The Broken Lift

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Chapter 1

“Children have neither past nor future.

They enjoy the present, which very few of us do.”

Jean de La Bruyère

September 24, 1986

Restaurant BellaCiao, Rue Condorcet

Grenoble, France

07:17 PM

“When I met you, I knew I’d met my match. It was only a matter of time until we arrived at this moment. How it turns out is all in your hands,” Alberto said to Janet as he went down on his knees and brought out the box he’d kept in his jacket pocket since they had arrived in the restaurant. He opened the small brown plastic box and turned it around, so the ring faced Janet. “Please make me the happiest man on the planet and be my wife,” Alberto said as he looked straight into her eyes.

Janet put her hands to cover her mouth as she watched the love of her life propose to her. She certainly wasn’t expecting the proposal to unfold now, in this manner. On their way to the restaurant, Alberto had stopped his old German car at a store where he had gotten a silver wristwatch for Janet. Janet always liked silver accessories.

She never knew Alberto had met with the attendant and purchased the ring she had been admiring, so he could gift it to her now.

“Yes, I will, yes I will,” Janet shouted as she stretched her palm to Alberto and he slid the ring into her fingers. She was brimming with excitement and she didn’t even notice when tears began running down her eyes. She stood up from the seat she was on and went to help Alberto up. They kissed each other and then hugged, while the rest of the patrons in the restaurant clapped for them. Janet looked around, watching the smiles on the faces of the onlookers, and then returned her head to the warm chest of her husband-to-be.

Alberto was a French-Italian man who’d been living in the Alps, Grenoble, ever since he left his parent’s home at Metz following an offer at a banking firm for the job of a Data Processing Officer. At first, he stayed with a friend, but after four months of saving up, he was able to move into his own apartment. It was nearly a year later, that he met Janet.

Janet was a Canadian-French woman born and brought up in Nunavut, Canada, who moved to France after the death of her father. She worked as a reporter and it was while she was reporting about a case close to the bank that Alberto worked at, when she met him. They exchanged numbers at a gym where they met the second time, after which they officially started dating.

Janet was married to Alberto two years after their first meeting. She moved into her husband’s Alpine residence, where they lived happily. Three years passed, but the couple were yet to have a child. They had undergone a series of tests, but apparently nothing wrong was with them. Perhaps they were being impatient, but three years felt like a long time already.

Then, one evening, something happened and life wouldn’t be the same again.

As Alberto returned home from work, calling out to Janet, he got no reply. He dropped his briefcase in the sitting room and went to the bedroom where he found her in a bad state, her eyes swollen as if she had just woken up and her face puffy. Alberto had seen her before he left for office that morning and she looked fine then. Or maybe he hadn’t paid attention since he was in a rush? Alberto went closer and asked her what was happening but she didn’t answer. He became tensed, repeating the question over and over again – however, she wouldn’t respond. Not knowing what else to do, he lifted her, took her to his car and drove off to a hospital. He glanced at her several times on their way to the emergency room, wondering what might be wrong with her. Janet continued to shuffle uncomfortably, twisting and turning on her seat throughout the ride.

“Your wife is pregnant. All that is happening to her is natural. Let her start coming for ante-natal care,” Mr. Franklin, one of the doctors at the hospital advised. Alberto was overwhelmed with joy as soon as he heard the news. He couldn’t wait to start shopping for the baby, but they would have to wait for a bit since he didn’t know the child’s sex yet. He thanked the doctor and left to meet Janet in the ward to find out how she was faring, and stayed with her for some time before a nurse came to let him know that they were free to leave. Alberto didn’t break the news of her pregnancy until they both reached home.

Lucca grew up the way most single children did.

He enjoyed a great deal of care from his parents, who were also his best friends. However, in Lucca’s case, they were his only friends. He never socialized with any of his peers in his neighborhood or at school. Lucca was a lone wolf. A brilliant lone wolf. He was always at the top of his class, which meant many kids wanted to get close to him. But, Lucca inadvertently pushed them away. Many saw Lucca as proud, but he didn’t care. He was who he was.

Alberto drove him to school every weekday morning, and he would walk down to his class with his specs on, his clothes and shoes sparkling clean. Lucca’s eyes didn’t suffer from any defect that needed glasses; rather it was one of his self-developed quirks that’d led him urging his mother to get him one. All of the successful people he knew wore glasses, including his own father and he presumed he needed one too, if he was to stand a chance at becoming successful in the near future. His father had tried to explain that things didn’t work that way, but Lucca’s mind was already fixated on his own philosophies. Janet later got one for him at the market.

Alberto and Janet continued to hope that they would be blessed with a sibling for their son. Lucca also wished he would find another playmate beside the ones he had - his parents. Sadly, those wishes wouldn’t come true.

Alberto bought his son a computer when Lucca complained that his toys weren’t enough. He wasn’t going to turn the computer into a game console like other kids did; it was an engrossing gadget he used to fill any spare time he had. He began to learn more and more about the computer, and one day, told his father he wanted to become a computer specialist in the future. His fascination with the computer didn’t hinder his academics in any way. Instead, while he continued to gain knowledge from class, he perfected his education from items he would find on the internet. The internet had got a new user - Lucca.

When Lucca became a teenager, apart from his physical appearance, nothing about him had changed. 14 years, and Lucca couldn’t boast of any friend yet. Whenever he got back from school, he spent the remainder of the evening in his room, tinkering with his age-old computer system.

On one boring weekend, Lucca was chatting with his mother at length, when she began telling him stories about his Italian roots. From that day onwards, Lucca grew obsessed with his culture, never missing any opportunity at bringing the topic up with his parents. He used the internet to learn a lot about the people and their lifestyles. He downloaded several movies and fell in love with them, especially the ones that had to do with mafias.

Lucca never left Grenoble as a child but he was already well versed with lots of places.

His dream was to travel far away one day, to achieve his independence and pursue the specialization he loved.

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