At two, Isabella Rono and her father, who had been left no options, moved to France to stay there since her mother spoke so fondly of visiting there when she was young. At nineteen, after living there for quite some time, she was given the chance to become a caretaker to a young boy named Yves. The boy hadn't been given much love and had lacked care. She looked after him like a mother and he had become attached. Around 2008 when he was eighteen and she was twenty-nine, she retired and moved to New York. A year later on, she married a man and started owning an apartment complex. The two were reunited three years later, along with Yves's brother, Audre.
Isabella nervously straightened out her long white skirt before walking into the secluded villa. The early spring coolness ran around her sweaty back. She had traveled from Nice by train to meet a young child. From the time she stepped in, she would be responsible for caring for a four-year-old, even though she was a child herself; she had heard from other workers at the home that the child was born outside the master’s marriage. His mother had died a year back from septic shock—she wondered how he dealt with hearing the news. It must have been nerve-wracking for a child to lose their mother so early. She felt that herself when she lost her mother.
She had died in a car accident when she was young, on the way to meet her and her father. Her father followed sixteen years after, from a heart attack. She had gotten used to the feeling of being alone.
“Good morning. I’m the new caretaker, Isabella,” she says as her tongue brushes her lower row of her crooked teeth nervously, watching as a curly-haired boy peered at her as she stood. “Yves, this is Isabella. She’ll take care of you in the other house, okay?” he waddles over to her, clutching onto her affectionately.
“Yves, would you like to come grocery shopping with me?”
On her way back, she spotted a boy in the garden, planting flowers; who had eventually resigned, putting on his schoolboy glasses. He glances at her and the child she was holding and runs off into the main house in a hurried fashion.
It was almost as if that he was a haunting specter—he was scurrying off to the place where she had belonged.
Isabella stopped a maid passing through, inquiring her a question regarding the child.
“Ma’am, do you know who that might be?”
“Yves’s older brother Audre. He loves the roses in the garden They were his mother’s favorite.”
“Yves, wash your hands before you eat, okay?” Isabella says to the drowsy little six-year-old boy while she cooked them breakfast.
After that day, she hadn't seen the mysterious child from the garden. Apparently, he stayed in Brazil with his father while Yves stayed in France, being raised by hired help.
The two of them lived comfortably in a small two-bedroom villa with occasional visits from the other caretakers from the main house. Yves was accustomed to her to the point where it was just the two of them, there living as if they were mother and child. She wished that both their mothers were still alive to see that their children were lively and happy.
“It wasn’t Yves’s choice on who his parents would be. His mother didn’t have a choice on being poor either. As a baker’s daughter, she took care of her family’s business. That business, though, which suffered from the disinterest of young people, had to close down. Around that time, she was pregnant with Yves. She had worked hard to take care her son so his father wouldn’t but, in the end, she died. It seemed all in vain didn't it?”
“Issy, can we go to the park today?”
“Sure, after we go grocery shopping it won't take long, okay?” when she finishes setting everything, she saw Yves’s hair was still dripping. “Child, you’ll catch a cold like this, remember that.” she scolds, giggling, heading away from the bathroom.
“Hmmm? What is it, my precious baby?”
“Are you going to stay here, forever? You’re not going to leave me like mama did, right?” she shut off the hairdryer to look at the wild-haired child.
He was too young to realize forever doesn’t last and that at one point she’d leave him.
She’d leave like everyone else.
“Of course not Yves. I’ll be here for as long as I’m able. Now come on, we have to eat breakfast before we go out today.”
The bushy-haired child slept in her lap, dozing while she braided his hair and whistled. She heard a familiar song playing creeping out the radio’s speakers. She leans over to turn the volume up.
“Such a gorgeous child, like an angel sent from heaven.” she croons, watching the sleeping child. She carried him warm body to their bed, before heading to freshen up.
“You should really stop doing this. You’re too old for this child.”
Yves was eighteen.
She was twenty-nine.
Isabella still had trouble with him sleeping in the rocking chair next to her desk.
She was getting older, too. She wondered if it would be best for her to retire after she nearly raised the boy.
She had more to do with her life and that included not staying in France. “You have to go, it’ll be a burden for me if you stay.” his deep, big eyes start to glimmer at her as he pouts.
“I don’t want to go to school. What is there for me if I stay there?” Yves with his head in her lap and traced the floral pattern on her nightgown. Moments like this make her not regret her decisions; a moment of her not regretting taking a job like she had at such a young age.
“I didn’t remember raising you to be so pigheaded.”
With a knock, a driver came in with his uniform on.
After they were gone, she heard a knock on the door.
There was Audre looking at her, flushed, with a bouquet of roses in his hands.
“The roses turned out nicely this summer. I thought you would love some for the living room.”