Idol

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Idol - 1973 - Age 4

I woke up in the hospital. The last thing I knew was that we were driving home from Church. Mom and Dad were arguing over me pretending to be a girl at a pageant. It was my fault they were fighting. I forgot that mom told me not to tell Dad. It ended with Dad being unable to concentrate on driving and arguing with mom. He drove into a tree.

The first I seen at the hospital were my brothers. They only had some scratches and bruises. The same with me. The doctor said that we were very lucky to be alive and it was good that we wore seatbelts. I was full of energy, so it was hard being told to lay in bed because the doctors and nurses had to observe me.

Life at the hospital was so boring. It was also lonely. I could see parents visit the other children. My parents were in another place in the hospital, so they could not visit me. I was not allowed to see my parents and this made me worry about them. I tried asking my brothers, but they would not answer me. They blamed me for the car accident, saying that mom and Dad were fighting about me. They said that I have just been a problem since I was born.

Dad finally came to visit us. He had a broken hand and looked like he had a thousand scratches on his face. He spent most of his time sitting with my brothers. He told me he wanted to speak with them first. I knew something was wrong when I saw them crying. They still managed to give me mean looks. I knew that something was wrong and somehow I knew it was my fault.

When Dad came to my bed, he told me that we would soon be going home. I asked where mom was, and he simply said that she was in heaven. Then he left. I was left with lots of questions I needed an answer for, and I noticed that Dad did not have time for me or even hug me.

Moms funeral came, and I did not understand it very much. I could not understand why she was in the coffin and would not come out. I could not understand that mom was in heaven and would never be able to hug me again and tell me how special I was. My oldest brother Cameron told me afterwards that Mom was dead because of me. This meant that I was no longer special and I would never be famous.

Things did change. My fourth birthday was shortly after the funeral. We did not even celebrate this. I had a small party with my dolls. I now had to get used to that I was no longer special and had no bright future. I had to accept that I would grow up and not be like Shirley Temple. I would be the boy known for not keeping a secret and getting his mother killed.

Things were not going so well for my Dad either. Besides the fact that he was in a depression and in mourning over losing his wife, he now lost his job and for some reason, he could not find a new job. This means that Dad was at home. He would grumble and complain that he could not get a job. Then he would complain that he now had to be a breadwinner, a mother and a father. It must have been a huge struggle for Dad to adapt to the new life without mom.

Dad lost his job a lot of times and usually, he could get a new job. Maybe this was because he had mom as support. Now he could not and this meant that he could no longer pay for the house that we lived at. We moved to a small apartment in the middle of the town. I remember that this place was very small. I no longer had my room. I had to sleep with my brothers. The apartment had a funny smell and sometimes we saw mice. I guessed that a family of mice lived with us. It was also noisy, as we could hear neighbours shout and argue all the time.

We now lived in poverty. Dad would sleep on the sofa all day and we would eat what was in the fridge. This was mostly food that granny came with, as Dad could not be bothered to shop. He complained that he had no money.

My brothers always bothered Dad about getting new clothes. They were now 9 and 11 years old and a bit more aware of what they wore. They would always get the same answer, that there was no money for clothes. Dad was not even strict with them. My brothers were allowed to go out and play. They were no longer forced to sit and study all day. They now spent most of their time with friends around the apartment block.

I was not allowed to go out. I spent most of my time with my dolls. I always expected mom to come back and would feel that it was my fault that she was dead. If I just kept the secret that she wanted, then she would be alive.

Granny was worried that I was small for my age and my clothes were so small. She ended buying some clothes. She told Dad that they were unisex clothes as mom always wanted to make me aware of my feminine side. Dad either accepted this or did not care. Granny may have thought they were unisex, but to me, they were very girly. I wore a lot of pink. I had no socks, just tights. I may not have worn dresses or skirts, but I could understand if people thought that I was a girl.

I was asked by the Parish priest to sing a song during mass. This was after he heard me singing at Sunday school. This seemed to have woken Dad up and made him smile for the first time in ages. Dad had my hair cut for the occasion and dressed me in a shirt and tie and shorts. He was very proud that at last, a member of the family would stand in front of the people at mass and praise God.

I was somewhat nervous when I stood before the congregation. I chose to sing “How great thou art” as it was a song that I liked. I started singing in a low and shy voice, but when I saw the people, I could see that they were smiling. Then I started smiling and singing aloud in a clear voice. I could see the audience was amazed at my singing as they swayed and praised God as I sang. When I finished, they are stood up and clapped. I felt like I was the centre of the universe. I bowed and smiled.

After Church, the priest was speaking with Dad. He wanted to know how old I was. Dad said that I was nearly 5. The priest then admitted that he never heard such an angelic voice before, and it was amazing that such a young child as me had such a beautiful voice and charm. The priest joked and said that I would be a very popular singer if I performed.

Dad was no longer depressed. He was considering what the priest had said. I could be a performer and make many people happy. I could even get a record contract and make sure that Dad would never need any money again. Dad always had second thoughts about me becoming a celebrity. He still did not like the idea. It was as if he was changing his mind every day.

He even spoke with Granny. Granny said that I had a lot of talent and my smile could warm up a room. She said other children that were celebrities had less talent than me. Some of these children were film stars or had record contracts. Granny reminded Dad that Mom always knew that I was destined to be something big. Maybe it was time that Dad trusted in what mom thought and wanted.

It’s amazing how most of my life, Dad did not notice me or want me to be famous. Now that he looked at me, he had dollar signs in his eyes all the time. Dad took me to visit moms grave, where he told her that her dream that I would be famous did not die with her. He had decided that his new job was to be my manager and he will guide me to fame. Dad then looked sternly at me and then down to mom and said that I will be Gods tool on Earth. I would only be singing Gospel songs or Christian songs. God has given me a talent, and I would use it for God.

It was not like that I was suddenly performing for people. I was still only known in the Church group. This did not bother Dad. He had me practising every day. I had to learn one song after another song. Dad would sit on a chair and make sure that I would remember all the words and the tones. He would tell me how to stand and where to look. He would tell me to sing with a smile. People had to see my charm, my innocence and my Catholic heart he said.

At times, I was jealous of my brothers. They now had all the freedom that they wanted and would play outside with all their friends. I was forced to continue practising singing and how to sing. I was tired of singing the same songs and wished that Dad would teach me new ones. Dad would get mad when I pleaded to take a break. I was told not to waste the talent that God had given to me.

One night, granny was babysitting me. Dad was at a party and this meant that I could take a break from practising. However, when I was asleep, Granny woke me up and said we had to go. I looked out the window and it was pitch dark. I asked Granny what time it was. She said that it was nearly 2 am. I was never up this late.

I had a nightgown with a unicorn on it. I never considered it girls clothes. I wore lots of girl things at any rate and never questioned what granny put on me. I could hardly stand because I was so tired. Granny lifted me and put me in an old stroller I had. I fell asleep once again.

It was still dark when Dad woke me up. I was in the stroller and at the party that he was at. He told me that the others wanted to hear me sing. Granny and Dad were fighting. Granny reminded him that I was only 4 years old, while Dad asked her if she could not find anything else that did not make me look like a sissy. I did not want the two of them to fight, so I took Dads’s hand.

There was a small crowd of 20 people. I started singing a song and remembered all the moves and even smile. It was as if my tiredness was forgotten. I had a job to do. I had to entertain the people that were here. I could see that they loved my voice and the performance. When I was done, they stood up and clapped and wanted another song. I was willing to sing another one, but Dad told me that I was tired and needed some sleep. So I slept on a sofa while the grown-ups were drinking.

I did wake up and sat up on the sofa looking for Dad. I have seen him dancing with a woman and kissing her. At first, I thought it was mom. Then I could see that she did not look like mom.

Why was Dad kissing this woman?


To be continued.
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