As promised, I have published a new short story for Albert’s birthday called “Papa, what makes a prince?” (PG-13) in
It is meant to be a sequel to my other story “It must have been love”, but it can be read by itself. It was written from Albert’s point of view based on the facts from the manga version and the Candy Candy Final Story. Thank you for your support and have a nice weekend!
Synopsis: Albert and Candy are now parents of two young children, and this story is about them visiting Pony’s Home and Lakewood for the first time as a family since the couple moved to London years ago.
The following is the teaser:
“Papa, what makes a prince?” asks Anthony out of the blue from behind me. I’m carrying him on my back while walking along the river bank.
I am caught off guard, wondering what’s going on in his little mind. He sounds tired but serious. For a while, the only sound is the rushing river, the songs of the birds, and the strong wind that rustles the trees surrounding us. About half a minute later, he repeats his question after a loud yawn. I can feel his warm breath near my nape.
“Why?” I throw a question back at him. “What stories did your mother read to you yesterday?”
“Not from a story…” he grumbles after another yawn.
Meanwhile, I wonder if Candy has told Anthony about that little secret between us. She still likes to address me as Prince on the Hill, which used to make me feel a creepy crawly on my back, but she does it when we are alone and she wants to show her affection to me.
Yet Anthony is a precocious boy who will turn four years old in three months. Since he likes us to read books to him in our spare time, he is quite knowledgeable for his age. Not to mention that he somehow senses whether our answers to his questions are serious or not. However, it’s a little embarrassing to admit to my son that I’m his mother’s ‘prince’. The reason is simple. I’m not a royalty, and it’s just a nickname Candy gave me when she was a little girl.
Hence, I merely give him a straightforward definition. “Well… a prince is the son of a king or a royal prince. For example, a king’s brother is a royal prince, and his son is also a prince.”
“In that case,” he responds right away but pauses abruptly as though he needs to digest my answer. A few seconds later he follows up, “are you a king or a prince?”
I’m not surprised, and I’m now positive that his mother has indeed told him something about me, but I answer patiently, “No, I’m neither.”
His little arms wrap around my neck tighter for a brief moment, and he asks, sounding confused, “But why did mom say-”
I cut him off, ceasing my steps and pointing upwards to the mighty eagle in the sky, “Look, son! Did you see that big bird?”
He cranes his neck and squints his eyes, trying to find something in the sky, but to no avail. “What big bird? You mean an eagle, papa?”
“Yes, it’s up there! Just behind that tall tree-”
“I see it I see it!” he exclaims when he spots it at last, clapping enthusiastically. These mighty birds of prey can only be found in North America, so it is the first time he has ever seen a real bald eagle with his own eyes. At the same time, to have successfully distracted him certainly takes the load off my mind.
A short while later, it starts drizzling, so I resume hiking at a fast pace and start telling him why we use the eagle shape for our family insignia and the history behind it. Before long, Anthony falls asleep as expected, resting his tiny golden head against the crook of my neck. A couple of minutes later, I can hear him snore and feel him loosening his grip. I hunch forward and grab his legs tighter while continuing to traverse the terrain.
Like his parents, Anthony is adventurous and enjoys nature. That is why he has always wanted to see the animals that reside near the waterfall by the mountain lodge. His mother has told him countless times about me and the animals before this trip, so when we arrived at Lakewood yesterday, he couldn’t wait to go near the waterfall. Yet the sun was already setting, so I suggested we go right after lunch the next day.
Today, he wasn’t disappointed at all. First, as per his request, I showed him the spot where his mother had almost drowned many years ago. The loud gushing waterfall noise was a little frightening, and he glanced up at me, his eyes full of respect and admiration. Then he asked, “What was it like to swim in the rapids?”
I told him it was very dangerous, but I hadn’t thought twice back then. I actually had had a long, tough rope tied around the trunk of a tree and myself before diving in. “Luckily, it wasn’t hard to find your mother, but she had passed out…”
He had learned this from his mother, but I seldom mentioned it from my perspective. Now that he was here at the scene he got even more fascinated, so I promised him that when he was older and stronger one day, we would come back to swim together in the less turbulent part of the river.
After that, he said to me, “So, papa, where did you and mom stay last night?”
I showed him where the mountain lodge was. Once we were near, many cute critters came out to frolick with him, and he was amazed at how agile they were. Yet after running around with them for some time, the sun was beginning its gradual descent, and grey clouds had gathered, gradually covering up the blue sky. “Anthony, we should head back before it starts to rain.”
He agreed, albeit reluctantly. However, he seemed too exhausted to climb uphill, and he was having difficulties keeping up my slow pace. He had been the one who insisted on coming here on foot such that he could take the time to enjoy the scenery and surroundings. I was so glad he wanted to familiarize himself with the place where I had grown up as a boy. Our family had kept the whole area natural except there existed walking trails that meandered through the forest and meadow. I remembered how little I had known about my own father, so to avoid repeating the mistake, I tried to spend as much time alone with my son as possible, and this was undoubtedly a great opportunity to strengthen our father-son bond.
Later, when it was clear that he was short of breath, I planned to pick him up, but knowing that he could be stubborn sometimes, I asked, “Anthony, are you alright?”
With a weak nod, he continued dragging his tiny feet. Then I urged, “Great Aunt Elroy, your mother and baby sister are waiting for us to join them for dinner in the villa, and it’s getting dark. We have to hurry.”
After some struggles, he complained that his shoes were very heavy. Not wanting to worry Candy or my aunt, I questioned, “Want a piggyback ride, son?”
His blue eyes brightened up immediately, and he exclaimed with glee, “Hurray!” He always enjoyed piggyback ride because he could see a lot more at my height.
Now that he is taking his nap, he is slowly sliding down on my back. As drizzles turn to rain, I lift his body up slightly so that he is securely in place when I pick up my speed. At this moment, Anthony’s question earlier flashes across my mind. I think Candy might have told Anthony about our very first encounter on the hill when we finally paid a long overdue visit to Pony’s Home yesterday. A few years had gone by since our move to London, and my dear wife could have been taken over by nostalgia.