Seven - Boys Don't Cry

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On the drive to work, Ricardo thought about his father. He thought about him often, though he never spoke of him. He thought about their relationship, the strains of their father-son bond, the lengths the whole family had gone to in order to please one man. Because Ricardo Senior was one hard headed son of a bitch and if he didn't get what he felt he was entitled to, he took it. It was the reason Raquel let him send her only son away, and then her only daughter. It was why Ricardo felt he had to do Law, even though when he was young he dreamt of being in a band.

A ridiculous idea, his father had stormed. He hadn't even taken it seriously, had laughed and cut the conversation short. A conversation that Ricardo junior had spent a whole week preparing, terrified of his reaction but knowing that he had to tell his family. He had to tell them that he wasn't going to do Law. That, in fact, he wasn't sure he even wanted to go to university at all.

He could remember that Christmas as clear as yesterday. He was home for the holiday break, just turned 16 years old, excited to see his mother and his newborn baby sister. They'd all gone out to get last minute shopping and were exhausted from pushing through crowds of people, trying to protect Andrea in her buggy. Ricardo senior was grumbling that Raquel should have stayed at home, and she was laughing and explaining that it was a family outing. They were all in one room, and Ricardo junior couldn't see why now wouldn't be the perfect time, before they dispersed throughout the house.

"I don't want to do Law."

They didn't even hear him, they were still bickering. So he said it again, louder. with more force. The room went quiet. Raquel stared at him, his father frowned. Then he stood and approached, his frown deepening. He was so much more frightening up close when you could see the endless depths of his eyes. "What did you just say?" he asked, knowing full well but giving his son a chance to change his foolish mind.

Ricardo junior's heart was pounding because he had never stood up to his father's wishes before. No one ever did. "I don't want to do Law like you."

"What the hell would you do instead, hmm?"

The really scary part. He stammered as he replied, mentally cursing his voice box. "Music."

And his father laughed, threw his head back and really laughed. Ricardo junior stood rock still and watched his father wipe tears of mirth from his smooth cheeks. "You think because you sing in the shower, you can change your whole future - the future I set out for you?"

He flushed then, at the insinuation that he wasn't good because he knew that he was. He had been told so. He was going to be in a band. "I don't sing in the shower. I sing for people and I'm really good. I like singing. I don't like Law."

His father's eyes went flat, predatory, like in a documentary they'd all watched together one day. "Listen to me, boy. You don't get to throw your life away whenever it tickles you. Santos & Santos is our firm: mine and yours. I don't want to hear about this bullshit ever again, you hear me?"

Ricardo junior did not reply. If he opened his mouth, he was certain that he would swear at his father and that was not something you did lightly. So he just stared, body rock hard, teeth clenched.

"And another thing," his father added as he left. "You tell whoever is filling your head with nonsense - I assume it's some girl - to stop it. Or I'll have to find you another school."

Ricardo could still remember standing there, watching his father stalk off, eyes shimmering but refusing to cry. His father had always drilled it into him that boys don't cry. So he stared instead and felt a part of him wither away. His mother tried to comfort him but he pushed her away. The next day he booked his own plane ticket back to Switzerland without telling them. His parents didn't bother trying to get him to come home and he spent Christmas day with a handful of strangers at his boarding school.

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