Written for Father's Day.
It is ridiculous. And melodramatic. But I just had to write it.
And I guess it's the first time I've cried while writing.
Because both amazing men deserve to have left something behind...
Excuse my attempt for awful French...
She watched from inside the window as the little boy kicked his ball on the street, and she felt that familiar pang on her chest she got every time she thought that Dominique didn’t have any friends. Surely, he was only four, but for no reason did she expect her son to easily blend in any kind of social circles even when he grew up, considering the fact that he was a seamstress’ child, born outside marriage, woefully lacking a father.
Musichetta had to finish Madame de Courfeyrac’s cape. She considered herself incredibly lucky to have a job at such hard times, and she was only thankful to be able to provide little Dominique with the basic. For Dominique was her world. He was the redemption of the life she had lost. In his melancholic green eyes, already eyes of an adult even though he was tiny, she found everything that had once cruelly abandoned her. She adored her child with every cell of her body and every fiber of her mind. He would raise his little hand, so warm and alive, and their fingers would tangle and it would feel like Their own fingers wrapped against her small hand. Her son’s touch would remind her that she was alive and unburied, breathing, unlike Them, he would remind her to go on and bring her back to reality: Musichetta hadn’t gone down with Them, no matter how much she wished she had sometimes. Musichetta had a reason to keep trying and breathing and working and smiling, even though it wasn’t always easy. His own smile that lit those wonderful eyes up would make her heart celebrate and ache at the same time, it was Lesgle’s cheerful smile, the one of an unlucky man who always kept finding charm and happiness around him, he was the unlucky man who comforted others instead of mourning for his own sorrows. In that very way, a boy of four could sometimes comfort a woman of twenty three with just one toothless smile, and make it possible for her to keep trying to pass the thread through the needle.
It would become so hard sometimes, for the hole in the needle was so thin and the tears that filled her eyes blurred her vision, but she needed to finish her work soon. And when the boy would rush in the room and see her crying, his own lower lip would tremble and he would sit on the floor, beside her skirt, put one thumb in his mouth and hug his knees with his free arm. And his worried, melancholic eyes would always remind her of Joly and she’d put her sewing aside and raise the child on her lap. She would stop crying, she would calm and collect herself. In Their relationship she had always been the strong one, when apparently Joly and Bossuet turned out to be the strongest ones in life. But when in their bed she would always cradle Joly on her chest every time he would panic or feel insecure, and in that very way now she held her child and comforted it.
Despite his occasional moodiness, Dominique was such a smart little boy, thin and frail but incredibly brave. He would always bring small kittens to their small room, reminding her of Joly’s adoration for cats, and she’d have to explain patiently that they didn’t have the money to keep all of them. They already had Moustache and he was more than enough, a fat orange cat which Joly had once brought as a gift to Musichetta, a small kitten then, with a red bow tied around its neck.
Dominique would climb on trees and return with blood dripping from his knees, still laughing, that stunning high pitched sound which brought birds singing in her aching heart, laughing like Bossuet, every time he’d clumsily fall and hurt himself, driving Joly to hysterics. And even though she denied it, the roles had been somehow reversed. She would be the one to feel quite hypochondriac now; she would put the tiny boy on a chair and clean his wounds and scold him to the point he would weep and plead for his Maman to hold him and stop shouting, and then Musichetta would regret it and start weeping herself, before pulling him on her lap. Every time he would get sick as a baby, she would stay awake by his bedside, her heart pounding every time he stirred in his feverish dreams, cautiously watching him breathe. And at those nights Their absence was even more painful, for she could imagine Joly taking care of his son, a skilled medical student as he was, and calm, when it came to helping other people in need. And she could never prevent herself from imagining. The first time she had held the tiny bundle of a baby, peacefully sleeping, long eyelashes and a dark tuft of hair on his fragile head, the first time those microscopic fingers wrapped around her thumb, she couldn’t help imagining Joly holding the same baby, afraid not to drop it on the floor, Joly as a father, Joly caring and fretting over everything, Joly watching his son growing as she did, always anxious and always smiling, and always willing to teach. She couldn’t help imagining what a perfect father he would make, how beautiful he would look with his son, how much he would care and how many hours he’d invest to him. Joly always had a smile on his face, he would die for revolution, he would die for freedom, he would die for his friends and maybe for her. Joly most definitely would die for his son, or maybe he would try very hard to survive and not leave him alone.
And at many points she had imagined Bossuet. Bossuet and his noisy laughter, Bossuet holding the baby and succeeding to dropping him, causing Joly to go into frantic cries. Bossuet teaching the child everything, Bossuet playing and making jokes with Dominique, she couldn’t help imagining it every time his childish clear laughter echoed in her ears. She couldn’t help imagining what Bossuet’s optimism and good nature would have offered to this boy’s raising.
She never stopped wondering whether something would have changed, had she told Them both earlier that she knew she was pregnant. How would They both have reacted? Would there have been a chance for Them to think a second time before going to the barricades?
No. No matter how much it had destroyed her and torn her apart, she knew Their purpose very well. And she knew that They wouldn’t rather have it any other way. In their very own way, the Malade Imaginaire and the Unlucky one were the Revolution, and they weren’t truly gone. But with flying away from her, they had given her the role of the Revolution. She was Revolution now. She was a single working mother, a strong, independent woman who would give the best she could –and even more- to her child, and she would let him make his own decisions.
Dominique could grow up and be ready to save the world. She wouldn’t have the right to stop him. Dominique could grow up and not want to change anything. She would still love him equally well.
Not long after her baby had been born, she received visitors. It was a young couple she had never met before. They introduced themselves as Cosette and Marius Pontmercy. They had offered to help her raise the child, financially. Cosette was with a child as well, and it turned out that Monsieur Marius was a baron. She had fiercely declined any kind of financial aid, and Cosette then pleaded to help her find a job. She could not decline that. Monsieur Pontmercy’s family knew many ladies of the upper class who were searching for a good seamstress. Then the couple pleaded her to at least accept their friendship.
She had been suspicious from the first moment and eventually she had been proven right. Pontmercy had been on the barricades with Joly and Bossuet. He had confessed that one morning, when he had visited to bring some of his childhood clothes for her baby. He had given her a sapphire ring, saying that he couldn’t bring himself to do so until then. He had said that Joly had bought it for her to apologize for their fight, on that day of June. He had probably been intending of proposing to her.
Musichetta had fallen ill with a fever for a month after that. She was delirious and kept falling in and out of consciousness. The doctors had been afraid they’d lose her.
They were there in all her dreams. They were there, holding her hand, laughing together, buying her flowers and reciting terrible poems. They were there, trying not to eat her food, for she was infamous for her culinary skills, then putting up with her bad moods when she realized. The three of them barefoot, sitting by a lake, with their hats off, the three of them strolling in the streets of Paris, bringing food to the poor, the poor who didn’t seem to mind her poor culinary skills. She dreamt of comforting her men, of holding their heads against her breast, against her beating heart and never letting them go, never letting their own hearts to stop beating.
And then she dreamt of those days when the three of them embraced on Joly’s bed, of their tangled limbs, their heated skin and their pressed lips together, the days when bodies entwined and they fell asleep, a mass of legs and waists and arms, wrapped together in the cold nights of the winter, those moments when she felt more alive than ever.
And she dreamt of them again, she dreamt of the sight of their breathless bodies, bloodied and dirty and muddy, she would never forget the taste of tears and gunpowder in the air, the destroyed barricade and the blood… So much blood… The feeling of emptiness and quiet sorrow and ripping her guts at those horrible, humid June morning.
And all of a sudden she woke, healed, and asked for her child. Cosette appeared to have taken very good care of it and of her. Another month later, she became his godmother at the baptism. He got two names: Dominique, after Joly, and Thierry, after Lesgles.
Musichetta truly didn’t know whose son Dominique really was. The signs sometimes were impossible to overlook. He had Joly’s build and expression: this bizarre mixture of melancholy and cheerfulness was undoubtedly inherited by him, so did those green eyes. But then again, he had Bossuet’s character traits in every single reaction, he had his clumsiness and his optimistic aura, he had the same mouth and jaw…
Musichetta ignored the traits. Sometimes there were some that overdid the others, and she couldn’t be any more certain that the child was Joly’s. Some other times she could only feel that she was holding a miniature of Bossuet, full of life and hope. But even then, she stubbornly ignored the traits. After all, everyone around her agreed that Dominique had taken so much after his mother, therefore it was particularly hard to understand what his father was like.
But she didn’t want to know. Because in Dominique, she saw both Dominique and Thierry and she needed this more than she needed oxygen.
One day, Dominique ran in the room where she had been sewing, with a huge excited smile on his thin face. “Maman, maman!” he had pulled her skirt, “I found papa! I found him!”
Her heart had stopped. What could he possibly mean? She had followed him in the other side of her room where he had been playing without her paying much attention to him, and terror filled her veins when she was faced with the open chest at the corner of the room. “They’re papa’s aren’t they?” the boy had cried, excitedly, as she breathlessly stared at all the clothes she had been denying for three years, clothes thrown out of the open chest, waistcoats and trousers and shirts, underclothes and hats and man’s shoes. All Their clothes, all Their lives spread upon her feet, with a laughing child running between the fabrics, probably convinced that he had found a way to meet his father, and that now that he had solved the mystery, he should only wait for a tall, strong man to appear through the doorway.
She went pallid and weak. She fell on her knees, completely silent, her heart pounding in a grave, mourning rhythm in her ears. She couldn’t weep; she couldn’t breathe as her fingers trailed circles on the fabrics, the leather and finally two bloodied tricolor cockades.
And then, all of a sudden, she turned around and smacked the toddler on the face.
Dominique had only received love and tenderness from his mother. It was the first and last time she had ever hit him. Her face had been terrifying. A pale, stretched mask of marble, surrounded by frizzy auburn locks. The princess of his young, innocent life had become a beautiful, cold witch.
He had run away, crying hysterically. She was unable to chase him or act maturely in any way. She wept, surrounded by the clothes.
She founded him asleep on the doorway, curled in a tiny ball. He appeared to have stolen something. Bossuet’s favorite cap was on his little head.
She had carried him inside and tucked him in bed. He had opened a sleepy eye. A toddler of three years could only forgive his mother very quickly. He only needed reassurance to do so. “M’aimes-tu encore?” he had asked in a trembling voice.
She had placed a million kisses on his straw-like hair –Joly’s hair-, on his eyelids, on his pointed nose and his soft cheeks. “Je t’aime pour toujours,” she had whispered in his ear. “Tes papas aussi.”
He had fully opened his eyes, in curiosity and muted pain. “Mes papas?”
“You are special, Dominique,” she had told him. “You are not like other children. You don’t only have a father: you have two.”
“Two, maman?” he had asked, his eyes opening widely.
“Yes, two. They are with God, but they love you even more over there. They watch you take care of Maman, and they are very proud of you. You are so loved, Dominique. You are three times loved,” she had taken a deep breath, “your papas were incredibly brave.”
“Like knights?” he had asked breathlessly, lost in his very own fairytale.
“Exactly. They were knights, and I was their princess.”
“Did they fight dragons?”
“They killed all the dragons, and they saved many innocent women, men and children.”
“And why did they leave?”
“God saw how brave they were and he decided to take them by his side, to make them his angels so that they would help him save the ones in need.”
Dominique found it difficult to understand, in his three years, why God would take his papas from his side. “But why can’t I have them? Why didn’t God leave them to me?”
“They can watch you better from the sky, Dominique,” she had smiled, swallowing a salty tear, “they can love you better.”
From that day, Dominique went everywhere in Bossuet’s cap. He told the children his age, and the old ladies who asked him in the market, that he had two papas who loved him even better. He never listened to anyone who told him that was impossible, or that his Maman was sick in her mind.
Dominique wanted to become a doctor.
When he’d grow up a little more, Dominique would get a sapphire ring.
Last edited by IBelieveInYou
on Tue Jun 18, 2013 4:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Then I saw their trembling features warp and, gradually,
Their foreheads turn pale and dissolve in front of me,
And everyone, like a stream that flows into a sea,
Became completely lost in a dark immensity.
Victor Hugo, The Slope of Reverie