[FoH] Parent's Day: Daddy Dearest (Jerial)
Ah, it was that time of year again, wasn’t it?
That ever-delightful day that drains children of every rupee they had scrounged up (or rather, mooched off of their parents) throughout the year. Ironic, wasn’t it, that they spent all year earning allowances and slipping an extra rupee or two into their pocket when they were sent them to the marketplace for groceries, and yet their “hard-earned” money was returned back to the exact source from which it came. All because of this stupid holiday. He wouldn’t have even remembered the wretched thing in the first place if some loud-mouthed Deku child hadn’t been bouncing around Clock Town’s market babbling on and on about how “we should get Daddy a Moon’s Tear” and “but Daddy needs a Pictobox, too!” and "but Daddy already has an ocarina!". Really, he had half a mind to go over there and tell that kid that what his Daddy really needed was a child who didn’t vex the soul of everyone he came into contact with.
He earnestly wondered why anyone in their right mind would be excited over a holiday like this. The parents already had their birthdays - why did they need an entire other day dedicated to them? Where was Child’s Day? Come to think of it, he had asked his own mother that question one day. She bellowed, a laugh resembling more of a howl from the depths of her gut, and pulled him into a headlock. “Because once you’re a parent, every day is Child’s Day. Now start respecting your elders and buy Mama a present!” And that was the end of that.
He hadn’t thought of his mother in a long, long time. He generally tried not to. That wasn’t to say she wasn’t an altogether enjoyable woman. Quite the contrary - she seemed to be the life of the party near everywhere she went. It was almost as though she made wherever she went into a party of its own. He envied that gift of hers. It had been, what, a year now? He tried picturing her face again, but the image seemed to be a bit blurred even in his brain. The thought struck him as more than just a bit sad. Hair likes flames, lips eternally arced into an impish grin, eyes that glittered that like liquid gold. On the outside, his mother was a veritable vixen of a woman, all smiles and seduction. But on the inside, she was a mess of unmet needs and unhealed hurts. She was a perfect storm in every sense. How closely he followed in her footsteps.
He supposed neither of them would have turned out to be the succubi they had become if it weren’t for that man. Whoever he may be, he was surely to blame for all this. That man, that mystery, that shadow that stalked him round every corner but always lay just out of reach. Even now, the word almost stung to say - father. The thought nearly provoked the rolling of eyes. It wasn’t that he hated his father, really, he didn’t. Can’t exactly hate someone you don’t know, right? But that was the tragic irony of it all - whoever this man was, he had left an unmistakable impression of pain upon their family that no time could hope to heal, and yet, Jerial hadn’t the first clue who this man he was chasing after could possibly be.
His mother never once spoke of him. There wasn’t a pictograph of him in sight, even when he raided his mother’s locked box of her most precious belongings (really couldn’t have been all that precious if one of the hairpins that she herself gave him could pick the lock with relative ease) and checked every nook and cranny of it for any clue as to who her husband could have been. Husband…had they even been married? Is that why he left? Was the pregnancy even planned? Jerial supposed that he would never know. His mother could detect even the tone of voice he would take on if he were to ask about the man in question and immediately would lock her lips and throw away the key. She was an impenetrable safe of shame and answers.
That’s why he had to set off on his own. That is the very reason he became a wanderer in the first place - if his mother wouldn’t explain anything to him, he would find the answers he needed himself. He had to find this man, no matter the cost. And oh, how it had cost him. He wondered if his mother would ever speak to him again. If his father really had left her, and hadn’t just died of a disease or Goddess knows what else, then Jerial supposed he himself was no better, having set off in the night with only a note left behind, asking for forgiveness. Ever since he got here, he’s been no better than either of his parents. He had made friends - that was a first - and, in a moment of panic, he had left them to keep chasing this man that, for all he knew, might not even exist. And he had left them, just like he left his mother - without warning or explanation. Like father, like son. Perhaps…perhaps it was time. No better time than the holidays, right? He had meant to do it a long, long time ago, but then he had met Jung and, well, he found himself in over his head before he could tell up from down. Figures. He knew that if he didn’t do it now, he never would. And so, with hair undone and pen in hand, he poured his heart on paper, bleeding on page after page after page until his heart ran dry.
It’s me, not that you even know who “me” is. You should, but you don’t. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with introductions, shall we? My name is Jerial, the son of Esmera. I’m almost twenty now, can you believe it? I mean, I guess you could - it’s the same time you left, or so I assume. Or are you dead? Then again, you wouldn’t be reading this letter…ignore that. Goddess, this isn’t coming out right.
Mom hasn’t spoken a word about you since the day I was born. I’ve waited nineteen entire years for one word - just one - about the man who made me, but she won’t break. She’s strong, as I’m sure you already know. Or, at least, she was. People told me she had changed, once she lost you. Not on the outside, of course. It wouldn’t be Mom if she wasn’t dancing her life away. But underneath it all, she’s…lonely, I think would be the right word. She’d never admit it - she’s too proud - but I can see it written all over her. It’s not hard to see it in someone else when you’re the same way, or at least everyone tells me I’m her mini-me. Same hair, same eyes, same smirk. Sorry that the gene pool favored her. Can’t say I’m upset - you left quite a woman behind, you know that?
She’s the reason I’m where I’m at now. Actually, I guess that, too, would be your fault. No surprise. I’ve been searching for answers ever since I was old enough to realize that Mom couldn’t exactly have made me on her own. Home was no help - whatever you had said or done, no one wanted to speak so much as a word about you. And so, I left. I had to, or at least, that’s what I told myself. Now I’m out looking for you…for me. I guess it’s all one and the same, really. There has to be some part of me that I’d find in you, right? Because if not, then, well…
I still don’t even know what I’m doing. I’m lost more now than I ever was before. I’ve been looking and looking and looking for something, anything, to prove that you’re out there somewhere but I don’t even know what to look for or where to begin. Every moment I’ve been with Jung or Vanda or Kiia, deep down, I’m praying to whatever the hell is listening that I would find you or that I would walk into a town and you had just been waiting for me all along. But you haven’t waited and you aren’t waiting and you won’t wait for me because the truth is, you don’t love and you don’t love Mom and no matter what I do or how I act or what I become, I will never find you. You don’t want to be found.
Do you know how hard it was growing up without you? Being a male in our tribe isn’t exactly something you see everyday, you know. I was the outcast, the misfit, the square peg that was never supposed to be square at all. People avoided my like the plague, and I never even understood why. I didn’t choose to be born this way. Believe me, being born a girl would have been much easier for us all. But I wasn’t and I have never once had any idea what a man is supposed to look like. All I wanted was to a father, just like everyone else had. But I guess that was just too much to ask, and much more than someone like me could ever deserve.
And do you know the worst part of it all? I still can’t bring myself to hate you, and I can’t bring myself to stop looking for what I’ll never find.
It was finished. Lost he still may be, but at last he had taken the first step to letting go.
And Goddess, how good it felt to be free at last.
Jerial is a character with a complicated family history. I suppose any Male Gerudo has to have some sort of complex past. But he, in particular, struggles with his identity because of the man that left them behind. I wanted to pour out that pain that he has kept bottled up inside for so long. I hope I conveyed that level of emotion in this piece.
To all those who struggle with this oncoming holiday - I apologize for whatever pain it brings you, and I pray that your family relationships are reconciled and restored in whatever way possible. I hope for healing of your heart and of your family's hearts. I am so sorry for the hurt this holiday holds. You are loved beyond belief
Fall of Hyrule Moderators - I know that this isn't exactly what you wanted for a contest entry. Feel free to judge only my lousy attempt at a drawing (I apologize - I have little to no access to digital art applications at the moment, so I decided to draw Jerial as he writes his story...writingception?) if that so pleases you. But I do hope you enjoy the element of writing just as much. And hey, if all else fails, feel free not to count it as a contest entry at all. I want to respect your decisions for this contest while creating something that made you all feel something as you read it, so feel free to do as you please.