“Phillip, chin up, lad, it’s not the end of the world.”
Phillip dragged his head up from his hands to look at the person addressing him. Dr. Costello was a tall man who liked to dress in tweed suits and circular spectacles. He had earned his doctorate in ocular medicine, and could lift even the heaviest weights if he wanted to. His dark hair was starting to become peppered, and so he was eager for his sons to find good work, so he would know how to split his fortune; those who had tried, and were honestly more worthy of it, would get more. So far, his third eldest son, Ryan, was in the running for at least half the fortune, for he had put his armed forces work ahead of personal luxuries.
Dr. Costello had married, favourably, with his cousin and their deep, textured black hair was a dominant gene; a trait easily spread to all the sons and their children.
Mrs. Costello ran a clean and fair household, in which she, as the only woman, was respected and not rejected. She would make sure that her sons were safe and satisfied, no matter what their occupation.
Unfortunately, she could not alter her husband’s views on sharing the money between them.
Phillip had returned later, empty-handed, to their family home, and proceeded to ignore any words of encouragement from the brothers who were left there. The eldest two, now married, had their own houses, and so they knew nothing of Phillip’s decision. On the other hand, another brother, Andrew, looked up from the medical dictation that he was writing, to offer some kind words. As the third youngest, Andrew wasn’t particular close to Phillip, but then Phillip had never been close to anyone in his family. Marriage to Aidelle would have been his way out of trying to prove his worth to the family. But now she was gone…
Phillip had made his way to his favourite room in the house: the library. Three of its walls were packed with books (including the door and its wall) and Phillip had always liked to imagine that he himself was inside a novel; the walls were the interior walls of his novel, and when he closed the door, he could block anything going on out there in the ‘real’ world.
The fourth wall was all window, huge panes of clear glass pointing into the huge grounds that surrounded the Costello mansion. Light didn’t creep into the library but entered with a flourish and doffed its radiant cap to scatter the glow smoothly. Phillip liked to look into the grounds, to see everything, and everyone, that happened. Of course, it never was anything scandalous, but Phillip had liked to dream, and he liked the perspective that the library gave of the grounds. East-facing, the morning sun glittered on the grass making it just a little brighter. The trees always cast equal and proportionate shadows, making them almost perfect foliage, and, from this second-floor library, the mid-lawn fountain looked far bluer and far bigger than it really was. It was romantic and a great picture-shot.
On normal days, it was Phillip’s private peaceful; he would not usually be disturbed.
Today, though, Dr. Costello was intent on disturbing his son’s quiet.
Phillip glanced at his father, frustrated.
“You…may not be able to understand, father.”
“I understand a lot about life, Phillip, if that’s what you are referring to.”
“I shouldn’t have gone away,” Phillip mumbled.
“You made the right decision. Your duty equals money (pay and inheritance), loyalty and trust. Marriage is not a necessary for men and love is merely a treat.”
Phillip sighed; his shoulders slumped. He couldn’t keep eye contact with his father, though.
“If I’d stayed, she would have been happy with me. I would have had enough with her around me. You may not be able to understand, but I wish I hadn’t left, required or not.”
”Son,” Dr. Costello looked at him, sternly, “You won’t get through life wishing for the past.”
Phillip bit his tongue as he scowled. He very much wanted to say that he could try, but it wouldn’t have been the ‘done thing’. Instead, Phillip stood up and briskly nodded to his father. He thrust open the door to find Ryan listening in behind. Furiously pushing past his brother, Phillip stormed up towards the top of the house, and his childhood secret spot at the very top: the airy attic. Phillip hadn’t used it very often as he grew older, but it was more of a little place to sit and think, now that he was an adult.
Ryan wandered into the library, hands tucked into the pockets of his trousers. Dr. Costello glanced up at him.
“Am I doing the right thing, Ryan?”
“Of course, father. He needs discipline and order, and you should be the one to change him.”
“You’ll be a General yet, my boy.”
“Listening to my advice was the best thing you could have done.”