“The Lord has remembered”
This was the meaning of my name. Zachary.
It was never significant nor did it ever hold an importance to me. However, now, in my deep thinking and higher awareness of my surroundings, I pondered at the name assigned to me at birth. The biblical link to my name, arose a question in my mind.
Could I play God with the one wish that had been handed to me by birthright?
The weight of the world laid around my left index finger. The power to destroy or make peace was in my possession. It was a simple black band to those who did not grace the Marco last name and dull to passing eyes. To my relatives, no matter how distant they were from the strong core of the bloodline, the ring was the centrepiece of a room. The unabashed stares from family members at the jewellery on my father’s hand was never lost on me through the years. The curved metal was the very same heirloom that had survived generations of Marco men. Its condition as immaculate as the day it was made and engraved with the words, ‘The measure of a man is what he does with power’ in Greek.
Below me, the city that never slept breathed the night air. Yellow cabs and half-passed out drunks, covered the ground, on the way to their respective destinations, unaware of their onlooker.
The view was made possible by my crouching position on the top of a ten story building which by New York standards was short. I felt comfortable. The wind currents didn’t deter me in my stance. I didn’t crawl back from the edge into the safety of the middle of the roof. Instead, I remained fearless to the height, to the pressure of my decision and watched. In front of my eyes, the very lives that I now owned, had never looked as weak and vulnerable as before. Human life was fickle, only comprised of flesh and bone. Would it be so evil to rid the earth of those who in their everyday harmed it?
Serenity didn’t grace the world. Wars did. Hunger did. But my decision could free the world of its pain and hurt. Maybe the world would be full of daisies and sunshine with front doors left unlocked and children free to play outside.
But were they deserving of the paradise that I would give them?
Instead, I could be at the top. My name could decorate the streets. My presence bowed down to, while I stood prim and proper, dressed in a suit. A role model to those gruelling beneath me. I would stand on a podium, my subject’s necks craned to face their ruler. Curious eyes would peer up at me, not through a sense of fear but in the highest regard of admiration. Unadulterated love for their leader. I would sparkle in their eyes. I would be a spectacle.
I was torn into two minds. I had been for a while now.
I felt the need to be admired. Praise had never been mine.
I didn’t fit the Marco look. I wasn’t tall enough, broad enough and my hair blond and straight didn’t match the dark, curly hair of the Marco men. My cousins teased me on my appearance. As children, I would watch them play. A sea of black hair and long torsos with the legs to match, the features of Marco descent. There were rumours of my mother’s apparent infidelity- a two-timing whore who only wanted my father for his money according to my grandfather.
“That boy can’t be Alexander’s!” I heard my uncle Mike, in his drunken stupor, shout one cool summer’s evening. It was during a family barbeque a few summers ago. My other uncle, everyone called him Jack, pulled him by his arm and into the house, before he could continue. He was out of sight, but Mike’s slurs could still be heard, echoing in my mind. The whole time, I had never strayed from sipping on my refreshing lemonade, neither did I turn my head to see him being dragged away. The remarks didn’t faze me anymore. I was numb to them.
I had asked my father about it one day. I outright asked him if I was his son. He sat me down on his knee and placed his hands on my arms. I would never forget the look he gave me. It was one of heartbreak at the thought of his child doubting if he was his rightful heir and one of understanding. He had heard the comments too.
“You look exactly like your great grandfather did.” Is what he told me. “I don’t want to hear that nonsense come out of your mouth again, boy. That type of foolishness is reserved for idiots who can’t get a single thought straight through their thick heads.”
“You hear me?” He spoke sternly.
I went to bed that night with a picture of my great grandfather in my hands. My father had given it me. I hid under the covers with my mini torch and inspected the photo. My fingers ran over the creases and the man’s face. The picture was in black and white but his blond hair was obvious. Isaac Marco. I didn’t doubt my ancestry anymore. Yet hardship in other forms still ensued.
I had lived as a scrutinised young boy and had grown into a man with trust issues. Fleeting relationships, one night stands and temporary friends were my life. Family ties were weak. I was shunned.
Aunt Jane had said that there was something in my eyes, that they held a brewing evil. That every day I grew viler and that one day, I would bring the reckoning of hell. I couldn’t have been more than seven at the time.
I remembered hiding and peeking behind my mother’s legs, unconsciously gripping her skirt tight in my hands, watching my father shout at Aunt Jane. He told her that she was wicked to speak to a child in that way. There was a crash as a series of plates shattered on the ground. My hands moved to plug my ears. I couldn’t recall who threw them. Safe to say she didn’t visit us at Thanksgiving or Christmas again and it was the last that I had seen of her. More turkey and cake for me, I had initially thought but as time went on, I questioned what she had said. Did she really see a monster in me? One that had went undetected by me in my own waking hours?
My father had made his decision before I was born. He was a man full of greed, a man who placed money on a higher pedestal than his own wife. He had wished for wealth and since that fateful day, he had been rolling in dollar bills and lucrative businesses were his puppets.
I heard the familiar jingle of my ringtone. The phone vibrated in my jean pocket. Taking it out, ‘Father’ flashed on the screen. I picked up.
“Your decision?” His voice gruff and to the point.
“I’m-“ I paused. My attention turned to a pigeon which had landed on the edge next to me. A few seconds hadn’t passed before, it flew off and into the darkening night.
“I’m not sure sir.”
He was silent. I couldn’t even hear him breathe.
He hung up.
He was frustrated. A season had gone by since my father had slid the ring off his finger and onto mine. The days were growing shorter and leaves fell from the trees as the transition from summer to autumn slowly passed. I wrapped my coat around me tighter, hugging myself and looked at the city’s glowing lights below before standing.
It was time to go home.
A life of luxury could very well be a miserable one. I was living proof. I lived in my childhood home, a mansion built by my father and his team of architects and builders. It could fit a family of six yet I lived there alone. I liked it that way.
The bottom of my polished leather dress shoes clicked on the marble flooring as I made my way to the kitchen. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and the leftovers from takeout the night before was calling out to my rumbling stomach. After heating up the chicken and rice, I grabbed a can of beer then retreated to my seat at the dining table.
I always ate dinner alone. I faced seven empty chairs while I shovelled the food in my mouth. The fork and knife scraped against the plate, breaking the heavy silence that always seemed to rest on my shoulders.
I wasn’t entirely on my own. I was being watched.
A painted portrait of my mother hung on the wall in a gold rustic frame, opposite to where I was seated. She sat on a stool, her legs crossed over the other. She wasn’t smiling but instead, her expression was neutral.
My mother was mute for most of my life but I remembered when she would sing to me as a child. A beautiful sound to my infant ears and a melody that aided my sleep. The memory of that woman faded each day. My overall childhood (and now adulthood) only knew of a scared housewife, skittish and withdrawn. Hidden in the background, even further behind the shadow of my father. In a place of great depth that I had never seen her leave. The depression was obvious. She wore it on her face every day, the mask that she had once worn, decayed overtime. My mother had given up. The Marco name was a burden not an honour to her. There wasn’t an ounce of jealousy to the women that threw themselves at my father.
“She can have him.” She whispered under her breath.
It was my ninth birthday as we both watched a ‘family friend’ with bright auburn red hair and a sensual smile, fawn over my father. Her long legs peaked out of her dress, my father’s attention on them, the other men in the room had sneaked a glance at them too.
Felicity was her name. I recalled seeing her name on a letter delivered to the house a few weeks ago that my father had snatched out of my hands.
Felicity walked up to me after her wild display of flirting with the man who had helped to create me. My mother left as her figure approached. The woman introduced herself, her tone warm but condescending. She extended her arm out to me in hopes of a hand shake but my arms stayed firmly by my side.
Her smile faltered slightly and her hand dropped. She ran her hand over her dress and beamed at me, seemingly taking my rejection in her stride. She walked back over to the side of the room where my father stood.
I watched her retreating figure then looked at my mother. She had seen it all. The corners of her mouth were lifted somewhat then her passive face returned. I couldn’t blame her for carrying her hurt everywhere she went. She had been forced to be a timid woman, one who dealt with an egocentric and cheating husband. I resented my father because of it.
My mother left on my twenty first birthday with her bags packed and in the middle of the night. I was legal to drink and I downed a few bottles in my sorrow. I was happy for her. She had left my father but, now, I was truly alone. Last year, she had sent me a postcard. On the front was the Eiffel Tower. She hadn’t written much. In only one sentence, she told me that she missed me and she always thought of me. At the end, she signed it with her name and a single kiss. I burned the postcard the next day.
The chicken was now cold and I had no desire to continue to eat. I stood up and pushed my chair back, leaving my plate. I’d clean it up later.
I paused at the arch, halting before I left the dining room. I looked behind me and at my mother. Her eyes bore into mine, they always seemed to follow me no matter where I stood in the room. At her gaze, the touch of the ring felt like it was burning my skin.
She knew the extremity of the decision that I faced. I knew what she would want me to do. I knew what her answer would be.
But I was a Marco. Despite earlier doubts, it was undeniable. Malice swam through my blood.
I ignored her look. My mind was made.
My name would lie on the tips of everyone’s tongues. I would feel rejoice.
And the Lord would remember.