A/N Hey guys, last summer I spent two months rehearsing and performing for Once on This Island Jr. I played Ti Moune and this musical really touched me. I feel like it should be acknowledged more than it is so I wrote a little something something. I hope you enjoy it ;)
It was a day blessed by Asaka.
The sun shone high and mighty among the clear blue sky, not a cloud in sight. The birds chirped a familiar tune as they nuzzled against their feathers. The rain that had proceeded to be constant the past couple of days gave way to greener meadows. A gentle breeze ran through the trees and the branches and leaves that swayed in a response.
All but one tree.
Samuel Beauxhomme sat underneath the shade of the lengthy leaves basking in the peace that surrounded him that day. Resting his head against the bark of the trunk and his feet atop the roots that weaved through the soil, he smiled, recalling the way he used to climb up, high above the branches and look up towards the gods.
No, he does no such thing now; he isn't nearly a child anymore. Thirty years have passed since those languid childhood days. Thirty years well spent.
Samuel adjusted his position as he heard the first cry pierce the quiet air.
It all happened quite quickly: Samuel standing to his bare feet and walking in curiosity to the cry, his mother yelling in her rage, slapping a familiar young man, his daughter pleading for her to stop and when her efforts proved to be futile, ran to her father in anguish.
"Papa! Please, help!" Samuel's daughter cried, running into his open arms as they marched towards his mother holding the young man up by the ear. Yes, he was familiar but now Samuel could place where his face was from. He came now and then to the Hotel Beauxhomme Estate, to work as a farmhand for the kitchen help. Kind and respectful, Samuel regarded him.
With one hand around his daughter, he used the other to reach out into the air. "Mama, stop this. Release the boy, he has done no wrong," his calm voice wrung into the air.
Andrea tightened the grip on the boy; her face was viscous. "Nonsense! He has defiled by grand-daughter!"
"No!" Samuel's daughter leaped, restrained by her father's single arm. Tears streamed down her face now. "No! That never happened!" she turned to her father, desperate but she knew that he would always do the good thing. "Gregory was helping me, papa, I was trying to reach a peach! I fell alongside of him. Grand-mama is lying!"
Samuel looked to her grief-stricken daughter, more emotional than she should be with a matter like this. But he was more than aware of her and Gregory's infatuation with each other. He pretended not to notice because of matters like this. Because matters of the heart on this island were so much more complicated than it was before.
In a quiet voice he spoke. "Let him go, mama."
Andrea eyed her son with a mixture of anger and despair, a proverbial concoction, and did as she was told. But not before giving him one last hit on the eye for good measure. Samuel's daughter almost fell to her knees if not for her father's grip on her.
Gregory nodded in thanks at Samuel to which he returned. He then looked through a swollen and bleeding eye at his daughter for a moment before stumbling across the fields and through the open iron gates onto the other side of the island.
"Roseline," Samuel addressed her aching daughter. But he didn't finish before she sprung up from the ground in fury and passion and outstretched her fair arm and pointed her index finger at her grand-mother.
"What is wrong with you!" her voice shook. "Why are you so hateful?"
Andrea took this as a slap to the face, shaking her head with disbelief.
"Because his skin is black and his family is poor, it makes you feel like royalty? Because our skin is fair and our houses are large and we grow fat from food and wine," her eyes were red.
"If it were another man-" Roseline started.
"No, no-" Andrea attempted to respond but Roseline overlapped her.
"If it were another man with skin, caramel and family rich as thieves, you would let him knock me up fifty times over!" she screamed.
"Enough!" Samuel interjected. "Roseline, you know-"
"I love him!" she yelled. "I love Gregory like the moon loves the night sky and the tides wash over the shores and if the gods allow I will marry him! Now leave me."
Roseline spit on the ground near her grandmother for good measure, gathered her billowing skirts and into the hotel.
Andrea stood in shock. "She doesn't understand," she whispered; her face somberly looking onward to nothing in particular. "I'm only doing this for her good."
Samuel recalled his childhood when she would say the same thing to him. As he would go down to the tides and traipse on the sand to play with the darker, less fortunate children.
Play until his mother would come screeching in horror of the sight that befell her. Until she'd drag him from his ears to their estate ferociously scolding and warning him of the dangersthat lingered among them.
Until he watched them from his iron gates, running and laughing and calling him to play. And he remembered how devastated he was when he begged to go and play and he continued to receive a 'no' as an answer. For most of his youth, he was shielded away from the real world, even with his poor father's lamentations to his mother about how wrong it was.
Daniel Beaxhomme: how he had been such a light in Samuel's life. A guidance for the young man growing up, a peacemaker to counter his mother at times when her comments and her anger was monstrous. They'd fought and bickered most of his childhood, and though they did so in such discreet places and in hushed, polite tones, Samuel knew very well it was present.
"That's my job, mama," Samuel challenged.
Andrea glared at him. "Well do a better one and teach her not to associate herself with one of them."
She wasn't always like this, Daniel had told him, she was kind and respectful in their relationship. But it wasn't until a young Samuel had come back to the hotel sobbing from being smacked because of throwing a ball to the poor children, that Daniel had sat him on his lap and told him the story of Ti Moune. About the resistant tree and the dark woman he had loved and young as he was, Samuel could hear the remorse and the waver of his voice.
That day he understood why his mother detested the others. But it was only until later when he was an adult, that he really comprehended the meaning behind Andrea's detest: it was hurt. She would never admit it though; far too proud for such a thing.
Daniel Scoffed at his mother. "I refuse to restrict my daughter on your dense morals," he responded solemnly.
Years ago, Andrea would have given him a whack. But now, he is much older, much wiser and stronger. So she settled for a cluck of her tongue and a shake of her white haired head. She gave a humorless laugh. "You are just like him," she said. "No matter what I did to make you see differently, you ended up the same as your father."
Samuel said nothing.
"I bet he's laughing in his grave," she continued.
Samuel was livid. "Don't speak about him that way. He was an honorable man, he-"
Andrea laughed before he could finish. "Honorable? Yes, sleeping with a village girl while being promised to me is honorable."
"You were promised to each other when you were children. When you were learning how to write and read and could barely lace your sandals by yourself; he wanted true love," Samuel counteracted.
Andrea, for the second time that day looked to her son in anguish. "Samuel, you are not justifying his actions. He lived with and died because of his secrets-"
"He died of an aching heart, Mama!" Samuel all but yelled.
He thought back to when he was a teen; discovering the world of women and contemplating the future. His father and him were playing ball behind the hotel in the field. They were laughing about something he cannot remember and all of a sudden Daniel dropped like a stone.
A heart attack, they said.
He couldn't be revived, they said.
Samuel had thought of the idea to bury him near Ti Moune's tree, but Andrea wouldn't hear of it. She wanted him to be placed in the family cemetery where his ancestors were and so would future generations.
After his outburst, Andrea grew weary, wearier than Samuel had seen her before. "He died of an aching heart," she repeated. "But I have been living with mine." With that note, she calmly straightened herself out, brushed off her dress, and turned slowly to make her way into the Hotel.
Samuel had stood there and dwelled on their conversation. It was the most meaningful one they've had in a long while. He loved his mother; he would be a fool to say otherwise, but years of the lifestyle that had promoted the perfection his mother needed to thrive was ever present there.
Samuel decided to finally go after his dismayed daughter.
Samuel could hear her faint gasps and crying as he approached her bedroom. The door stood at an angle, open.
He smiled. She always left it open.
He knocked on it just for good measure, but entered anyway. His eyes landed on his forlorn daughter; tear stains across her caramel cheeks before he slowly crossed the room.
Samuel took a good look around the vast space. Airy with the breeze flowing in and out the large and open windows, complementing the periwinkle walls. Island flowers spotted against the wooden floorboards and curtains billowing the breeze.
Gently taking a seat upon the edge of her bed, he ran his hands on his shorts stopping to rip a fray off the bottom cuffs.
He looked towards his daughter and her gaze was still down, silent tears dropping against her bare knees, her honeycomb and tree bark colored wavy hair falling along her neck.
"I won't apologize," she said out of nowhere, head still cast towards the ground. "She doesn't deserve it."
Samuel slowly nodded his head. "You're very right, she doesn't."
It was silent again until Roseline's hands which were atop her knees bunched up the material around them into fistfuls and she growled in a rush of anger. "I just," she began, her usually steady voice struggling to steady. "Help me see through her eyes. She hates everything. I see a flower and she sees a bee ready to sting." Roseline stood, face flushed, and gesturing and shaking her head. "I see a palm tree she sees a coconut ready to strike. I laugh, she scowls. I'm tired of it all!"
Samuel had a sad expression on his aging face as he took in his poor, beautiful daughter. How could he make her see?
He patted the spot next to him and she begrudgingly sat, as he drew an arm around her. "Be patient with her, life has made her bitter," he settled on.
But his daughter scoffed. "What, this simple, rich, lush life? She doesn't even have to lace her sandals by herself, I don't believe it."
Samuel sighed and looked at the strong tree out of the window, it was time she knew.
"My dear," he turned to her. "I have something very important to tell you, but first I must ask you a question."
Roseline eyed her father curiously and apprehensively before asking what he needed to hear.
"Do you really love this boy?" Samuel asked.
Roseline inhaled and stood only to kneel down to her father's knees, clasping his hands. "Papa," she began, her green eyes glistening with unshed tears. "I would die for him."
I would die for him the echo of Ti Moune rung out.
Her tears fell freely now. "I've known no other love like this one. It's deep, and it hurts me," she continued, shaking. "He's so beautiful in the depths of his soul and in the skin that damns him."
Suddenly she arose, fury took over her as she crossed the room to stop and spin around. Her arms flailing, wild hair landing in all directions. "And yet we get persecuted for it," and desperately she said. "Tell me, Papa, am I not right to love him? Is there something wrong with me? Am I a fool like they say I am?"
Samuel went over to her and held her in an embrace. "No my dear. Who says these things?"
"My brothers," she responded solemnly.
Samuel frowned as he thought about his three, grown sons. It seemed that his mother's values took root in them before his could be instilled. They were good, kind boys, of course, however
Samuel held his daughter's face. "They only wish to protect you, they don't know, like us."
He wished his father was here to help him, to make her understand how peculiar, how wonderful love is.
He wished his wife was here.
The beautiful woman who took his heart and years later buried a portion of it six feet under the ground, where she laid now.
He felt Ti Moune's touch graze his shoulder, her spirit was here, he could feel it in abundance.
It was time.
"Roseline, sweetheart," he gestured for her to sit and he followed. "I have a story to tell you."
His daughter frowned. "A story? At this time?"
Samuel chuckled with mirth. "Trust me, this is one you'll need to hear." He proceeded. "Once on this island, there was a terrible storm..."
Samuel watched his daughter run through the gates beyond the hotel that kept her sheltered and onto the other side of the Island to claim her love for once and for all.
He could hear the booming laughter of Ti Moune and the smile of his father and knew that Roseline's path was one blessed by the souls who took it themselves.
Because love was worth the journey.