audio version of A Misunderstanding
Excuses? I have none. Questions? Many. Was it the absence of peers? My relative seclusion? Admittedly, I was a pampered member of the House of Winston. And whose fault was that? Mine? And why now -- must the foundations of my existence crumble? Where have I erred? Who have I wronged? Why am I doomed? I hear the whispers of our staff lap up the circular stairway, across the plush ruby carpet --- the murmurs of friends. Men and women I have adored. I sense their regret. But, why is mine ignored? Why must I be banished?
With difficulty, I lift pen in my own defense, certain that neither Ellen nor Philip Winston, my adoptive parents, suspect I have the ability or desire to communicate.
“Mother! Ellen!” I howl.
Ellen Winston, queen of my universe. Ellen whom I have adored since birth, matriarch of my home.
“Father! Philip!” I cry.
Philip Winston, king of my domain. You called. You demanded. I came. I obeyed. Ellen? Philip? Do you suspect? Care? After all the love I've dispensed; do your hearts anguish? Perhaps not.
Then why should I desire self-expression? Or attempt to legitimize my plight? To avoid blame? Certainly not! I pen this brief history so that after I depart, the events of my life, as I remember them, will be chronicled. And may be of service to another in a similar situation.
I'm certainly not making excuses for my disposition. Call environment the culprit, then neither of my pseudo-parents will suffer disparaging remarks and I can continue in a factual vein.
My real mother was just as spoiled as I. She (I heard, from more than one discontented girl servant, and later confirmed by Ivan, our rather loutish valet) demanded constant attention and adoration. In all honesty, I never solicited recognition of my lineage nor sought special privileges for my particular station in life. Though named after a Caesar, (Otto, founder of the Holy Roman Empire, a name I detested) I was shy, appreciative, and quite content with my situation. Unaware of course that my lavish surroundings were unique.
Even at an early age, I was cognizant of the effect my presence had as I entered a room. One event I remember vividly. It was a special party, the Winston's 15th wedding anniversary. "Angelic," one of the assemblage cried as I pranced in nude. "How bright and handsome," another added. At that moment in my youth, I was unable to comprehend the meaning of the words. But, I understood the tone of voice and noting the pride in my parents' eyes, I drew myself tall, strutting from person to person, until I was shuffled off to bed by one of the more belligerent members of our staff. That night I whimpered till dawn. The next morning, my entire life was altered abruptly. My leisurely childhood had come to an end. My education commenced. And with it all, my natural curiosity was pruned. My borderless universe enclosed.
I was rousted at ungodly hours, usually by Ivan the Lout. My toilet, which had here-to-fore been a simple process of body elimination, became an extended ritual. Every orifice was inspected. I was groomed, powdered and perfumed.
Later, I was taken from instructor to instructor to learn the proper way to do this or that. Any reluctance or hesitation on my part was dealt with instantly by a blow on one part of my anatomy or another. I don't pretend to be a martyr, for occasions of physical abuse were seldom. As my education proceeded, chastisement became less frequent and more often than not I was bathed in garlands of praise, for I took to my instructors and lessons eagerly, always innately trying to please them and through them my adoptive parents. And in my own behalf, I feel I succeeded.
At my debut, I was singled out from all the others of my peers for special accolades. The name Otto resounded in room after room as I proved I had learned my lessons well. My parents and instructors stood at my side time after time as I brought praise to the House of Winston. Though, now it appears that it was all for naught.
My possessions are stacked neatly in the foyer. My parents have said their goodbyes. "It's all for the best, Otto." Each member of our staff has reassured me in turn. So having little recourse, I am off. Off to a farm. And a most peculiar place it must be, where spikes of chrome and gold burst through the well furrowed ground.
Ivan the lout has gone for the car. I end this essay with tears in my eyes and Ivan's last words echoing down the staircase. "A stud farm! Otto, you lucky dog!"