Alchemist Gift – Fausto rapes Amelia
Alchemist Gift continued: Amelia blushed. “Thank you, papa.” She shrunk back slightly.
Fausto fought back a grimace at her use of “papa” and coaxed her back with a smile. “Now, now you mustn’t be afraid of me or shy away if I say nice things to you.” He continued to wipe away the smudges. “So, you like living here and to make me happy, yes?”
Amelia humbly looked down. “Yes.” Her voice was soft and small.
Fausto let the handkerchief fall and took Amelia’s head in his hands. In an unforgivable and irrevocable rush of bravado he pulled her toward him. Amelia lost her balance and fell forward onto Fausto. Fausto pulled her body against him. He felt her soft breasts roll against his chest; he lost himself in a sea of her warmth, of her scent, of her youth, her hair, her skin, her mouth, her lips. Fausto kissed her again and again on her parted red lips, and her cheeks and forehead, even her frightened eyes.
For a long few seconds Amelia couldn’t imagine what was happening.
When she did she try to wiggle free, because of her awkward position, stooped over and half lying across Fausto’s chest and with her arms held fast at her sides encircled by his surprisingly strong arms, she could barely move. She tried twisting her shoulders but he only tightened his grip. She wagged her head from side to side to avoid his hideous attentions. With all of her strength she pushed with her legs towards Fausto tipping the chair back past its balance point.
To Amelia, it seemed like an eternity for the chair to hit the floor. Fausto hit the back of his head and his left shoulder on the tiles. They rolled out of the chair and ended up next to each other on their backs. Fausto let go and felt the lump on the back of his head. Amelia tried to get up but Fausto’s hip pinned her dress to the floor. She propped herself up on her elbows and looked over at her surprised and angered father-in-law.
“Papa, what are you doing? This is not right.”
Fausto saw that Amelia could not move. He rolled over on top of her making sure to kneel on her dress between her spread legs. He leaned over her and pushed down against her chest with his left hand. “Fate has brought you to me. That same bitch Fate who took Beatrica away has brought me you.”
Amelia squirmed. “But Papa I am Farintino’s wife, I am your daughter.”
“You are a woman, and you live under my roof.”
“Please let me up. Please stop now.” Amelia’s heart was pounding and her eyes began to tear.
“I’ve heard how you tease the men at the market place. The way you walk around this house, like you own it. You think you’re so pretty and smart. You don’t fool me.”
Amelia said nothing. Her silence drove Fausto deeper into his delusion. He ran his thumb roughly over Amelia’s lips. “You think you’re so pretty don’t you? So pretty that you can make any man do whatever you want. You and your lovers; ah these cowards who leave their love letters at my front door before the sun comes up. You bewitch them. You bewitch everybody. You think you can use your beauty for whatever you want. ”
“I don’t think I’m pretty, that would be vanity. I’m just a girl, your son’s wife. Please papa, please stop now.”
“Vanity? If it wasn’t for vanity we would have nothing.”
In the darkest moment of her life Amelia felt Fausto’s hand slither under her blouse and roughly cup her breasts. At that moment she stopped being Amelia. A calm coolness engulfed her being. She did not resist. She closed her eyes. She could hear only the beat of her heart.
Fausto’s hands eagerly explored and exploited the sacredness of her still body. He was surprised when she did not move when he clumsily pulled up her dress and underskirt away. She felt the raw shock of the initial penetration and she felt the weight of his body on top of her, but the sensations were distant, mechanical, dreamlike. In this cosmic limbo, this place between reality and the surreal, Amelia found herself floating, floating away from this tragic circumstance towards a place and time that did not yet exist.
When she opened her eyes she was cradled in clouds shimmering with golden light. She looked down on an immense coastal city with so many buildings and houses and roads, so many roads. A thousand thousand specks of different colors silently moved along those roads so far below her. She saw enormous silver birds silently soaring in the sky beneath her. There were great ships, without sails, making their deliberate paths over the green sea. She saw a long arching bridge that connected a slender silver isthmus to the bustling shore.
Amelia felt a jolt. A perfect little girl appeared next to her. Amelia could see nothing but the beautiful and illuminated face of this little girl.
The great city below disappeared along with its buildings and houses and many roads. There were only the two of them; joined together by surging tendrils of shimmering light that coursed between their eyes and their fingers and minds, hearts and souls. The communion between the two was so warm, so deep and tranquil, so complete and loving. This wonderful feeling poured through every cell of her body, and she never wanted to quit the moment.
“Cover yourself, girl!” said Fausto out of breath. At the sound of his words Amelia returned to the moment. She looked up and saw Fausto standing over her, tucking his shirt into his pants. His wizened face was flushed. He looked down; he felt a mixture of self-loathing and disgust for her. “Not a word of this to anyone. Do you understand me?” he hissed.
Amelia did not answer. She mechanically pulled her under skirt in place and her dress down. She sat up and tucked her knees up under her chin.
“Well, do you understand?” Fausto snapped.
Neither Fausto nor Amelia imagined her answer. “What is done can never be undone. Nor should it be.” She said softly and thoughtfully. There was no fear, remorse or accusation in her voice. “I would like to rest now. The hearth can wait until tomorrow?”
Fausto said nothing. He could not get past Amelia’s glowing serenity. He was at a loss. Finally he spoke. “Yes, it can wait until tomorrow.” he said sternly, and then he added, “now…now leave my sight.”
“As you wish, papa.” With dignity Amelia stood and straightened her clothing. Not quite knowing why, Amelia stopped at the doorway and turned to Fausto. He glared at her and made an impatient display by angrily fussing with some papers on his desk. Fausto quickly looked away from Amelia and then just as quickly back again hoping for some reaction on her part. There was none.
Her nature would not let her treat him any other way than she already did, with daughterly love and respect. Fausto, obviously disgusted with her, pouted, crossed his arms high on his chest and frowned. Amelia turned away from his sad anger. She passed over the threshold and hoped what happened in that room would disappear behind her.
When she entered Farintino’s and her cramped room at the sunless back corner of the house Amelia knelt, made a sign of the cross and rested her elbows on the bed. She closed her eyes, bowed her head and recited the Hail Mary to herself. She repeated the phrase “…blessed is the fruit of thy womb…” With uncertain joy she began her new life.
From the moment Amelia left the room he hated her. He hated her because she did not try to fight him off, she did not cry, she did not become ashamed or afraid. He hated her because she did not hate him back. He hated her because she did not buckle under his will or need his good opinion. He hated her because Amelia knew her first responsibility was to the miracle that was growing in her and then to herself. He knew Amelia was lost to him and there could never be any forgiveness for her or himself.
* * * * *
Farintino was his father’s creature. As a scrawny child he was brow beaten and belittled out of his childish enthusiasm and curiosity until he meekly did what he was told. Fausto believed compliments and praise made one lazy and weak. The boy grew up under the critical eye and tongue of his father and a silent and submissive mother. All through his adolescence and even into his late twenties Farintino wandered in a wilderness of self-doubt and self-deprecation. Farintino was told so many times that whatever he did was never good enough that he took it to be his truth. He grew into a man without confidence, self-respect or ambition.
Even now, he still felt an icy prick when Fausto demeaned him or made light of him in front of Amelia or for that matter anyone who might be visiting be it customer, family or friend. Onlookers to Fausto’s cruelty were shocked or surprised but always kept silent. Fausto was oblivious to his son’s feelings and thought he was being clever and witty and it was just a good natured ribbing, a good laugh. Farintino laughed right along with the others. He did not laugh at the pun, the jibe or the barb that was at his expense, he laughed at his absurdity and the meanness of his life.
“The Andano family name must live on. “ Fausto announced to no one in particular. The unfortunate image that Fausto perpetrated of his only son as inept, unmanly and stupid made Farintino a poor candidate for marriage. After several attempts to find his son a wife from local and suitable families Fausto turned to a match maker. With her help and the desperate poverty of Amelia’s family eager to marry their daughter into a better life, Farintino resigned himself and fulfilled his duty to his ancestors and to his impatient and nagging father. Farintino had little interest in marriage and absolutely no desire to bring children into his hopeless world.
With the news of the coming baby Farintino was somewhat surprised. They certainly did consummate their marriage but with some difficulty, and not on Amelia’s part. Their love making was perhaps once or twice a month and this was at Amelia’s gentle coaxing. Farintino looked on his marital duty as just another opportunity to fail and disappoint. Now that Amelia was going to have the baby he felt differently about the situation and better about himself.
The wounds Fausto inflicted on Amelia and himself scabbed over and his attitude toward Amelia, though barely civil with Farintino present, was aloof and toxic when they were alone. Amelia held herself constant and would never counter Fausto’s coldness and snubs with the same. He questioned her silence to her face. He took that silence as some kind of unspoken approval of what happened. He told her so and how it disgusted him. She could have no other woman in the house other than his sister Prunella. She would not sing in his presence; she would not speak to him unless he spoke to her first. He forbid her to call him “papa”. She would address him as Fausto. Amelia’s upbringing did not allow her to call him by his Christian name, so she called Fausto “sir” on those rare occasions he did ask her a question.
She kept silent to spare her unborn daughter; to protect her unaware and powerless husband and to try to maintain some kind of peace between her father-in-law and herself. Amelia bore these burdens alone with only the strength of her prayers. She found solace and innocent happiness in her coming baby.
During the time between conception and birth Amelia and Farintino naturally became closer. This did not go unnoticed by Fausto. He heard his son and Amelia laugh together. He saw his son run his hand over his wife’s belly and they would both smile at each other. He watched them embrace. He listened to them share the details of their days.
One morning at breakfast all became clear. Fausto would court his son. It would be so easy to gain him as an ally with smiles and compliments. Since the unpleasant incident they ate in silence. Fausto no longer dominated the meal time with his sermonizing or end his harangues with: “now, am I right or am I wrong?” He would stare coolly at Amelia all the while they ate and give an airy sigh of disappointment. This went on at every meal until Amelia, unable to bear it anymore and in tears, excused herself and hurried out of the room.
Farintino started to follow his wife but Fausto grabbed his son by the arm and held him back. Fausto shared his worldly observation with his son loud enough for Amelia to hear where she stood right outside the doorway wiping away her tears. “Women, they get themselves knocked up and become impossible bitches until they have the little bastards. Then they forget all about the husband.” Fausto’s mocking chuckle was a sly invitation. Farintino hesitated for just a second but joined his father with an uneasy smile. Fausto gave his son a pat on the shoulder, “ah women, who wants to understand them…why?” Farintino gave his father a nod of agreement and without another thought continued to eat. The comment was punctuated when Amelia slammed the door to their dark little room. Fausto dismissed Amelia’s behavior with a smirk.
Then as if it had always been a matter of course, Fausto asked his son for his opinion on some such detail in the making of a hat. Farintino was dumbstruck and flattered. His father asked him his thoughts. Farintino cautiously gave his opinion and waited for the sarcastic slam. There was none.
Fausto began the habit of placing his hand on his son’s shoulder and pulling him in a little closer when they spoke, which was more and more often. Fausto made cutting remarks about some such townsman or woman and Farintino was invited to add his comments, which he did more and more often and after a while without Fausto’s encouragement.
Looking directly at his son, Fausto would be all smiles as he began the retelling of an old family story. As the tale was told Fausto turned away from Farintino and leveled the salvo of biting humor or the ugly moral ending of the story directly at Amelia hoping his words would find their marks. Farintino had heard these heavy and humorless stories many times before. With less and less forced gayety Farintino laughed more easily along with his father. Farintino realized he was no longer the brunt of the joke or acid observation. They shared hearty laughter at the expense of any and every one.
Amelia became the object of belittlement more and more often. Farintino did not counter these attacks. If he did, he laid the onus on Amelia to “not be so serious” it was “just papa having a little fun.” From then on Amelia would serve her father-in-law and husband their meals and eat alone either in the kitchen or in her room.
It wasn’t long before Farintino was entwined in the tightening coils of his father’s confidence. Farintino was giddy with his father’s acceptance. He saw his father in a new shining light. They stood together. Farintino’s armor of shyness and humility and obedience was replaced with the over-bearing righteousness of a recent convert anxious to please, praise and prove himself to his master. The toll of emotional neglect and abuse sloughed off and Farintino came into his own just as his father had hoped, a copy of himself.
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The Alchemist Gift is a book about the lives of people in the Renaissance and the alchemy that brought them together with its repercussions on our modern-day hero, Roland.
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