One Day

Frida is what Mr. Otto called Marigold. He was displeased that Mona had given her a different name, but rarely called her by her real name, Frida. Her actual name was Aprodite, but Mr. Otto shortened it to Frida and sometimes there was confusion and she was called Friday. Mona fabricated many things that seem to tangle fantasy and reality and Marigold couldn’t tell them apart. She recalls the many nights she was pretending to be asleep while Mona entertained a friend or two. They would take a peek in her room and Marigold could hear Mona telling her female friends how she found the waif abandon under a bridge, or that a basket was left at her front door, or how she ran away from the circus and chased Mona to the train station begging her to take her away. Marigold was beginning to believe she was never born.

Marigold wasn’t sure about her age and adopted various names Mona gave her, but Marigold was always Marigold, that she was sure of. Marigold lived an uncertain life, she never knew where they were going to go next, where they would settle, where their new home would be. A new adventure awaited for them around the corner, Mona would say, as they rarely established a permanent home. Mona was unpredictable in her ways, and when Mr. Otto came into Marigold’s life she found stability. But Mr. Otto and Lucille were not Mona. Mona loved life, and smiled in rain or shine. But sometimes a storm brewed and Mona spirits were dampen and she would fall sick. It was Marigold who took care of her during those unkind days. Mother and daughter, became close and though Marigold/Frida loved her father, she loved her mother the most.

One day, something different happened on the boat. Mr. Otto was smiling, something unusual. Lucille was sitting on the deck with him by her side when a short, stout Irish women appeared with a baby. The woman was impassive and spoke rather quickly and short, sort of like the servants on the boat that attended to Lucille. The woman didn’t dare to smile and barely noticed Frida standing nearby. The woman had handed the baby to Lucille who held it for a while before impatiently, handing it back to the women when Mr. Otto intercepted. Mr. Otto held the baby proudly in his arms, and called out to Frida to come forward. She obeyed. He sat down and showed the baby to Frida.

“This is your baby brother,” Mr. Otto said.

“What’s his name?” Frida asked.

“Max,” Mr. Otto said, “You will need to take care of him. You are his older sister, and as his older sister you will need to protect him, and be a good sister to him. You will love him unconditionally as I love you both the same way. Give your little brother a kiss.”

Lucille cut the moment by telling Mr. Otto that it was time for Belinda to take the baby away. Frida kissed the baby as did Mr. Otto and handed the baby back to the Irish woman. Later on, Frida understood why her father catered to Lucille. He had married her a few months before the baby was born and Lucille was now his common wife. Mr. Otto had been married twice before, but never to Frida’s mother as Mona had departed before she was born. Marigold also learned that Mr. Otto had two failed marriages and five children. It was comprehensible why Mr. Otto was trying his best to make the marriage work with Lucille. But it was obvious Mr. Otto had the propensity to choosing unsuitable woman. But that was none of Frida’s business and did her best to not displease her father. He had enough on his plate.

But Lucille hadn’t made her peace with Frida. She was displeased with her and saw her as a spoiled child, out to ruin her plans. What drove Lucille nuts was the napkins. There was something about those darn napkins that had to be whitened, starched, ironed and folded in a certain way. Then neatly piled and stowed in the lower cabinet in the dinning area and if they were not there exactly as how Lucille instructed it made her blood boil. But, the napkins had been misplaced and when Lucille found them they had not been ironed and folded. Lucille immediately blamed Frida for hiding the napkins. But Frida didn’t hide them, it was Cecilia because Lucille had demanded this and that, taking her away from finishing the napkins. Cecilia tried to intervene but Lucille wasn’t listening. Cecilia fetched Mr. Otto, but when she returned it didn’t make things better for Frida.

Mr. Otto was happy that Frida had caused Lucille to be discomposed and sided with Lucille, since Frida was unable to explain the napkins. For being unruly, Mr. Otto did what he had to do and gave the child her first larrup, something Mona never did. Mr. Otto was really a generous and kind man, especially with his children. He sided with Lucille because that’s what parents do, and children shouldn’t come between them, lest the peace between them becomes uncertain. Frida didn’t disagree with her father and simply accepted that life was not easy.

Frida tried to be ruly for the sake of her father, but the more she tried the more Lucille blamed Frida for everything. Frida, had never felt her courage shaken and her confidence plunge, along with her smile. She mistook a step to the left and Lucille would act like a bear with a sore head. She ate with the wrong hand, she slouched in her seat, she made that sound and move that way, Lucille was there to reproach her. It made Frida feel uncertain. Frida kept her head down and simply complied, while Mr. Otto noticed his daughter’s demeanor. His hands were tide and simply said nothing.

It all came to a head when one day, Lucille lost it, and graced her hand across Frida’s face. Mr. Otto was there to witness it and he finally went off the deep end. There was no need to strike at his daughter when she was doing everything that was asked of her and to do it behind his back, without a purpose, it did not sit well with him. Only he was allowed to punish his daughter, but he had enough and raised his voice for the first time at Lucille, and she didn’t back down. Cecilia took Frida away from the scene that only grew louder and louder. For the first time, Frida wanted to go home, she missed the peace and laughter that Mona provided. Cecilia stayed with her until Mr. Otto showed up and comforted his daughter.

The next morning, Lucille left the yacht with her belonging and a few of the staff. Mr. Otto seemed unhappy. He dismissed everyone on the yacht and for the rest of the week it was only father and daughter.

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