They spoke of forgiveness - even here, years later, Tutu might not say the word but it reeked of exoneration. People that still, after all this time, deserved judgement for the crimes but they were being asked to sweep all that under the rug. Out of sight, out of mind - because that always worked. Of course! Fail safe!
It fixed nothing, the crimes of yesterday were left festering inside of each of them. True, Hadrien himself had been a child at the time and only remembered the passing of the legislation by a party his parents had thrown that grew out of hand - but that didn’t matter. It was his life regardless, it was what he knew and had been taught.
It was taking the punishment of the corrupt into their own hands.
It was the men like Hadrien and his father, and the ladies like his mother as she wiped the floors of the guilty, that would truly bring South Africa into a new age.
Reading the words, hearing them in his head, but they didn’t capture him. They didn’t grab him and keep him tight in their hold and swoop him up in the stratosphere away from this sad earthly plane - it was an easy distraction, the legs that was starting across the grass in his direction. Not looking up from the pages, certain there was something so incredibly important the - his eyes flicked to the side and up over her - blonde girl had to do right past him.
A boy could hope.
His eyes flicking back again.
The grass rustling beneath her as she sat and Hadrien was forced to look over towards her. Making herself comfortable, burrowing out a nice little spot in the grass for herself, taking up his attention like it was her birthright. ”No Future Without Forgiveness. Desmond Tutu.” he replied, pushing all that from his brain as an easy smile hit his face.
It wasn’t about kindness, it was about making them think you were kind. ”Hi. I hope you don’t mind me taking up your space. I’d give it back but its already all warm and toasty under my seat.” Folding the pages around his finger and he leaned forward, “Hadrien.”
She nearly got lost in his casualness.
How strange it was that he found nothing wrong with spending his free time in a stranger’s yard, no? Arria would never dream of trespassing in such a way, but here this boy was—making himself comfortable under, admittedly, one of her favorite trees—reading a book and breathing evenly as if he somehow owned it. But, clearly, he didn’t—and he wasn’t a member of her family’s staff on a lunch break because she would have surely recognized him then, no. He was just…a stranger.
And she should have been weary.
But, Arria was never good with weary.
“I don’t believe I’ve heard of it,” she admitted. One glance at the book and she knew she wasn’t familiar, though it did look like something that could be found in her father’s library. The books on her kindle were dashing tales of adventure, fantastical and not at all true. In a world where reality seemed to get a little too serious, a little too dark—sometimes a story was all she had to break from that. Even her boyfriend, who was supposed to be her break among the chaos, wasn’t very good at pulling himself away from it either.
That was why she was out here, really—with a tray of cookies in her lap to make it look like she wouldn’t dare stray. It was funny that no one really knew better, that despite keeping a watchful eye on the girl, no one really knew what she was truly up to after she left the house. Of course, it was never anything dangerous—more so a walk in the park or a trip to the zoo, but they were things not normally on her agenda regardless.
Words that only seemed slightly apologetic left his lips and she immediately shook her head. “Oh, no no. I don’t mind at all,” she told him, allowing a smile to grace her expression as she spoke. “My mother or father may mind but, luckily, they aren’t around today.” Letting her curiosity go, never finding an appropriate time to ask him why he was there, she instead held out the tray to him, figuring it anyone would want a cookie, it would be a boy sitting under a tree. “Do you want one? They’re pumpkin chocolate chip.”
Her smile grew and she wondered for a moment if it looked fake – something her mother was always warning her about.
“I’m Arria, by the way. It’s nice to meet you.”
Rocks crunched beneath his shoes as he stepped out onto the long driveway. Half an ear listening to the rules, both those set by her mother as she gave them out and the ones given to her by the family that apparently “lived” inside.
Hadrien using the term loosely.
Anyone could have lived in the world right past that front door and he would have seen them the same. Rigid, pretentious dicks and dickettes - more concerned with the dollar than what their endless obsession created. Using anyone with the poor enough luck to have to share the air with them for any length of time as another rung on their oh-so important ladder to success.
"And only come inside if its an emergency."
A wordless salute towards his mother as she started towards the house, Hadrien left chewing at his thumbnail as he looked over the grounds. It was easy enough to tell which places were off limits to the help, and consequently, the family of the help.
The pool, the pool house - anything that involved the pool without cleaning it, off guard. Front door steps - what if someone were to drive by and see you there? Heaven forbid! The gardens solely for the enjoyment of the owners of the house and any unexpected company who were supposed to believe that it was all kept up my magical elves and not actual people with actual families that actually came along with them because they had somewhere to be after.
The whole lot of it.
Pulling his book from his light jacket and settling on a tree that seemed nonthreatening enough to sit beneath, finger rustling quick through the pages to where his bookmark lay as he started to read. Desmond Tutu’s No Future Without Forgiveness, his thoughts and beliefs for the future with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission far enough in the past to be reflected on. Not necessarily a light read but he believed it an important one as he gnawed at the ragged edge of a finger abused by a bad habit.
Arria found herself aching to get away once again, a task she could never seem to do with much grace. A tray of cookies in her in hands for Kopa as an excuse, if asked, and she attempted to make her way out the front door. Surely, she’d end up offering them to her driver; ask him to take her anywhere he saw fit because, honestly, she just needed a change of scenery.
But, before she could do that, she had to stop make small talk with all the help—the maid making her bed and the butler at the door—over the years she had learned all their names, their stories, and how they felt about life. That wasn’t something she could say for her parents, never quick to bat an eye at whoever was making them dinner, but Arria always said ‘thank you’. She always smiled and waved and, on occasion, asked if someone needed help.
Though it was only recently that she learned not to ask when her mother was around. We don’t pay them to do their job for them, dear, she would say, but Arria didn’t mind doing a load of laundry once in a while.
Honestly, it was refreshing.
But now, as she smiled and waved, she didn’t want to help. She didn’t want to talk about stories or life or the weather—none of it. She made her small talk quick, a trick she had learned at a very young age but master politicians like her father. They knew how to talk, yes, but they knew how to cut you off too—fortunately enough.
Out the door and she took in the fresh air as if she was deprived of it. She fumbled with the tray as she went to grab her phone, texting her driver a quick message before shoving it back into her pocket: ‘I know you’re on lunch, but when you’re done we should go on an adventure, yeah? Just you and me – but no rush! xo Arria’ Looking back up, she smiled into the air – glad to get away, if only for an hour.
But then she saw him (who ‘him’ was, she wasn’t sure) just sitting under a tree.
Reading, was he? How strange.
Arria knew he couldn’t have been a member of the staff—she knew every single one of them—so it was odd that he chose her lawn, of all places, to park his butt and read a book. She wasn’t going to judge, though—who was she too judge anyone’s actions but her own?—but, she needed to find out who this person was.
“Hello?” she called, unsure for once on how she was going to go about this encounter. Surely, she looked a bit dumb carrying around a tray of cookies. Should she ask who he was? Ask what business he had on her property?
Finding none of those appropriate as she approached him, she decided, instead, to sit down and inquire: “What are you reading?”