A boy wanders woefully down a dusky Sicilian beach, the sun slowly setting over the slumbering ocean. The pebbles beneath his feet are coarse and scratch his skin. He doesn't notice. His thoughts are elsewhere.
'Ciao Giovanni.' He turns his head, sighs, resents the intrusion. 'Ciao Paulo.' He walks faster. 'Giovanni…cosa c'e'? He wonders why he must explain himself to everyone. 'Niente, niente…ciao.' He continues along the now darkening shoreline. He has been rude to his friend, he didn't want to be, but he is in no mood for empty conversation. He is in the mood to be alone.
A girl sits solitary by a foggy Yorkshire window, watching the relentless rain. The radiator beside her is beginning to burn her skin. She doesn't notice. Her thoughts are elsewhere.
The phone rings. She turns her head, sighs, resents the intrusion. 'Dad again.' She checks the caller display and lets the machine answer. 'Hello…it's dad…can ya' ring me back please.' She wonders how a voice can make her feel so threatened. The sound invades her sanctuary and makes her shudder. 'Go away.' She deletes the message. She has offended her father, he knows she's there, but she is in no mood for a confrontation. She is in the mood to be alone.
It's late. The sky is black. The boy can't sleep. His mind is always searching, inside, outside, seeking a solution. The suffocating, sweltering darkness turns his probing eyes inward and the turmoil tires him. He sleeps, and dreams…of a loving father.
He dreams his father appears in the empty doorway, proud and smiling, reaching out arms filled with love and apologies. He is a child again. His father lifts him up and looks at him admiringly. Next he is a man, his father confides in him. It was all a mistake, a misunderstanding. His father is here now and he's here to stay. He is eager to know…his son.
It's late. The sky is grey. The girl can't sleep. Her mind is always searching, inside, outside, seeking a solution. The all-consuming, chilling darkness turns her probing eyes inward and the turmoil tires her. She sleeps, but dreams…of her loathing father.
She dreams her father appears in her doorway, cold and condemning. She is a child again. He berates her for singing, for talking, for making his head hurt. Next she is older, he's shouting again. Suspicious, and bitter, he turns away, ignoring her words. He refuses to listen, he refuses to trust, he refuses to see…his daughter.
This boy and girl are seas apart, but both haunted by one spectre, both harbouring a deep regret and hiding an enormous chasm. Each one estranged in a different way, each one bewildered.
The boy has never met his father. They live in different places. When he left this sleepy town behind, he also left his unborn son. All the boy has is a dirty old photograph with creased edges, of a young, skinny man with dark hair and green eyes. A picture from the past, that he keeps in a creaky drawer and looks at in secret, so as not to upset his mother. He searches the face for similar features but finds none. They share a name but nothing more.
He often wishes he could know his father. Whatever he may be. Nothing could be worse than the emptiness of abandonment.
The girl lived with her father for nearly eleven years. They lived in many places. At first she was his tiny treasure but the novelty became a nuisance. All the girl has are distressing memories, of an angry man with cruel eyes and a scathing voice. Pictures from the past, that she carries with her in a noisy mind and tries to discard; they depress her mother. She used to search his face for similar features but she found none. She realised that his face just like his heart could never be shared.
She often wishes she'd never known her father. However that may feel. Nothing could be worse than the humiliation of rejection.
A suntanned boy, a pallid girl, different, but the same. Each one hurting, sometimes hating, always wishing, things were different. Longing for one loving look, one caring word…acknowledgment. Each one, believing they're alone.
On quiet afternoons, these separated siblings both huddle in corners and scribble in notebooks, unaware of their connection. They pour their hearts into clean white pages and place the words they long to say on a shelf where no one will see.
In the shadowy hours before sleep, when daytime objects become crouching monsters, and the walls sigh and complain from the pressures of holding everything together, the boy and the girl close their eyes and travel to the same place. On a jagged cliff over a stormy sea, they shout their words across the ocean for the wind to steal. 'You don't even know me.' 'Non la conosco.' 'You're hurting me.' 'Mi fa male.' 'What's wrong with me?' Their agony explodes with each crashing wave. Their salty tears return to the infinite depths below them. Finally they scream at the thunderous sky in unison, the question that burns the fiercest. 'Papa…Dad…why don't you love me?'
Night becomes day. The boy wanders down the dawning beach. He wanders and wonders. He turns to the rolling waves and shouts. He feels the wind wrenching at his face and he sends his pain across the water, away, away, away.
Night becomes day. The girl wanders through the relentless rain. She wanders and wonders. She looks into the sky and cries. She feels the cool raindrops washing the hot tears from her face and the water washes her pain away, away, away.