La Dolce Vita (1960)
La Dolce Vita (The Good Life), is a film about a journalist’s week in Rome and his search for both happiness and love that will never come.
After watching this film, I was inspired to write the following short story as I felt as though Marcello’s backstory was less that satisfactory. I wanted to know why he could not keep in love. Why it was so hard for him to stay with one person and I kept thinking about it, and I thought, maybe it was because he was never shown love or happiness and he did not understand what those words meant and that was probably why he would never be able to find them, because he does not understand.
Marcus gingerly opened his front door, careful not to make a sound. He tiptoed into the living room. His father, sprawled on the couch, beer bottle in hand, and the television still turned on, blasting sports commentary.
He squeezed the remote from his father’s other hand and turned off the television. He walked to his bedroom, closed the door and locked it. He was not taking any chances tonight. Especially since his father, clearly had a bad day.
He threw his school bag onto the floor and picked up the book off his table. It was a love story. He was having a hard time understanding it, which was probably why he was taking so long.
No one could blame him though. How could he when he had never seen such love. The kind of love that where you would die for the other person. The kind that overflows and spills out and overwhelms you.
He heard a knock on his door.
“Open up boy.” Came the gruff voice behind the fragile, wooden door.
He pressed himself against his wall.
He tried to sink into the wall.
A loud bang.
He closed his eyes. Arms lifted high, bracing for the impact.
He counted. To take his mind off things. He counted the number of blows. But still, he smelt the alcohol sweat of his father, he heard the sword words from his father’s mouth, the fireworks explosion of pain as each blow came down.
Finally, his father stopped. He stayed, curled up in a ball until he heard the click of the closing door. He got up. Climbed into bed.
He missed his mother. One day, he came home and his father told him that his mom had left to find love and she was never coming back. Then the drinking started, followed by the beatings. His father said it was to make him strong. But, Marcus knew it was because he looked too much like his mother.
He fell asleep dreaming of his mother.
She descended from the sky. They were on a beach. Endless sand and over-reaching horizon. They sat on a mat. He looked at his mother as did she. But her eyes were cold.
“Why did you leave?” He pleaded with her.
“Because I had nothing to hold me back. I had nothing and now I will have everything.”
“What about me?”
She cackled. Shaking her head.
“What about you?”
Marcus awoke with a jolt.
He got up slowly, his body aching from the beating he had last night. He examined his naked torso. It was decorated with bruises.
He put on a shirt and went out. He found his father lying in a pool of his vomit in the kitchen. Pots were lying around his body. This was an all too common sight. Marcus knelt down and picked up the pots. Placing them where they belonged. He took a rag from the kitchen table and wiped up the vomit. He left his father there though. He was not strong enough to carry his father.
He looked at his bruises in the steel reflection as his rearranged the pots. Staring back down at his father, he made his decision.
Walking back into his room, he sank to the floor, the tears coming freely. The two people he was supposed to trust the most in his life, the two people who were supposed to protect him and keep him safe until he was ready to walk out that door, the door that kept reality at bay, were the two people that had caused him the most pain, that had forced him out of his childhood and into the world of monsters. He collected his precious belongings, the ones that knew his secrets. Gathering them up, he put them in his backpack. Slinging his bag over his shoulder, he walked out of his room.
He took one last long look at his father lying on the cold marble floor.
He made a promise to himself there and then, never to trust anyone, no matter how much he was supposed to.
And he did not know this, but he was never to treat anyone with love. After all, how could he when he could not comprehend what that word was to even mean. To him, love was beatings, abandonment and alcohol. Nothing like the stories in that book his school made him read.
Marcus closed the door.
Sarah-Cae is a media and communications student in Singapore Polytechnic. When she isn’t spending precious time on school assignments, she can be found writing or star-gazing. She also cannot be expected to resign to maturity.