whom such things mattered. They believed nothing was out of bounds.
Their marriage came as spring went and they began the serious business of starting a family. Both knew an heir and a spare was required to ensure the continuation of their line.
Their first son was born not long after the happy couple said 'I do'. He came out small and weak but was the one who bore my father's name. Death is not one who cares for such things as names and took the boy before he was a month old.
The second son was born hale and hearty but was not strong enough to survive an outbreak of yellow fever. He was gone before he learned to walk.
When my mother was pregnant with me, the murmurings of war had turned into shouts. My father, as was expected of him, left his pregnant wife and gladly went to war. His heart was already hardening at the thought of losing another child.
But I was not lost. I have no memory of my own birth or of the first few years of my life. I only have hazy recollections of my mother continually hovering over me, pale with dark circles under her eyes. Her dark brown hair was shot through with gray.
When my father returned from war, others would have told you he was not the same man who had left. He was missing most of his left arm and a part of his soul. I only knew this cold-eyed man who made me cry anytime he approached me.
Later in my life, when I tried to understand his contempt of me, I thought it might have been my childish fear. Having lost two children and seen many other deaths, the utter refusal of his remaining child to connect with him would seem a good reason to harden his heart.
It was not this reason that he hated me. As I became used to his presence, I did try and make my peace with him. Each time I tried to hug him or speak to him about my likes, he would scowl and walk away from me. By the time I was ten, my father refused to stay in the same room with me except during meal times.
My mother died when I was fourteen and it was with her death that the truth was revealed. My father, drunk after his wife's funeral, cursed me for a bastard and damned my eyes.
It was then that I understood. My eyes were not the lapis blue of my mother's nor the steely storm gray of my father's, but a deep rich brown. I had never questioned this until now. I, who was born in the years after my father's departure, may not be a child of his blood.
I suppose I should be grateful my father did not turn me out from his house there and then. I was still considered a child, but one he felt no love or responsibility towards. Perhaps if he had sent me to boarding school, things would have been different. Instead, he kept me in the large house, both of us more ghostlike than if my mother's wraith had returned.
It was during these years that the reason behind my madness takes shape. For not long after my mother died, I began to hear whispers in the old house. Our small staff kept well away from the family quarters after dark and my nanny had long since been sent away. The whispers were male and seemed to emanate from my bedroom walls.
When I became brave enough, I began searching my room. It took 3 weeks of listening to the maddening whispers before I found the secret door that lead from my room. It was another week before I was able to follow the steps behind that door.
I cannot tell you how far down those steps go. Perhaps if you search the house, you will find them yourself, but I doubt it. I do not believe you will find those steps unless they wish to be found, as they did back then.
The steps lead far below our house, even below the cellar that. As I followed them down that night, it was the cold and damp that struck me. I was ill-prepared for the journey in my simple nightclothes, but once I started, I felt I could not turn back.
I found myself in a cavern with six tunnels, not counting my own, going in every direction. To my surprise, the cavern was not dark. Candlelight came from myriad crevices built into the wall. In the center was a finely laden wooden table surrounded by seven chairs. At the head of the table was a man, richly dressed and drinking wine. Children of various ages sat around, enraptured and listening to him speak. One chair to the right of him was empty.
The man stopped talking and smiled at me. One by one, the heads of the other children turned in my direction. All had eyes as brown as my own.
"Welcome, my son!" The man gestured towards the empty chair. "We've been awaiting you for many years."
Unsure of what to do, I walked past the dark-eyed children to sit near the smiling man. As I approached, I began to see that we all bore a familial resemblance. This man was my true father and these other children were my siblings. I was taking my rightful place at last.
As if sensing my thoughts, the man's smile faltered a bit.
"You are one of my blood," he said, "but you do not yet belong here. First you must pass a trial to prove your loyalty to me, to your true family."
My heart sank. I felt I would always be bereft of a father's love. There must always be something in the path of my happiness.
The man reached over and took my chin. I did not know my eyes had filled with tears until one warm drop fell down my cheek. The man looked at me kindly and wiped it away.
"Do not cry, my son." The man's voice and manner were so kind that I could not help but cry more. No one had ever shown me such affection. It was in that moment I knew I would do anything for him.
"What must I do, Father?" It felt right to call this man by that title I did not use without hesitation to the man my mother had married. " Please tell me."
The man, my father, leaned in to whisper in my ear. The words pulsed into my mind as a prayer.
"You must kill that which you love until only I am left." The whisper was a caress against my cheek and I closed my eyes to savor the sensation. When a dagger was placed in my hand, I took it eagerly. "Until you do this, my kingdom will not be open to you again."
You may know the rest. The deaths that followed. I started with my only friend, a neighbor boy who would meet me when we were able to escape our parents. We met deep in the woods near a small creek to talk and imagine what our futures held. No one was near as I stabbed him. No one could hear his screams. I cried as I killed him, watching his life ebb and the fear and confusion in his eyes as he died. I did love him.
The door did not open that night no matter how I beat and scratched upon the spot. I cried harder as I slid to the flood, my nails broken and hands bloody.
Our cook was next, as I did love her in my own way. She was not kind to me, but did pity me so was not as harsh as she might be. I tried to ensure she did not suffer. My blow came as she walked into town on her day off. She was found the next day but no blame followed me. Who would have thought a young boy guilty of such a crime?
Four years I killed anyone I felt the slightest kindness towards. Did you know it was me? Did you suspect but held your tongues thinking I was the son of the manor and thus untouchable?
I would have done anything to see my true father again. I did do whatever I could. 4 years is a very long time to know love is so near yet so far from your grasp.
It finally dawned on my only last night why I was being kept from my true father. I would have told you I hated the man you believe to be my father. I would have said my heart held no love for him at all, but yet, isn't hate a twisted form of love? You cannot truly hate unless you have truly loved. All those years that man withheld his love from me only hurt because I did love him.
I should not be here. I should not be in chains telling you this story. I should be in the cavern, sitting at the right hand of the father of my blood. I should be with him, seeing his smile and feeling his love beam upon me.
I would be there had the hateful old man died as he should have. I knew his heart was hard but never considered it to be completely absent. My aim was true. I struck at the very heart of the one thing standing in the way of my happiness. I have grown so precise over the years. I know exactly where to strike to ensure a quick and clean kill.
Yet, when I struck that man, he screamed but did not die. He ran with my father's dagger in his chest. He called out for help and the servants held me down. You were called to arrest me.
That man's hate will try to kill me as he has always wished. Know he has always hated me, but my real father does love me. That thought will be enough to sustain me, even as you wish to take my life in place of the one who deserves only death.
What you cannot know, is that the imposter will not win. You cannot hear the whispering of my his voice. You cannot hear him calling to me but he will come for me. The imposter will not win as a true father's love will overcome all.
My lofty dreams of being a famous & brilliant writer were literally smacked out of my head. Now I plan to fill the void with copious amounts of subpar writing!