The Rise of Outcasts
I was looking outside as the remaining breeze of winter hit my face, while my sister was facing the other way. Fina and Risa left us alone just a moment ago and now, we were stuck in an awkward position like this.
“You seem to be enjoying this event, Sophia.”
I started the conversation.
"Why does that concern you?"
"Isn't that obvious for an elder brother to be concerned about his little sister?"
I gave a wry smile.
"Yeah, right. That totally makes sense coming from you."
There was a brief silence after that.
"Do you wish to know why I decided to go against father's will?" I said in a serious tone, no more joking. I wanted to take this seriously.
Seeing this, Sophia diverted her attention to me and nodded. She was still a kid, I guess.
I leaned back and continued. "I was around ten when I first visited the Lower End with Angelo. What do you think I saw there?"
Sophia didn’t answer. That was expected since she only heard about Low End and the people that lived there. But the lack of proper information can cause a disjointed world to be formed through imagination. To Sophia, it must have been some absurd place that was hard to put into words.
"First, understand the concept of poverty. Imagine if everyone in High End ran out of food or there is not enough food for everyone to eat. That's what it means to be hit by poverty. Even putting poverty aside, how do you feel if you don't get to eat luxurious food for just one day?"
"Pretty devastating, I assume."
“That’s Low End in a nutshell. Forget luxury, most people can’t even afford to eat 3 times a day. What I saw that day was a ruined world. A world with no laws. Just take High End and remove every comforting thing and you will get the idea of how Low End works.”
"But, they deserved that."
"Sigh!" I was tired of hearing this but I still tried to maintain my composure. "And why do you think that? Were you present there when the Apocalypse took place?"
“Of course not. We have been told countless times that those people deserve what they are dealing with right now.”
“And what are the chances of it not being a lie?”
“You are telling me every single one lied to us?”
"It's not impossible. Either that or the history has to be twisted to make it seem like they were at fault. Who knows, we might be the true culprit and not them."
“That’s a lot of nonsense.”
“None of us can prove these statements, can we?”
I tried a different approach of reasoning with Sophia and it seemed to be working just fine.
"I felt bad for them. It just couldn't sit well for me that we are enjoying life and they suffer over some conspiracy since there is no proof to back up their statements. That's why I decided to go against the wishes of my father. Can you blame me for doing that?"
"You know, brother, you should have taken a look inside before you went and played justice outside." Sophia said with a very sad tone and expression. I knew what she was talking about.
"I regret that. It pains me to think that I never realized what you were going through. If it wasn't for Fina, I probably wouldn't have realized it. I regret not spending more time with Riccardo or Antonio. I failed as a big brother. I felt bad for them while disregarding what you might be going through."
Sophia's expressions told me she was probably expecting me to burst on her once again.
"I heard from Fina about you on the top floor after our encounter. I was totally at the fault there. It doesn't matter what you said, I shouldn't have raised my hand. I am literally the worst."
"So, what do you want now?" Sophia looked rather sad even though her head was down.
"I don't ask for forgiveness but the least I can do is to ask you to take a fresh start with me, like a real brother and sister this time."
I had a smile on my face. I caused so much pain to her so this is the least I could do for her.
“Father scolded me last week for not performing well on the exams. He said my only worth in the family is to get married to a high standard family. He said that if I could not even impress them then I am worthless. Moments like these are when I desperately seek you. Brother Riccardo and Antonio don't even bat an eye on me. I, I, I……. nfgh.”
Tears were rolling down her red cheeks. Man, this hurt me seeing her like this.
"I was really lonely. I tried to get attention in many ways but no one took notice of me. I am really sorry that I rudely talked to you that day. I didn't know how to make you notice me. I am sorry for that."
Tears kept coming from her eyes.
I put my hand on her head.
“Don’t say it like that. I am the one who should apologize.”
Sophia looked at me. My hand was still on her head.
"I am truly ashamed of my behavior. I am sorry for not realizing it sooner……but it's never too late. If you are willing to forgive me then we can have a fresh start. I will act as a brother that you will be proud of." I said that as gently as possible.
“You mean it?”
“You won’t leave me again?”
“You won’t scold me again.”
“You will forgive my rude behavior as well?
“Well duh! Of course, I do.”
Sophia paused for a second then replied in an extremely joyful manner.
“Then I forgive you as well dear brother. Let's take a new start." Tears haven't stopped.
Hearing that was really pleasant. I put on my forehead onto hers and gently grabbed her face.
“I swear I will never make you cry again like this Sophia.” Both of us had a pleasing smile on our faces.
I was glad I sorted things out with Sophia otherwise, there would have been no going after the ceremony. She would probably be in even worse condition after that. I thanked Fina for setting this up.
"Go, wash your face and ask Fina to set those hairs for you."
Sophia came back and she was still blushing. We never got a chance to have a casual talk before, or at least from what I can remember.
Sophia loved to read books so she was telling me about the most recent one she had read.
"It's an old fairy tale about a princess and seven small humans called dwarves written around 1812, I assume."
“That’s really old. Like centuries ago.”
"I know, right? But it's a really heartwarming story if you ask me.”
She was going on and on about the books and I was listening with a keen interest in it. She must have been dying to have a talk like this with someone.
“Master Nicolo, your father has arrived.”
A young butler said to me.
“Come Sophia, the show is about to begin.”
I grabbed her hand and went downstairs. The stage was set and the curtains had risen on tonight's big show.