FEW YEARS PRIOR.
,,Mommy..." Dale calls, from the muddle of clothes that wrap him as a blanket. ,,Mommy, are you still here?"
I turn my head in his direction, awaken from my trance by his brittle voice. It can crumble any time, but I am here. There is no need to lose his voice.
,,Of course, darling." I rub my thumb on his silky skin, leaning my face closer so he can see my smile.
I know there is nothing to calm him more than my smile and all I want is Dale to be calm.
,,Where do you think I could run? Hm?"
,,Next to daddy..." Sadness add an unpleasant tension to his voice. ,,Is he sleeping?"
I nod, resting my palm on his cheek. Power sizzle in my veins and I feel like time is coming sluggish. Time to give it all to him. Now, I do little steps to it.
Every night, just a little gram more of it, and soon, he will grow to be the light of this world.
,,Yes, sweetheart, daddy is sleeping. He is tired. You know he worked all day."
Darkness separate us, but I know my son too well to be fooled by it. Now, as every time when we have this conversation, he tapers his lips and frown deeply, gathering a little more strength every time to postpone his tears.
Perhaps Darrow truly serves a purpose in our lives, after all.
,,Maybe tommorow he can come and kiss me for goodnight, as you do, mommy."
,,Dale..." I softly suck my teeth to him, shaking my head in a faked disapproval. ,,Daddy always comes to kiss you for goodnight. You are just sleeping."
,,When?" Dale asks me, a light version of the rage that will come later bouncing from him. ,,He is always sleeping or at work!"
,,Sometimes, when daddy sleeps, he realizes he forgot to do something and he wakes up, comes like that..." I move my index and middle finger on chest, mimicking a walking. ,,And kisses you."
There are many things I lied about when I had to cover Darrow's back, but this one, quite frankly, is not a lie.
However, from the strain rising in air, I can sense that is still not enough.
,,I just wish he would come when I am awake, too. It's hard for me to believe you, mommy."
,,Hard to believe me? What's with these words, Dale?" I flatten the cloths around him, as a caress meant to fill the holes Darrow left behind. ,,When did I lie to you?"
I pinch his cheek, smiling to the darkness, expecting at least for him to sense that I am here. With all my spirit. All my soul, all dedicated to him.
He might be too young now, but soon, all the sacrifices I make will be worth it.
,,But boys are always talking about daddy."
,,Of course they are talking, my haemanthus bud, your dad is a hero. Aren't you proud?"
His voice regains a grain of energy as he says:
,,Yes, of course, mommy! But..."
And that energy is once gone, leaving even my caress useless and barren in front of the sadness that plunges outside.
,,But they are always saying how much they wish they could go and drink with him."
,,Drinking is bad."
At least a lesson as little as it I can give to him. And at least Darrow can help me to solidify the roots of a better future, through the minimal he does.
,,But he is drinking. I am worried for him, mommy. What if he will...get sick?"
So much fear, all stored in such a little package.
The same minimal builds a bad that can always interfere with my intention, of building from my son a man. A wise man.
,,Daddy will not get sick."
However, pain is a hungry monster like no other. It can sharpen, with the same blade it slashes, and with years no one will ever give back to me, I realized that the same blade that cuts through Red's skin, it's our slingBlade.
,,It's true drinking is bad and you know mommy doesn't want to ever see you drinking. Else, I will be really sad. Do you want to make mommy sad?"
And it doesn't even take a moment for him to plunge from his place, with the heat of heart, all specific to his age.
,,Never! Never, never, never!"
He gropes in darkness for my hand and, as the help I will forever be in his life, I pull it closer to him. When he seizes it, he squeezes it through his still yet frail fingers.
Soon, he will be old enough to work, and these fingers will not look the same.
,,Mommy will never be sad! I promise!" He detaches one hand from mine and, as he always does, proud and shiny, he taps his chest with his little fist. ,,I promise!"
I giggle, ruffling his flock of curly hair.
,,Good. You know all mommy wants it to make off of you a true man. Someone bright, wise, powerful and...courageous. Don't you want to be a true man, Dale? Doesn't it sound so beautiful?"
,,The truest man!" He laughs, reverberating through the small hole we call a room.
Once, it seemed so big.
,,If you are going to listen to me, which you are going to because you are a smart boy..." I say, as he nods full of effervescence. ,,Yes, then you will become a true man."
I smile, with no happiness in it.
Now, he is too unripe to sense the difference between a true smile and a fabricated one, and I let it be.
He is too young and I am not merciless.
,,Even greater than daddy."
The door creaks. Even as little as that sound is, I can still sense it and I am not surprised - not even in the slightest.
I know there are sinful ears that listen at every corner in this tight world.
,,And, if you are truly going to listen to me.'' I whisper to Dale, leaning to him. ,,You are going to give a new definition to the word great. You are going to be a revolutionary. Everyone will love you, my sweet haemanthus and everyone will look at you and say ,,What a true knight.''.''
,,Knight as in stories with...?'' He stops, looking around with the fear his father and grandmother implanted inside him - insensitive monsters. ,,With Golds, mommy?''
,,Just as those knights.'' I smile, taking his hand in mine. ,,Or even better. These mines never saw a knight before you to be born, but remember, Dale. You can't become one if you don't listen to me and, if you don't, then you will become just as those sad Reds you see drinking and getting sick. Do you want to get sick, Dale? Do you want to leave me alone?''
Dale's eyes sparkle.
,,No, mommy.'' His little fingers clasps my hand. ,,I will never leave you alone, mommy. Never.''
I am not happy with my tactics, but they left me no other option.
,,I knew I have a good son.''
If it will be someone to blame, it will only be them.