[#3] Mother’s Wish
Heartbroken mother speaks up.
The story begins on the Wedding Day:
Back home, Mrs Castillo was exasperated; she was erupting with anger. Just like other guests, she had dressed herself best for the wedding. And then a little better — for her son. Only for her son. She even had been despising a part of her own son since the moment he decided to marry a cripple. The thought that she would be required to assist her daughter-in-law in everyday chores once Susan moves into their home made her cringe. It was only because her husband, Mr Castillo, insisted on allowing the man and wife to move in together in their home that she had made peace with the thought. She insisted both the newly weds to move out in a separate home and hire a help for the “cripple”.
Discovering that their once envied family had turned into a household joke across Merrifort, Mrs Castillo bursted out on her husband. “I told you she isn’t worth our Peter. He could get any girl he would have pointed at.”
“The girl he pointed at was Susan, dear. They were friends. Childhood friends.”
Mrs Castillo looked at her husband from head to toe to understand how could he still be calm and talking for Susan. She was aching inside and she kickstarted the conversation to make sure everyone present in the living room, including Carmen, Peter’s cousin and who believed Peter could never make a bad decision, loathe the girl as much as she did. Realizing her husband was still defending his original position, she said, “Come on, Brad. You don’t have to take her side now just because you don’t want to admit your mistake.”
Brad Castillo chuckled and his wife frowned at his giggling act. He moved closer towards his wife who was sitting on a wooden rocking chair — Peter’s favorite. He knelt down besides her and holding one of his wife’s forearm, he said, “April honey, I am not taking any sides. I am just saying that it isn’t that bad as it looks like.”
April recoiled her forearm from her husband’s grip. “It isn’t bad? We’ve become everyone’s joke, Brad. Go out and check for yourself how everyone is laughing at us,” she said in a hurt voice, tears building up in her eyes. Then, she mocked one of the joke that was floating around the town, “‘The guy wanted to be hero of some sort. And his heroine eloped with someone else.’”
April turned her head to look away from her husband whose eyes were at level with hers. Mrs Castillo knew that just like her, even her husband was hurt because of an incomplete wedding but because she was proven right about Susan, in her own sense of judgement, she thought she was eligible to throw a few tantrums before everyone else who didn’t believe her in the first place.
Brad only smiled back. Brad was a patient and wise man and many, who knew both him and his son, said that Peter had inherited his calmness from him. There’s even a local legend that every parent narrates to their children to teach them what kind of person they should grow up to be.
The legend had it that when Brad was newly married to April, one of the household help, a meek teenager boy, tried to rob the newly wedded Mrs Castillo when the man was out of home during the day. Upon returning from the day’s work, Brad listened to his wife’s narration of the events, went to the boy’s home and complained about boy’s act to his old mother — his only parent. He told the boy that he was forgiven for he was young and foolish but he also warned him that if a similar act was repeated, he would be behind the bars before he could even try to justify himself. The boy never made the mistake. He instead began working at a farm to earn enough livelihood to feed his mother and himself. After his mother’s death few years after, he went to a distant city to start his life afresh. Before he waved the town goodbye, he went to Mr Castillo’s home and thanked him for acting like a father and not like a robbery victim that day.
Carmen stood near the sofa all through the couple’s conversation. She registered that her uncle Brad had run out of words. She said, “Aunty, no one’s even going to remember that joke in a few days time.”
Mr Castillo, who was still knelt besides the rocking chair suddenly found his voice, “And that joke isn’t even funny.” He turned to Carmen and made an eyebrow gesture asking her to affirm his statement. “Isn’t it Carmen?”
“Of course! Who would call that even a joke?” Carmen tried to fake the chirp in her voice.
Mrs Castillo heard right through the fake tee-hees. She looked first at Carmen and then at her husband and kept her gaze affixed on him. He slowly got up on his feet and moved a step away from the chair. April stood up from the chair soon thereafter and moved closer to Brad. She wanted to remind him of something but didn’t want anyone else, even Carmen, to hear it. “Carmen, can you leave us for a moment, please?”
Carmen did as she was asked to. “Yes Aunty. I am just outside in case you need me.”
She didn’t say anything. Brad replied, “Sure, dear. Take care of yourself.” He turned his head towards April who still had her eyes locked on him and said, “What is it, honey?”
“Brad, I told you. Hadn’t I? I told you that she is a daughter of that filthy man. How is it possible that filth can bring up anything but filth? After Amy’s death, how he went after that nurse. Tch! Sometimes I don’t even believe that Amy died of high fever. He could have killed her to get her out of his and Maria’s way.”
Brad couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He had heard it before from her but she had made a promise to Peter to not repeat it again, which she had just broken. Brad threw his hands in the air and turned away. He was a patient man but some things, specially when they came from the people whom he respected, disgusted him to the core. He told her, in a slightly loud voice, “APRIL, WE’VE DISCUSSED THIS BEFORE. NOT AGAIN PLEASE.”
“Brad, all I am saying is that that filthy slut must pay for what she did to Peter. Consider it my wish or demand, that’s up to you,” she whispered in a low tone.
A knock on the already open door interrupts them. Peter stood between the door in his wedding suit that looked more like a night suit then. “Fighting again? About what? Susan? Can we stop doing it please?” he pleaded.
The story continues:
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