|||||In My Arms (Rufus Wainwright)||]|
Fandom: Billy Budd (opera)
POV: Billy's father
Summary: Alrighty, so I thought I'd post my first fic for Billy Budd. It's just a little backstory on Billy's parents and Billy himself.
Veni Scripsi Vici
The handle of the basket is nestled in the crook of one of my elbows; my little boy’s head is nestled in the other. I tried to carry him in the basket, but it jostled the poor thing too much and he started to cry. Poor little thing… Only twelve days old…and his mother only two days buried. Oh, Bella, my Isabella… For so long, I’ve dreamed of having a proper family with her. Now, as soon as I’ve had it, it has been taken away. She bravely fought death for days after she gave birth to our son. I was at her side the entire time. Even while fighting it, she knew she was dying. The day after the birth, she reached out, took my hand, and whispered, “I know someone who can help you. Both of you.” She knew. She was facing her death, even though I couldn’t.
There was a man, she told me. An older gentleman who had known her father. A rich gentleman who would surely help us. “Just tell him you were little Bella Hart’s husband,” she said. “He’ll remember me, he will.” The name, she said, was Mr. Walter Budd.
I couldn’t think of it anymore, so I muttered, “What’s his name?” while staring at the floor. I always keep my eyes to the ground when I can’t bear to face a conversation.
“Walter Budd. I just said – ”
“Not him.” I looked up and then she knew what I meant.
“Oh – ”
“You wanted to name him yourself.”
She smiled. The smile was weak and sorrowful, but brave. “His name’s William. Middle name’s yours.”
I couldn’t help crying then. I don’t know why.
Now, my wife is dead, and I pass through the streets of Bristol with my William in my arms, searching for a large white house where I’ll find a Mr. Walter Budd. I plan to abandon my child. Such a horrid word – abandon… But I must. I’m poor as it is, and cannot work and care for a child alone. I have two other options which I cannot even consider to be options. An orphanage is no place for my boy, not with how children are treated there, and I shudder to think of what happens to those little boys who are sold to chimney-sweeps.
No matter how much Isabella insisted that this Walter Budd would surely help us, I can’t seek for the man to help me. I won’t be a burden. I’ll not force upon anyone the responsibility of looking after me, for I should be able to look after myself, and it isn’t just money I require. Since yesterday, I have been developing a cough, and it’s growing worse. I don’t want to fear the worst, but… I may have to. As I said, I won’t be a burden. This Budd doesn’t need the trouble of looking after a sick man. It is my son that needs looking after, so I shall find his home and say goodbye.
This brings me to the doorstep of a large white house. Kneeling on the stoop, I slide the basket from my arm. It’s one of the few fine things that we – I own. Inside the basket is a note that reads:
My dear Sir –
Care for this child as if he were your own. My wife passed away following his birth. I am poor with no other family and I have no choice but to entrust him to you. His name is William Alistair. Last name does not matter. I regret I have no money to give you for your pains.
– a desperate man
Cradling my son in my arms, I rock him one last time. He looks up at me with sleepy, innocent brown eyes and I feel a quiet sob choke in my throat. He’s such a beautiful boy… I pray that he will possess the beauty of his mother. I hope that he possesses her courage as well. I don’t want him to catch whatever illness I may have, but I can’t bear it, so I allow myself a quick, gentle kiss on his forehead.
Let him go, Alistair, I have to tell myself until I finally lay him in the basket and tuck him into the silk blankets. Looking at him for the last time, I whisper, “I love you, boy,” then quickly stand up, pound the brass doorknocker, and flee from the house. Once I am off the front path, onto the sidewalk, I start coughing again. I try to get far away from the house, but I’ve barely taken ten steps on the sidewalk before the coughing tightens my chest and a wave of dizziness forces me to lean on the low fence and lower myself to a crouch. I sit there for a minute, coughing heavily, until I regain my breath and balance. As I stand again, still supporting myself on the fence, an older man comes through the gate and turns to me.
“Young man,” he inquires, approaching me, “did you see a man hurry away from my house?”
My tear-filled eyes are turned down. I can’t look at him. “No, sir.”
“Are you alright, young man? You’re terribly pale.”
He puts his hand on my shoulder and I immediately pull away and start walking, muttering, “No, sir. I’m fine, sir. Thank you, sir.” I draw my coat in around my trembling body as I walk, staring at the ground. He never follows. I never look back. Thank you, sir.