Chapter 79:

CH 79: Plays Itself

I was Born the Unloved Twin

Remember all the times I was all 'oh Rosalia was such a silly girl, how was she ever afraid of that nerd of a father'? Well, I remember now, I really do.

Homewoooooooork. So much homework.

Yes, I recall now just who hired all my disasters of tutors in the last life. Just who was the parent that thought it was not only ok for an elementary-age child to have 10 hour daily lesson plans plus extracurriculars. The one who initially struck so much fear yet a need to please that young Rosalia basically became a workaholic who lost her childhood to nothing but lessons.

Ah, and another thing.


It's just a bad piano, a very very annoyingly pitched piano. What is this thing and why do I even need to bother learning anything? It's not worth anything to me?! With my tiny stubby little toddler fingers, I can't even reach and press all the keys. There's no pedals and no tone?

Even tiger parents from the modern era don't force babies this young to start learning instruments!

Piano lessons don't start till at least pre-school and at least the piano doesn't have such disaster high keys! It has to do with struck strings vs plucked strings yeah yeah I still hate this thing.

Did the original Rosalia have to learn the nails on a chalkboard piano? Actually yes, yes she did. It was fine art that was made psuedo mandatory by all accomplished people of a certain accumulated level of wealth and social status. If Rosalia Therese Ventrella could not play the standard harpsicord, then what would society think!? What would they say? It was unacceptable not to know.

Did she enjoy it? No, no damn way. It was painful and messy and my ears, her ears, were always hurting after the end of any practice, more so than my fingers. Even on days she messed up more and the 'tutors' abused small fingers red, raw and bleeding.

Did Lilyanne have to know the harpsichord? Nooooooooooo, she sang and played the damn harp. Like some generic angel in a painting. How fitting.

I hate the harpsichord, no no no. I am not playing this awful thing again! It sounds terrible and there's no way I can replicate what I can sing in the shower out onto this stupid extinct piano.

"You have very strong feelings about the harpsichord for only hearing it a few times."

"Father. I hate it. Haaaaaaaate it"

"It's an instrument made of nothing but wood, bits and string Chip, not a monster."


"I can see that."

I am trapped between father's lap and two layers of dark keys attached to some very annoying strings. I hate this death trap to my ears. It's so awful there's no way I can think clearly let alone recall any nice melodies. Each and every pluck of the strings, no matter how skilled the player, sounds to me like the yowling of fighting street cats in a metal trash can.

Surprise surprise, my father can play the harpsichord. In fact, he can play many things, which explains how he even knows how to copy down my lullaby into actual notes. Neeeeerrrrrd.

The harpsichord is a stationary instrument and decorative statement piece to anyone's home. To be fair he was born and raised from an old and respected family line. It would be odd if he didn't have a few of those 'typical' rich people hobbies and skillsets that's suppose to display class and refinement. Aka neeeeeeeeeeeeerd.

But seriously. A rich guy that likes to draw, design things, play music and all other sort of mundane things? Who let this obviously liberal arts student go to business and law school?

Where was this sucker hiding in my last life? How did he make prime minister? What the hell?

But I guess that's only in this lifetime. Rosalia of the past hardly saw her father unless it was time to report her progress on lessons or accompany him to certain relevant meetings. A normal child would find these very boring events. However, the original Rosalia was always on and eager to please, despite her nerves.

It's very odd, the differences between this life and last. Differences I can't seem to explain.

Father was never touchy in Rosalia's memories unlike now where I've been swung around and trapped a lot. The most she got was the rare head pat or an approving nod when she made suitable results. Rather than praise, she was encouraged to study and work harder.

Which actually isn't so different from my own childhood?

School, cram school, tutoring etc etc. There wasn't much time in a day to breathe, let alone just be a kid. There was summer vacation but even that gave way to prep. school. It got even worse when my parents first separated because then there was nowhere to go but school.

Ah, no way! My precious second chance at childhood can't be lost this soon, or is it third? Either way noooo I don't want it! I don't want any more harpsichord lessons! Or anything that will waste my precious time.

"Of course it sounds awful if you press the keys like that."

"Every sound from this thing is awful."

"Now now chippy, that's just because you haven't hit the keys at the right moment. When one does, then the instrument might as well play itself."

Wonderful advice father, yes just hit all the right notes at the right moment. Suuuuuuure. Even without facing him, he must feel my eye rolling just radiating off because he chuckles.

"I don't expect you to magically know how to play the thing, Rosalia. But I do need to match and tune whatever comes out of your mouth into an actual instrument and there's no better standard than the harpsichord."

"Go play the harp then. At least that sounds better."

"The harp my dear is a lovely sounding instrument for any occasion because even beginners and fools can pluck some pretty notes. "

Did father just burn the harp? I'm too much in shock. That's Lilyanne's favored instrument! Your precious angelic child's!? I mean he doesn't know yet but what? And he sounds so petty about it too.

"Oh don't get me wrong Chippy. The harp is extremely difficult to play well, but it's easy to play with. Many a good harpist get injured quite often on that thing, plucking and switching fingers directly. It's the listeners that's the problem. "

As father gets up slightly, I'm lifted with him till I'm standing on the seat. From this angle he reaches over the exposed strings, strumming some chords in a lovely little pattern.

"The strings have life to them.... go ahead and pluck one, gently. "

Since the strings are looser than that of a modern piano there's no fear of it snapping with a brush or a touch. Besides, I don't think the father is letting go of me till I do as he says. So I do, one two strings at random.

"Doesn't it sound nice? That's all people want sometimes, something that simply sounds nice or suits the atmosphere. That isn't music, but merely noise. What does the sound create though? What is it composed of and what does it means- that is something not asked enough."

I nod my head, understanding a little more than half of his intentions.

From Rosalia's experience, the harpsichord was just noise. Even if I memorized notes and knew them to be songs. They were noise I had to play to prove something against the other girls and if I wasn't the best at muscle memorizing those keys, then there was hell and disappointment to be had.

I played like a trained monkey.

Lilyanne played....I don't know how to describe it. She had a gift in more ways than just one or two. They say that the sound of her harp alone could reduce a grown man to tears.

I don't know about the validity of that statement given her crazed fanboys but I do know that her playing was very beautiful sounding, much better than anything I could do even with hours of forced practice. Of course, they were different instruments but the point still stands. One was actually music, the other nothing but empty stringy noise.

The metaphor and comparison to our lives doesn't hurt me. It just is. Like how the sky is blue.

"Would you rather start on the harp? For when you're a little bigger and able to play? It is good because one doesn't get too discouraged early on." father takes in my silence and leads with a question.

Of course, I don't want to play the harp! I'm not putting myself in direct competition with the artistic Lilyanne! That's just rushing myself into future social suicide a bit faster.


"But you said it sounded nice, beautiful even I would assume."

"Yes yes it's very beautiful but I still don't want it."

"Do you like it though?"

"....Honestly father, no. It is very beautiful and I still don't like it."

Even without Lilyanne's influence, it's not something I would be interested in. Just not my sort of thing. It's more than enough just to hear the strumming of Lilyanne's practice fill the halls and drift from the windows.

It was always so soft and gentle- never any halts, stalls or repeats.

I remember being jealous, because her fingers never stung, never bled. One would think by playing strings with direct contact, she would have a harder time. But her hands were always so pretty, never swollen like mine were.

"That's due to your own negligence! Mistakes, full of improper mistakes!" rings a shrill voice in the archives of my memories. It would be followed by the sharp sound of something thin whipping across palms and fingers.

The hands are some of the most sensitive parts of the human body. The amount of pain a child feels is often ridiculed since even the smallest thing can be the worse physical would they have ever experienced.

I don't want to be abused by those awful 'tutors' again. Personally, I don't want to see any of them again. Getting hurt for no reason, no gain is not on my agenda. Not again.

I swear music and etiquette were the worst but history was quite up there as well. Rosalia's hands, her feet, growing up they were always injured and in some stage of healing. Bandages covered by lace gloves and prettily tied booties.

It was painful. Those memories are mine now, have been for quite a while. The sting, the constant ache and pains that simply cut and wore bone deep over time. It makes sense really, where Rosalia learned how to lash out. It was the most touch she ever received from others. When she wasn't being obediently ignored and forgotten about, she was being...schooled.

"Why is it only 93%?"

It's stinging, my palms are stinging and I'm trying not to cry. But holding it back only makes it worse when you're a child.

"Why is it so low?"

"It's still an A mommy. The teacher says that's good, As still are the highest grade."

Another smack of the stick, but this time against my bare calves. I grit my teeth because if I waver this early on it will only get worse. They come in succession, 3 more swatches.

"For talking back to your elders! Disrespect. "

"Yes mommy."

"You don't understand, just A is not good enough. 93? That is A-. you need A+. Even then it's not good enough for others. I just do what is best for your future."

"Yes mommy. I know. I'll listen. "

"Look. 96% here in History, English is ok but only 98% in Math. You are so close! Just two more points and full 100, you need to not play so much and try a little harder! The neighbor's daughter is so smart, her mother brag to me about how she got 100% in Math and English. Do you know how embarrassed I felt when I tell people I send you to tutoring?"

More than the stinging pain it's the shame that courses black blood through my head and chest. It's terribly heavy and might as well be laced with mercury. Shame at myself, my own lacking. If I just tried harder then I would be enough.

But I keep falling short, always.

Something is wrong with me, something is broken. I can't function like other little girls. Nothing goes right and I am not right.

Another swatch at my legs and I can't control the hiccuping wail. I panic because I can't cry, I'm not supposed to cry because that will only get me hit more but I can't stop. Like a pressurized volcano with no other exhaust vents, I'm an explosion already erupting.

"Stop crying."

My legs must be bleeding because I feel something wet drip down through the burning. They wobble but I need to stay standing, hands obediently in view. But I can't comply, I can't stop crying, not just from the pain. I'm so frustrated, so ashamed.

Why can't I ever do anything right?

If I wasn't so messed up, if I was smarter and better behaved would my mom and dad not have fought so much? Would they not have divorced and things still be easier?

Of course not, because nothing I do is ever enough, I am not enough.

"Stop crying! Other children have it so bad but here you are going to school and having good food to eat. It's so shameful for you to cry, you have no reason to cry. "

I know! I know. I'm in the wrong. I'm wrong. I'm sorry but I really can't stop and the more you discipline me the more my body naturally cries. The marks on my calves must be deep at this point, I won't be wearing shorts for awhile.

"Stop crying."

Another whipping swatch to the legs and my knees finally give.

"Rosalia! Careful there."

"Huh? Father?"

I'm still at the seat of the harpsichord, about to tip off and over the bench if it weren't for my father's quick hands around my waist. All of a sudden it hits me that I am still two years old, small and soft, at the most vulnerable but simplest time of my life. Things like gate classes, honor rolls or standardized testing to higher education aren't even a thing here. What small blessings.

"You have made your distaste for music and instruments in general quite known Chippy but there's no need to jump from them."

"Ah yes, no. I mean, my legs just felt...weak, a cramp. I got a cramp in my leg."

"Really now? Both of them?"

Long fingers poke and prod at my chubby little legs after seating my snuggly on my lap. In smooth circular motions, they lightly massage at the ticklish soft flesh. It makes my twitch almost painfully and Father incorrectly believes he has found the source of my 'cramp', focussing his ministrations on that spot.

It hurts, it really hurts. Something inside me hurts and it's not my legs. Maybe it's my ears from the stupid harpsichord. My brain is all confused.

My parents loved me, so they hit me. If they didn't love me, they wouldn't care enough to bother. They were doing it out of love, they were teaching me. It's normal, It happens to all children. I shouldn't cry after all this time. Shouldn't have cried in the first place.

The man in front of me right now is not really my father. He is oddly kind to me in this life but he is not my father. The daughter that he should have cared for, should have loved, he never did, and she is as long-dead as I have been alive.

I almost feel bad for tricking him, just almost.

"Don't touch anymore, it hurts." this gentle touch surprisingly hurts more than any disciplined whipping.

"Does it now? I'll lighten up then. How's that Chippy?"

He does not stop massaging my little legs for any residual cramps, rather his touch becomes even lighter. His hands looking terribly large and calloused against my unblemished knees and calves. All of him is large, or rather I'm too small, for my entire body is encompassed in the shallow of his lap.

I don't know why I have to fight the feeling of crying. There's no reason to cry. But I have obviously always been this sort of weak person, and the feelings are heightened in young Rosalia's body.

"Hmm what could have caused it? Children get all sorts of aches. Have you been eating properly with your grandfather and Gable? Hmm yes certain nutrient deficiency can cause spams. Does it still hurt? "


"I'm fine."

Father makes an indulging smile at me that looks upsidedown from my angle. Being it's his day off he didn't bother with any hair gel or formal wear. So auburn red locks fall easily, tickling me as they brush when he inspects my legs closer.

Don't be so gentle with me, you're wasting your efforts. I rather you hit me too, so I can never forgive you for it. You're not my real father so I don't have to forgive you for it. Just like those tutors.

I'm not an idiot who confuses abuse for anything else. What my tutors did to their students was pure physical abuse. There's no excuse, even if you want to use the context of this backward world.

I'm just hoping to avoid any public flogging or other bad reputation stains this time around. I understand myself and Rosalia well enough to say we are both the very petty sort. Petty and with some tendency towards violence. Blame grampa for that.

"You are feeling alright now, right?" examines father, feeling my forehead for any signs of a fever.

"I told you I'm fine! Father, can we stop for now? I don't think I can think of any nice lullabies or such songs anymore."

Now that's an odd concept, asking for mercy, a break. My tutors would have had my ear for that. Ah, what a conflicting feeling. I never want to see them again but I also want to pay them back in a much more satisfying way than a mere beating.

Contrary to my expectations, father does not insist on squeezing whatever he's plotting to do with my stolen songs.

"Of course dear. There's no need to get it out at any particular time." father nods agreeingly at me before tidying his notes. Oh the note sheets.

"Do I really have to take harpsichord lessons when I'm older?"

"At the very least the basics yes, and that only if you find another instrument you wish to specialize in. As a woman especially, you can't be without proficiency in at least one musical art form."

Even if I huff, it's absolutely true. People would be more than happy to attack at such an obvious social weak point. Especially my particular type of's all a bad social-political play. What a headache. I see why father is riding off to the farm and construction projects so much rather than stay in court any more than necessary.

"Fine. I understand. It's an important weapon to use as a noblewoman. I guess I can just ask to learn something else later...."

"You're not just any noble Rosalia."

"I know I know I'm a northern queen candidate, fiance to the stupid rock prince. If I'm not up to standards the court will tear me apart." I yawn, oddly tired.

"That's one way of putting it," hummed father with a tinge of amusement, "but no, that's not your most difficult title. That was one you were already born with. You are Rosalia Therese Ventrella, firstborn to the Maria Hellia Ventrella and grandchild of the Ronald Ventrella. That alone is a tall order to fill."

"That it is father, but I find you're not including yourself in that list on purpose."

He brushes his hand through his hair, effectively moving it partly to the side in a dashing manner. Then sighs, he has the audacity to sigh as that very same hand brushes over my head of hair right after.

"I don't understand this part. You have the same face, physically it's the very same face...."

There's only person he could be talking about here. Lilyanne, my twin sister yes. That's the whole thing about being born twins unless you're fraternal. Rather than sassing him and interrupting him I just squint my eyes and glare. I get it I get it, I'm not as cute, that's already obvious. Geeze I hear it all the time already just never directly from my family.

"You're twins...yet you're the unlucky one that takes after me. Ultimately you look and act more like you know what that means Rosalia?"

With both hands, Father rumples my head and hair to a mess. It would make a normal child dizzy but I've been through far worse with grampa, and just shenanigans all around.

"It means I have more of your stupid carrot hair genes and mother is very upset about that?"

Father chuckles again and his hold on me stiffens in some way. The air gets oddly stale, a shiver of lingering fear rises from my spine. It's familiar, tastes like the fear the original goods had. More nerves and anxiety of her reception than an actual fear of the man himself but fear none the less.

Father smiles and it's perfect. A K.O. to the hearts of any maiden or unsuspecting business associate.

"It means, oh apple of my eye, that when people look at you they won't just see your honored mother or grandfather first. They'll see me...and they'll still see Bicchieri."

Will they? Will they really? Father kept us as far away as possible from interacting with his birth family. The elder Biccheris didn't see me much as anything besides a useless pawn while the younger generation found me a business rival, at best a blockage to their easy path to sweet naive Lilyanne.

I highly doubt something as simple as some red hues to my hair color will change much.

Besides, after I turn 5, after my second baptism, what will it matter. Ventrella, Biccheri- I'm something all the more unique than that. Famous equal to Lilyanne's blessed dawn.

Father sees my grimace and takes it as a legitimate concern towards his words. He doesn't know the future sentence about to be placed on my head.

"Don't worry Rosalia..."

That's another mystery I should delve deeper into. The animosity between father and the family we do not quite speak of, or to very often.

"Why, because you'll keep them away? Keep people from talking."

"As much as I can yes, but that won't be what will protect you best. As an individual of any worth ought to know, the best protection is strengthening yourself."

Somehow that makes me shiver something worse than Tamera's drills. Worse than any exercise aches and pains.

Rosalia remembers, no, I remember the too complicated game of high society. A decorated battlefield between tea parties and balls, involving everyone and their connected properties, including the people working under them. It's disgusting, it's unnecessary, and it is the twisted blueblood pride of the wealthy with no other dignified profession. Too much time, money and high horse egos to gamble.

"I'll make sure you're ready against them....Know that. No matter what they say in whispers, what schemes or verbal weapons they use. You're beyond them, with nothing to fear or shame, as a lion has no heed of the pathetic sheep. You, my child, will always have the last laugh."

I gulp and the awkward fear I'm feeling must be showing on my young face for father only keeps smiling in that pristine charming manner of his when he's not running his mouth. That's the thing, his polite poker face will never break unless he wills it himself. Unless it's in private around mother, he never loses himself nor his image.

"The harpsichord."


The man I call father in this life readjusts me again, giving himself more room to stretch out and make himself comfortable on the bench.

"I admit, it makes a grating metallic sound of the mechanisms, rather than using hands to pluck the strings. It's not an easy thing to play at all and it's even more difficult to play something that even passes off as well enough."

Is he saying that the vaguely threating talk about high society is over? All parts of me are saying that's not the case.

Grampa is confusing. He is an absurd powerful enigma half playing a fool with the other half legitimately dipped in the insanity that is just him. Mother is seemingly simple but overwhelmingly influential and oddly scary, everyone in the troops and household staff would agree.

Father's hard to say. He's a politician? A skilled one with so many cards and tricks up his sleeves, hidden by whatever face he wishes to show. Lately, though, I'm learning more and more of them, faces and cards.

I don't know what to make of them, only that this family gets stranger and stranger the longer I look.

The only one I can truly say I know is Lilyanne. The only one I can fully predict is Lilyanne, know just exactly how she will hurt me.

It does not hurt when father scoots the bench chairman just a bit, to press us closer to the keys and sit up in a proper position himself.

"This thing is indeed a sharp bulky instrument, on certain keys, it sounds like scrapping bones with a sword, not a ounce of flesh left. But it is a well crafted standard for any fine event or fashionable household to have. Tune it well, time it right...."

His hands, piano hands I notice, reach out on either side of me.

"And the instrument might as well play itself."

Before I can make sense of it, noise assaults my ears until it's no longer noise but music. I can't seem to see my father's hands, they glide and move too quickly. Though I am trained in music in two worlds he's far too quick for me to keep up.

It makes me dizzy but I can't look away nor turn off my ears of all things. The shrieking cats in the trash are nowhere to be heard. It doesn't like any harpsichord I've ever heard, any instrument even. What are these nuances? How? How is it an entirely different thing in father's hands?

A confusing melody that is not easy to repeat and even more difficult to play. Up and down, somber then darker still despite the regal sound. It's as complicated as the natural state of this world then breaks like air. Soft, playful, like the steps of a fairy before cascading into destroying the keys in beats I was mistaken as my own frantic heartbeat.

This cannot be called classical music, can't even be mistaken as it.

If this was played on the modern piano it would be impressive but nowhere near as striking, cutting. If it was an organ it would just be dead terrifying. Discordant repetitious music played from a violent dance of 10 fingers and 120 keys. It was made for this. This can only be as heard as a solo piece.

Tears have long escaped down my face and my heart is in my throat by the time the song finally ends, almost abruptly as it started. I have no idea even how long it's been, for me to be enraptured by that performance. I'm still dizzy, from the whirlwind of a song or something more, I'm not sure.

Enthusiastic applause plays from somewhere. In my head, in the background from a peeking mother, Alfonso, and maybe our not so hidden staff.

Those crazy hands stretch themselves, then return to being a part of my father.

"Ah, still got it."



Frederick's harpsichord Inspiration: Jean Rondeau recording 'Vertigo'.

Look it up if you want to hear what I was hearing for this scene. His take makes the harpsichord sound like something else almost. Very breathtaking.

I do a lot of mental background in building each aspect of my characters. I really wish I could just be 'and MC was very good at the cat trash piano'. But no. Learning any instrument is torture and the pain of it must be highlighted. A simple not that simple chapter today, it is up to you to read out of it what you will. 

Thank you for reading in the first place.