For two days Flavio left (ragazza) with her loving, careful cousin (poppet). Though depressed and a bit “out of it,” (poppet) cared for her younger cousin, her only surviving blood relative, more than anything else in the world. Flavio left his one and only darling niece in the hands of not just her cousin, but a family: Oliver, Francis, Al, Matt. All people he knew oh, too well— a unit of closely knit individuals as protective as they were strange. Flavio left his precious, fragile, only niece in their care for two days.
Only two days.
The blonde tapped his pale knuckles to the off-white front door of the little suburban home far out on the edge of town with a polite smile resting on his face as he waited for a response.
He rolled his eyes at what he presumed to be laziness on the half of the home owners and knocked again.
Still no response.
Impatience began to replace his usual gentle demeanor. He clinched his fist and banged against the door as he shouted, “Hey! There seems to be somebody at your door!”
Not a sound came from the house.
His impatience faded into uncertainty and unease.
He knocked again, losing most of his strength behind it. When he was met with silence for a fourth time, his unease turned to panic.
He tried for the door knob only to find it locked. Being as he wasn’t strong enough to force the door open, he had to compose himself enough to focus and pick the lock via a few tools he had in the car. It took no more than two minutes, but it felt like hours as he steadied his hands the best he could with a sinking, unnerving feeling weighing down his stomach. His concentration clouded and fogged by worst-case scenarios flooding his mind.
The click of the turned lock snapped his brain to one thought; (ragazza). But as soon as he turned the knob and rushed the door back, the potent, undeniable, gag-inducing scent of blood and decay filled his nose.
His heart and breathing stopped along with every detail of the world around him. Nothing existed in that moment. Nothing was real. This wasn’t real. It couldn’t be.
It took every fiber in his being, but he forced his feet to push off, and he ran through the house. As he got farther and deeper in, down the hall the smell of death only became more evident and unmistakable, but he pushed on. He kept on to (poppet’s) bedroom where the door had been left open. He came to an abrupt stop in front of the room and stared in from the hall. He stayed there. Expecting, but hoping differently. Praying different. Begging God to not let this be true.
He staggered to the door.
As he came closer and closer to the door frame, his legs seemed to become weaker and weaker, showing signs that his knees might give out on him any second.
And they did.
When his eyes came across (ragazza’s) motionless, ghost-white body laid out on the messy, blood soaked bed, his entire body gave up on him as he fell to the wood floors. Tears that had been streaming down his cheeks since he stepped foot into the house had only just became noticeable as they began to form a puddle in front of him. He choked on a scream that begged and pleaded to be let out, but he couldn’t find the air necessary to release it. It held in his throat until it willed its way out.
“No!” A long gasp of breath interrupted by hiccuped cries. “N-no, no, no, no, no…You can’t. Y-you can’t do this to me. No. No, you can’t…”
He rocked back and forth with his hands gripped and choking his upper arms. His body shook and shivered as his tears refused to quit, and his eyelids wouldn’t dare budge to blink the insistent burning away.
It wasn’t meant to be that long.
Luciano had only sent his daughter (ragazza) to live with his brother Flavio for a few weeks. One month, tops. After some time, she would cool off he thought. She just needed time. She knew he loved her more than anything. Nothing mattered more to him than her.
Why did she have to be so stubborn? So hot-tempered? Why’d she have to be so much like him?
She should have been a fun-loving, studious, normal teenage girl. Her biggest problem should be which shoes to wear to lunch out with her friends. She should be at home with him— pampered, spoiled, and spending all of his money on clothes, sweets, and whatever else her little heart desired. This— none of this— this entire situation shouldn’t have even been a thing happening.
But it was. His little girl was filled with rage, resentment, and hate. All especially and directed just for him. Feelings she shouldn’t even have to experience. How could he let such feelings touch his only child?
More than two weeks it had been. For over two weeks, Luciano hadn’t gotten to see, hear, or embrace his only daughter. The only human-being he cared about more than himself.
On this particular day, Luciano’s phone rang. The dull, average ringtone played and dragged until Luciano decided to check it. The screen identified the caller as his brother, so he answered.
“Luciano,” Flavio’s tone was flat and somber. It gave Luciano a sudden and unexpected feeling of dread.
“What? What happened? (ragazza’s) okay, right?”
“Flavio…? Flavio, do not fucking…fuck with me right now; tell me she’s fine!” His hands twitched and gripped at the phone as he paced back and forth in his room. His patience was quickly running low for his brother’s silence. “Answer me, god damn it! Where’s (ragazza)?”
“…(ragazza)…” Flavio drifted off. “(r-ragazza)…is dead.”
Luciano’s ears had been playing tricks on him that day.
They had to be.
There was no possible way that what they heard was right.
“Wai— W-what? Say that again.”
“(ragazza) is dead, Luciano…She’s dead.”
His head involuntarily moved from one side to the other as his brain attempted to form a sentence. “H-h…H-how?”
“(poppet),” Flavio paused midway before drawing in a breath. “(poppet). S-she…she stabbed her.”
“She smothered her with a pillow and stabbed her.”
Luciano shut his eyes. “No,” he forced out through his gritted teeth.
“Right through the chest,” Flavio continued, though Luciano wanted nothing more than for him to stop, “and she pointed a gun in her mouth and killed herself.”
Luciano’s free hand covered his mouth as his eyelids squeezed tighter. “Oh, god no.”
“Along with everyone. Else. In. The house.”
“I-I saw (ragazza’s) body laying in the bed.”
“S-she had been dead for over twenty-fours hours before I found her.”
Luciano broke down and fell to his knees by his bedside table. “Stop. P-please I—.”
“T-there were dried tears on her face, Luciano!” Flavio cried. “Her blood was stained, dried into the floor. I-I saw it…I saw it…”
“(r-ragazza)…” Luciano choked on tears he refused to let loose, but his burning eyes couldn’t hold on for too long. “(ragazza). T-this…This shouldn’t have happened to you. Why? Why would…My little ragazza.”