Andromeda’s mother was crazy about tea. Andromeda himself never was a huge tea lover. In fact he hated it. Of course he would never tell her that.
Yellow Gold tea buds, Darjeeling tea, Da Hong Pao, Sencha, and Tieguanyin, were all on the dining table at that moment, along with an array of cakes and treats.
Most of which would likely go to waste.
Mother sat across from him. She put her cup to her cherry lips and sighs escaped from her. Ann silently watched.
She looked up and their eyes met from across the table, she smiled stupidly. Ann immediately mimicked her and soon there were two fools grinning at each other.
Suddenly she turned to her left and grinned at the door. She waved at it with exaggerated motions and squealed, “You didn’t tell me you were coming back!”
There was silence, but his mother seemed to be listening intensely, nodding her head and panting strangely.
Then she stood up, pulled out her seat, and sat on the one next to it.
“I was keeping it warm for you.” she cooed.
Her eyes seemed to be following some unknown figure. Darting left then right and then settled onto the chair. Obviously the invisible man had sat down.
She turned to Ann, there was an irritable expression on her face. “Why aren’t you greeting your Father?” she hissed, her tongue practically spitting flames.
“I haven’t seen you in a long time”
“Work must have been hard.”
“Ann! Don’t ask him tiring things about work, I’m sure he’s sick of it.”
“Haha You’re right…Sorry Father”
The stupid charade continued like this for an unknown amount time until…
“Honey! Where are you going?!”
“What do you mean a meeting came up?!”
“We’re supposed to have dinner as a family you damned bastard!!!”
Ann’s mother stood up. There was fury in her eyes and she picked up one of the tea pots and threw it across the room. There was the sound of shattering as it scattered into pieces across the floor.
Panicked Ann ran up to her, grabbed her wrist and held her waist, restraining her.
She twisted his arm frantically, her grip vice like. Tears cascaded down her face and she trembled and began wailing.
Soon after Jamie, Lisa, and some others came in.
Before he could blink Lisa had given his Mother her medication and she went limp in his arms, then Jamie and the others proceeded to carry her away. Likely to her bedroom.
Just as Lisa was about to leave Ann grabbed her shoulder. “Why is she worse than before? You said she was getting better!”
Lisa’s cold eyes stared back at him then she smiled, that fake smile, and said, “Her medication isn’t as effective as before, her hallucinations are becoming more frequent, her paranoia is at its greatest, she is deteriorating…but you’re around her everyday I’m sure you already know that.”
“If she’s not getting better shouldn’t we put her in a proper facility”
Lisa’s eyes narrowed “This facility has the best doctors, and is the best facility for her to heal, your Grandfather has already given her the best.”
“It’s obviously not good enough!”
“Why are you shouting at me?”
“Because you’re her Doctor!”
Lisa visibly rolled her eyes and coldly stated, “I have told you everything you need to know, if you have a problem with my treatment than I suggest you complain to my Boss, your Grandfather, and I suggest you let go of my shoulder now.” Lisa didn’t shout, but she didn’t need to. Her icy stare alone made the hand that gripped her shoulder go limp.
“If…If… you let me call Grandfather just once. I would complain, If he knew how bad it was, then he would let me live with him” Ann stuttered, “you..you’re the one not letting me use the phones.”
There was silence
Then Lisa sighed and bluntly said, “In my contract the terms state I look after your Mother, not you.”
And with that she left and yet again all Ann could do was swallow his frustration.
The wind cackled against the bedroom window, ratt-a-tat-tatt-ratt-a-tat-tatt, over and over again. Andromeda’s face was buried in his linen-covered-duck feather pillow. The pillow itself was damp with his frustrated tears.
Since his earliest memory Ann had always been in this house. He had been trapped here, surrounded by those black iron fences with their sharp tips, never allowed to leave or explore the world beyond. When he was younger he used to believe the words of the staff and his Mother. The world out there was a ‘scary place’ they would tell him. “The gates are there to keep out the danger. The cameras are there to make sure there are no intruders. It’s all to keep you safe.”
He used to believe that his Mother was the most amazing woman in the world. That she was the most beautiful creature in existence. Back then she wasn’t that bad. Ann guessed growing up makes you disillusioned.
He realised one day that he was being lied to.
It was because of Amanda. She was a local on the island and she would come every Sunday to tutor him in languages. She would teach Andromeda Spanish, Standard English and Creole. His Mother at the time insisted that it was essential for him to learn languages to grow with a well-rounded mind. Which never made any-sense, since she was also always telling him how ‘vile’ the outside world was, how she would never let him go there and be contaminated.
Amanda was supposed to teach Ann languages, which she did for her part, but she also taught him things about the world. She would bring him fantasy novels or sometimes newspapers, which at the time he valued more than gold. As long as he requested it she would eventually find a way to smuggle the items in.
The more he read, the more he learnt about history or love or politics, his mind and his horizons expanded. In Andromeda’s head he could picture the splendour of the ocean, he could see the lush greens of the Amazon, he could picture the heat of the Savannah. With travel writing he became the tourist in the beautiful cities of London, Paris or Tokyo. With Enid Blyton books he experienced friendship and traditional schooling, with Jacqueline Wilson’s stories he found himself the protagonist of dramatic teenage angst scenarios, feeling heartbreak or exhilarating excitement.
The more he read the more he understood the good and the bad aspects of the world. It made him realise that the disgusting ‘outside’ that Mother ranted about and the staff fed to him were mostly lies.
Then one day Amanda disappeared, all the books she ever gave him were confiscated, and they began to monitor him even closer.
Since then all his tutors were gloomy, boring and barely spoke. The staff in the house were never consistent, the only ones that were always present were Jamie and Lisa. Jamie he knew was the Housekeeper as well as the Nurse, one time he heard one of the staff referring to him as such, and he always helped out when Ann’s Mother was feeling ‘a bit ill’. When it concerned Lisa he had no idea, he believed she was a Doctor.
They were all directly hired by his Grandfather to monitor and ‘help’ his Mother, all of them were quite mysterious and cold. Lisa being the most mysterious. Sometimes from his window he could see her leave in a black car. Or late at night, when he was young enough to wander around the estate without catching suspicion, he would notice her conversing on the phone. Her tone would be impressively polite. Saying ‘Yes Sir’ or ‘I’m dealing with it Sir’, her posture and even her aura seemed submissive when she was on the phone to this person. After some time he guessed that the person was his Grandfather, the person his Mother would fondly tell Ann stories of all the time. The man that he had never met.
He got up from his bed. He’d been crying into it miserably for so long that he now felt sick. He walked to the bathroom and as he wretched into the sink he saw his reflection in the large mirror. His cat-like-green eyes, his curly black hair. In contrast to his mother’s normal pale green eyes, orange hair and refined features, he couldn’t help but think. “We look nothing alike”. Perhaps he wasn’t her child. Perhaps the reason they were keeping him here was because of his Mother’s illness. Maybe he was truly just a coping mechanism like some kind of teddy bear. They had picked up a random child and they were using it. He was just a doll in a dollhouse. It’s his purpose to be played with by his Mother. Why should a toy deserve any form of freedom…
It’s a negative line of thought, but with his Father being just another delusion in her mind it was a possibility nonetheless.
He turned on the taps and washed his face with cold water. Sighing he put on a white kimono robe that was decorated with red lilies, and walked out of his room. As usual there was someone standing outside. ‘She’s ‘different’ he thought. She was dressed in a long flowery summer dress, she looked like a native Dominican with her gorgeously dark skin and braided hair tied up in a bun. She respectfully nodded at Ann and asked, “Where are you going Young Master? Can I be of any service? I will accompany you.”
She observed him and he knew for a fact she was just one of the many monitoring him. He didn’t know why they did so but everyone in this house watched him carefully. Regardless of whether he wanted her too or not she was going to accompany him anyways. So he just walked past her and stated “I am going to the library”.
Oh that Library. he hated it. Don’t get me wrong, he absolutely adored books, Ann was a serious book worm, however he hated ‘that’ library. This was because it was a library full of lies. Each book had no pictures, no author written on it, just a bland title. Each book had fabricated contents. They would portray the outside world as war ridden like some crazy dystopia that George Orwell and Margaret Atwood would of conceived together in collaboration.
Even the maps were wrong, there was even an atlas that depicted the Earth as flat, warning how if young children left their homes they would immediately fall through the sky and into an icy death in the depths of space. Absolutely ridiculous, but at the same time terrifying. So terrifying that they would have the time to do something so insane. And you know what is even more scary, it’s that Ann would have believed all of it if he had never met Amanda and realised there was something really weird about his home.
There was no internet here (well at least none he had access to), his daily schedule after waking up was eating breakfast and then the tutors would come; teaching Maths, English or their fake History and Geography lessons. Ever since Amanda disappeared, during these lessons, his Mother would stare and watch him very intensely. Then after that he would entertain her. He would talk about his day (as if she hadn’t been monitoring the entire thing), they’d water her flowers, or sunbathe and relax. Then there would be the long awaited tea time that always occurred really late in the afternoon, practically dinner.
At one point in the day Mother was likely to experience some form of episode, and during that episode 5/10 times she would take it out on him, verbally or physically until the staff calmed her down. The other 5/10 times it was on the ‘invisible’ Father.
That had been Andromeda’s routine for 17 to nearly 18 years of his life. So you can understand why he was slowly being driven insane. There was no way out. He wanted to stop playing this dumb role. He wished deeply for something to just happen.
He walked in silence to the library. The staff member following behind him like some mindless Zombie. When they got there he stared at the impressive row upon row of encased lies. The only good thing about this place was that it served as the only decent distraction from his worries and boredom.
The woman shadowed him as he went to the ‘culture’ section of the library. Just as he picked up a random book he heard the sound that would change his life forever. It was a peal of laughter, very loud and passionate. It was the most exotic thing he’d ever heard. It was hearty and deep. It resonated throughout the quiet library.
In a household like his genuine laughter was very rare. It made Andromeda feel excited, happy and terrified.
Startled, he ran up the aisles, practically sprinting, so much so that when he came to a halt he could hear the wheezing breath of the staff member behind me. But he didn’t care about her, he cared about him.
He was wearing a tropical sky blue shirt that was buttoned all the way to the collar. It was tucked into a pair of beige long trousers. The clothes weren’t tight but against his lean and muscular frame Ann could easily make out the outline of his build. His shoes were black and immaculately polished, so much so that Ann could see himself reflected in them. The Man appeared clean and tidy. His skin had an olive like tan to it and his hair was wavy and shoulder length, some of it was neatly tied up at the back. He was holding a book in one of his hands, whilst reading it his face was smiling to the point that you could see the laugh lines prominently around his eyes and slight humorous tears were about to fall out of them. At that moment he seemed like the most genuine person Ann had ever met. He envied him, he wanted to know him, he was like a butterfly in a desert.
Ann stared for perhaps over a minute and observed as the man placed the book back on the shelf and then turned to Andromeda and that Woman. He gave a sweeping bow. As his brown eyes stared up at Ann he stood straight, and that was when Andromeda felt a strange creepy feeling of danger.
“The library is restricted to the tutors and the Mistress and Young Master. I don’t know you. Are you authorised to be here. Show me your ID!” The staff member beside him suddenly piped up. She walked in front of him and outstretched her hand to the strange handsome man.
However he didn’t comply, he laughed at her, but this time his laughter was icy. Then from 2 meters away he was suddenly behind her in a blink, and using the back of a black object he smashed it against her head. She dropped.
It happened so quickly that by the time Ann was capable of feeling any form of panic or doing anything she was already on the floor. That black metal object that Ann couldn’t identify had its cold muzzle against his forehead. He didn’t know what it was at the time, as he’d never seen one in person, but he feared it all the same.
He later found out it was called a gun.
As he held that gun up to Ann’s face Ann could only stutter ‘Yyyyyy….you’re not a staff member’ and the man laughed again.