I was Born the Unloved Twin
Father is a surprisingly skilled artist, especially in architectural and design drafts.
Seriously he's so good, what the hell? What's with this hidden talent? Was this where Lilyanne got her art skills from all along?
What a revelation.
After a lovely dinner of rich summer fare with refreshingly chilled veggies soup, and politely answering a lot of excitable questions, father whisked me off to our lodgings to rest.
Since there's no way his reason and protectiveness would allow me to stay by myself, we shared a room reserved in the town hall. It's not particularly large or fancy but it's the safest place here and has everything we need to work.
I'd say we worked and discussed throughout the night burning that lamp oil, quite literally. Until I passed out early that is...
I usually sleep early ok! I'm a toddler!
When I awoke it was well late into the morning, the sun already high in the sky. Father must have let me oversleep and left to attend to business. He's nowhere in sight and I'm tucked into bed so neatly, unlike my usual sleeping posture.
In fact, I'm tucked very tightly, like a little burrito.
I really didn't notice anything, I must have slept like the dead.
Surprise surprise all the doors and windows are so thoroughly locked and boarded that no one could possibly get in, and in no way could I get out.
A note in father's stylish cursive confirms what I already know. He's off to attend to some matters and will return quickly so I should best behave and stay till he gets back. Yes, I know the drill.
Thankful he left me breakfast on the desk.
It's some sort of plain rustic crepes, goat cheese spread and fruits I recognize from the ripe summer fields. Yummy, summer fruits are really sweet!
Can we bring some of these back? Especially the cherry plums, they're all good but I always had a weakness for sweet and sour things.
First, they're sour, then they're sweet. That taste is irresistible and you don't get tired of it at all!
I'm content to have a lazy restful morning, traveling is still rough on my current body and I do love a good nap. This isn't exactly home and I still pretty kidnappable. So I'm not going to risk my safety by sneaking around even though I know there are guards stationed outside.
Back to father's stupidly high spec art skills though!
While munching on a cherry plum bigger than my fists, I flip through the drafts he must have created after I fell asleep. Just from my rambling explanations and messy charcoal sketches, he's somehow worked out enough to ink out various blueprints. The illustrations, including close-ups of the wheeled mechanisms, range from waterwheels to mills, threshers, and yes even a hand crank butter churner.
Wow, he actually figured it out.
More butter for our kitchens I guess.
I suppose his intelligence and visualization are pretty praiseworthy here but look at that art! Seriously, he can draw! This is some professional quality work even in modern times, the inked illustrations and sketches look both functional yet beautiful.
I was never the artist but I worked with plenty of them very well. I know my stuff at least.
Feeling both motivated and petty at father's surprising skills, I doodle little vegetables and plants on the list of crop rotations he helped me format. One for each thing listed! Take that! no one can draw a carrot as cute as I can.
Out of spite, I may have doodled a few manga effects and commentary on the empty spaces of his blueprints.
I was mid drawing a minuture picture of him as a giant carrot being stupidly gaga over yesterday's butter churner when the door opened. Father stepped through the door looking like the disheveled leading man in a historical romance movie.
It's the plain low V of the neckline, the shirt is to blame.
You know the kind of shirt I'm talking about, the regacy shirt kinda, all loose and exposed at the neck and chest. I now dub it, 'the end scene Mr. Darcy', shirt.
It's actually a very simple outfit, a tucked slightly wet shirt, loose slacks, and a white brimmed sun hat. It is much simpler, bare almost compared to father's usual wear. No matter what though, he still looks like a dressed-down model rich boy, it's more than little scandalous really.
He actually looks quite hot. No, not attractive 'hot', a literally very sweaty kind of hot. He's an attractive person but that is not what I meant!
"You're finally up Chip! Do you want to get dressed and head out around the village? I don't think your mother will be too pleased if we stay out another night but since we're already here, might as well enjoy the rest of the da- uh I mean get as much work done as possible"
"Yes, good morning to you to father. Is that.... dirt on your hands?"
"Yes well, I wanted to get some more paperwork done while you slept but the locals are all busy harvesting the fields at this time. Early mornings are best to be out there before the day gets too hot."
"And you went along to farm?"
From behind him, father lifts a basket of still wet vegetables, obviously just washed in a stream. That explains his pulled back though wet sleeves.
"How invigorating, we saw the peppers and I snipped eggplants and zucchinis blossoms!Oh and the rice, the way the locals really beat those stalks!"
"You went without me!?"
"You were sleeping, best to let the dough rest. Why do you suppose they call them eggplants though, they look nothing like eggs?"
"....I'm not a ball of dough....and try looking at eggplants earlier in the year. Wait, I wanted to see the rice!"
"Well get on with it then, put on your day clothes and shoes and we'll be off again. I'm just back to gather some papers."
"Okay okay I'm already dressed just -ack you wash your hands too!"
I scramble off from the writing desk to clean my juice stained hands with a crepe, giving father space to gather what he needs. I'm pretty sure I hear a snort of amusement as he rustles his papers up and packs them away. I'm kinda busy with rolling up the remaining crepes and putting my shoes on. Coordination is still a little hard for me at times okay?
Slinging my bag, now full of cheesy crepes and fruit, over my shoulder I run over to where my father is waiting for me at the door.
"You didn't wash your hands." I huff. I have the soap if he needs it, oh that's right I wonder if I should gift some to the village heads as a sign of goodwill?
"No need, I'll just get them dirty again out here. We'll wash up before eating again alright?"
"Hmmf! Can't be helped."
I stick out a fruit and goat cheese rolled crepe at the man playing tourist farmer, since his hands are filthy. As expected he bends down and gobbles crepe whole, just like a goat or his own puppy horse. I don't know what time he got up but knowing father's usual work routine, it was before the sun even rose.
"Not bad" he chews and picks me to speedily walk down the stairs and outside.
When he does though, I zone out, or at least I think I do.
It's his hands that trigger it this time. Rough calloused hands, a little dirty and smeared with something black from work. Something so common and trivial and yet it's this thing that I focus on til I can't focus on anything really.
It's the same, it feels the same.
Suddenly I'm somewhere else, in a hideous pink polka dot dress. I'm wandering halls I vaguely recognize, following after a much larger figure. It's summer but the place is air-conditioned, my shoes squeak as I toddle along. The figure in front of me stops and lets out a boisterous laugh before bending down, giving me the attention I've been following after.
I don't know how I know this, I just do.
Those dirt-streaked hands didn't want to dirty my dress but I insisted to be lifted up and carried anyways. Sometimes they hurt, sometimes they're scary, but they're still....
"Rosalia? Rosa, are you still sleepy?"
"That's strange, you never called me that before.....it's not bad actually."
I caught that last part but barely.
I'm still being carried but the figure holding me isn't the thick hazy figure I just saw, it's my father. All amber haired and youthfully handsome. This tall foreign man with the surprisingly pretty art and nerdy questions over the silliest thing, this isn't who I meant to call out to.
But why did I even call out in the first place?
Did it happen again? Did I see another flashback to the life I lead before?
"Are you feeling alright there dear, you can sleep some more if you like?"
"No, I'm not tired- I'm fine."
I always am fine. But he readjusts me to rest more comfortably against his chest and pats my back soothingly with his other hand. It feels so big with how it essentially covers my entire back that I feel like I've been transported back into my childhood.
But I am a child right now?
"It's alright, we can take it easy today before going back home. We'll ride slower this time so you won't get sick."
I shake my head because that's not the problem. I don't even know what the problem is, just these odd zoning out moments when I remember something a little too deeply.
"It's okay, I like going fast."
"Well good, because so does Damask."
Father chuckles at that, his large hand still patting my back comfortingly. I don't fall asleep exactly but I rest half-consciously as he meets up with the scribes and builders in the conference room in the town hall.
Somehow he can sit there with a toddler in his arms and present his illustrated blueprints and plans to all these people without losing an ounce of awe and respect.
"These are marvelous!" one person praises after the bulk of the talking is done.
"Never have I seen anything like this!" applauded another.
"It's just like when Lord Ronald first came by as a youngster." reminisces an elder.
But it's the builders and craftsmen being commissioned that are looking at the drafts most intensely. It's the same look I see on my home cooks when I start them off on another new recipe.
"May we keep these as references?" asks a burly man in a bandana.
he's neither young nor old. Nothing about him is particularly memorable but there seems to be a fire in his eyes, a look of intense determination. The others follow suit, the same sort of odd drive in them, pleading for the drafts.
Father shakes his dead and politely declines.
"I'd prefer it if your people would be able to copy this down, the original drafts should stay with me. They are drawn by myself and my rascal here."
"Of course, we wouldn't dare Lord Frederick! All rights belong to you, yes, in fact, write that all down. All of us in this room and the village are witnesses, that all these wonderful things were thought of and designed by you Lord Frederick!
Father smiles in that mysteriously vague way that often has people either trembling or questioning everything they just said. With the flair of a born and raised noble, he lazily waves him off with one hand and pats my back.
"Well, I wouldn't say all of them."
"Of course, a parent raising their child ahead so early on. What wisdom."
"My I suppose the little vegetables were done by the young miss. They're very well done for one your age."
"Of course, both of your names shall go down in the record, it's only right. What an adorable and talented little seed you have raised!"
"You hear that Chip, you're a good seed."
"....And you're the carrot."
Whoopie doo dah day, I introduce a whole crop rotation system and the concept of a water mill to upgrade this place, and they give me the credit for doodle veggies. I feel so accomplished.
Well, they're not my ideas anyway, I'm just regurgitating what people in modern times already know. Heck, even farmer's children in the rural countrysides already know this shit. It was a different world though.
Please improve the basic standard quality of life, please I beg of you.
Maybe, just maybe, you will all be less angry mobs later if you had more food and some public toilets! It is kind of hard to see these kind and simple elderly folk as an angry mob though. But hey humans are complex creatures.
Right Rosalia girl, let's not aim for fame or glory, don't mind it at all. It's best to fly under the radar! Innocent and safe, just raise some niceness points, get some more grains and be on your way.
Seriously though, did we get that rice? If I can't play with wheat for some time I want rice!
"Well Chip dear, you up for one last outing?"
"I'm up, I'm up, you worry too much sheesh."
" Worry huh?"
He pats my hair but doesn't let me down, how condescending. Huh, is my hair grow long again? What was once a Peter Pan-ish pixie but is now a shaggy something where the ends are beginning to curl around my shoulders again. I'm sure I look cute regardless with my genetics but short hair is really refreshing, especially during summer.
"Father, can I cut my hair again?"
"Why what's wrong with your hair now?"
"Nothing's wrong, short hair just feels good."
"Hmm, should I get a trim too them?"
That's up to you father, why are you asking me? Though now that he mentions it, his hair is looking longer than usual, it can even be tied back with a ribbon if he wishes.
"What if I grew out my hair long, do you think your mama would like that more?"
"Ehhh? Why would she? Were you actually growing it out?" I deadpan
As much as I don't want to focus on it, my parents are attractive people. Father is a full spec ikeman through and through even if he is a nerd.
"Just trying something new, you two do seem to very much like admiring men with long hair."
I look at him with a blank questioning look. When did that happen? Also I'm only two.
I'm not looking at anyone that way. Where did both mother and I oggle a man- ohhhh Gable.
Gable doesn't count, he's like a fairy or a celebrity! Gable's beauty is universal and for everyone to enjoy if you do happen to be blessed enough to see him. In fact, I tell father those worlds near exactly.
"Hmmm do you think me very silly then, to grow my hair out for that reason?"
"Very silly, you can't win. Don't be gross and go cut your hair father."
He almost looks offended, just almost.
"No one can copy Gable, shorter hair suits you better so it's fine okay. You look more dashing that way."
"Yeah, like when you part it over sideways. Oh and you can leave the front long! And-"
Besides father looks like a legit nerd, a little like a college student, with the shaggily longer hair. It's settled, we'll both get a summer haircut today. It was a bit of a hassle because it seems every farmwife in the area had heard and wanted to have the honor of trimming 'Lord Frederick's hair. Well that's awkward.
For father's safety let's just ask the local barber.
Technically there are no professional barbers in a backwater town like this. But this old knife smith is a professional with a razor and he seems to be on good terms with both father and grampa. Ah, I really don't think he's a simple barber or knife smith at all. You can't be normal if you know grampa.
"Well then Freddy, whatcha in for today?"
"A trim if you don't mind, for the both of us. I suppose my daughter here is calling us gross."
"How short ya want it?"
" Yes, what is the appropriate amount of short to be 'not gross.'?"
"Eh, I can pick?"
"Err, Freddy not that I don't think you and your brat are terribly cute but I don't recommend letting kids pick your cut."
"Can you do it like this?!"
"Well then, how about we make it fair. If you pick my hair, I pick yours. Sounds like a deal?"
"Do I still get to have it short?"
"Depends, probably. Your mother might throw a bit of a fit but it doesn't bother me if you like short hair."
"Are you two always like this?" the old man chuckles.
I'm a toddler, anything looks cute on me. Worst-case scenario I just go bald and grow it back out. I could be like those cute little baby Shaolin monks. Oh that actually sounds kind of fun, I could paint a blue arrow on my head and everything, too bad no one would get the reference.
Right now though I'm turning the red regal look into something a little more modern. Father has a good looking face, slim and tall in profile though much sharper than Gable's. He does tend to hide one side, the one with his temple scar, more than the other. Alright then, don't worry father, I won't make you look horrible!
Maybe just a little chicken like but you can pull it off!
I don't have a paper but the old fake barber gave me chalk and a slate. That does a much better job than drawing in the dirt.
"Huh, a little funny but I think I can do that. Well, Freddy, you asked for it."
"Do I even get a look?"
"In a few minutes, you can look all you want when it's on your own damn head boyo."
"Hehe in a few minutes father!"
True to the fake barber's words, in 10 minutes he's finished with hardly a stray hair out of place.
"What! No, wait this actually looks good!?!"
I was going for a chicken like hair! To be more exact, since father has that ikeman face, I was going to go full visual kei on him. Something a little more absolutely hilarious.
But the medium-length side part turned out making him look not like a chicken but a golden era Kpop star!
What is this is? He doesn't even need to dye his hair, it's already the fashionable shade of auburn and has perfect volume. No no no I want a refund and I didn't even pay anything!
I'm only two years old, don't make my heartbeat over my own father, that's disgusting!
"Oh, not bad at all Chip. It's certainly different but I think I could quite get used to this, the breeze on my neck is rather nice. Haven't felt that in years."
Oi! Stop admiring yourself in the mirror! This is not fair! I am angry over the lack of humiliation here! The lack of chicken bangs! How dare you look like a teen idol in that style?!
"Stop being gross." is all I can get out.
I guess it can't be helped, good looking people look good in anything. It's a shitty rule of the universe. I can only hope the good genes translate well in me.
"I quite like it actually, shame you think it's gross still. Oliver?"
"Alright then Freddy number 2, up you go."
That's fair, it's my turn. Wait who is Freddy #2?!
Anything short is fine as long as it's not too ugly, otherwise, I rather shave it all off. Father turns to the faker barber and gives the order with a heart-poundingly dangerous smile that is both sadistic and fond.
"Give her the same thing."
Ehhhhh?!?! Matching hairstyles! That's as gross as it is lame, hey wait not the chicken hair! That can only look good on a certain type of slim face, wait no! I'm a mochi! The face of a ball of dough, I'll actually look like a chicken. Stop it, no! Noooooo!!!!!!
Author: (Do you feel conflicted? Do you see her beginning to drop her guard and fall a little in more in love with this family?
And yet she can't forget what happened before so it feels fake. She can't really love them bc she knows better. But this is the worst part- just like with Lilyanne. She can't help but do so anyway.)
I wrote that part sleep deprived....isn that a little too spoilerish?