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  1. #136
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    1,709
    I remember the day Crisostomo first came to us.
    I was 8, he only four months younger. Elian must have been 14, Lucina 12, Iuliana 10 and our youngest, Nevio, was just learning to walk. Growing up I always thought there must have been something wrong with me, given our parents had paused the steady growth of their family after they had me, but much later I realised this didn't have anything to do with me at all. It was about Crisostomo. She needed time to forgive him for having him.
    He was small, was the first thing I noticed. I knew he was my age, I had expected him to be my size, maybe taller, as I had grown up in fear of those living in what we called the grey district, brutes and drunks, beggars and thieves. In fact he was more scared than any of us. He was 8 and his mother had just died.
    He looked like father, I couldn't help but noticing. Not sure why, but I felt bad for seeing it. Maybe I thought that if he didn't, I could have ignored who he was, could have pretended he was just anyone, a kid like me who happened to stay with us, instead of the dishonour he was, the stain on father's reputation that had almost cost him his marriage. But he looked so much like him. More than any of us did, in fact, as if he were the legitimate heir and we were the mistakes.
    I was at the door with Lucina to let him in. I didn't realise at the moment, but it had been quite a touchy subject who'd greet him. Sending the lord of the house himself seemed too much like an acknowledgement, but father was against sending a servant, and mother wouldn't have gone if her life depended on it. That must have been why we were chosen. The second son and a daughter. Part of the family, sure, interesting enough to be mentioned at the fancy dinner parties with other highborn citicens and military officers my parents attended, but not so important anyone would expect something of us. We weren't the ones destined to make history.
    "Come in!" my sister said in a cheerfull tone, almost sang it. "You must be Crisostomo. Do you have anything with you? I'll show you your room. Dinner's almost ready. My name is Lucina. A servant will get your belongings and take them upstairs for you. Are you hungry? There's also a bathroom, but you have to share it. You're 8, right? Someone should comb your hair before dinner. You're not allowed to touch the books, only those in your room, they're yours." She was so excited she could hardly hold on to a coherent thought. "I don't think he can read", I wispered, unsure of why I was afraid he could hear me. It was no shame for him to be analphabetic.
    "We also have other toys. Little soldiers and horses and I think there's coloured chalk, you can draw with it on the pavement in front of the house, except when there's guests, then only in the backyard, because father wouldn't like them to see it. Best don't do it at all. Change your clothes and give the old ones to a servant to wash. Or don't, you'll be given new ones. Can I call you Cris? This is your room. You'll know dinner's ready when the bell rings."
    "No", he said. It was the first thing I ever heard from him, and the last I would for hours. "My name is Crisostomo."

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