(Author’s Note: Warning, slight cursing. If you’re a Hetalia fan, you know why.)
I stood in the shower. There was no point in the shower, I just needed my face wet of something other than my own salty tears.
“Se tu m’ami~” I sang in the small bathroom.
“Se tu sospiri~ Sol per me, gentil pastor~” I didn’t understand why I was singing.
“Ho dolor de’ tuoi martiri~ Ho diletto del tou amor~” I sang this song in a competition, and that competition was over and done.
“Ma se pensi che soletto~ Io ti debba riamar~” But though the song is meant to be playful and flirtatious, I sang with tears mixing in with the shower water.
“Pastorello, sei soggetto~ Facilmente a t’ingannar~” My breath was choppy.
“Pastorello, sei soggetto~ Facilmente a t’ingannar~ Facilmente a t’ingannar~” My way of singing wasn’t even close to how it should be.
“Bella rosa porporina~ Oggi Silvio scegliera~” This was the only part of the song that possibly knew what I wanted to portray.
“Con la scusa della spina~ Doman poi la sprezzera~ Doman poi la sprezzera~” ‘Because the rose is thorny, soon they’ll all be thrown away’.
“Ma degli uomini il consiglio~ Io per me non seguiro~” ‘I will not follow the advice of men’.
“Non perche mi piace il giglio~ Gli altri fiori sprezzero~” ‘I want the rose, but shall I scorn to pluck the fair?’ I felt as though I was the rose I was singing about, cast away, unwanted. Still, I sang in a loop as I stood under the pounding water.
“Se tu m’ami~
“Se tu sospiri~
“Sol per me, gentil pastor~
“Ho dolor de’ tuoi martiri~
“Ho diletto del tou amor~
“Ma se pensi che soletto~
“Io ti debba riamar~
“Pastorello, sei soggetto~
“Facilmente a t’ingannar~
“Pastorello, sei soggetto~
“Facilmente a t’ingannar~
“Facilmente a t’ingannar~
“Bella rosa porporina~
“Oggi Silvio scegliera~
“Con la scusa della spina~
“Doman poi la sprezzera~
“Doman poi la sprezzera~
“Ma degli uomini il consiglio~
“Io per me non seguiro~
“Non perche mi piace il giglio~
“Gli altri fiori sprezzero~”
I really only entered the competition to prove to myself that I could really do anything. I did it as a test of my own abilities. That’s why I chose such a difficult song. The results, however, were a major slap in the face. I worked so hard, juggled with sickness, depression, school work, and a job. I spent several weeks in a small little practice room with nothing but a piano, a recorder, and my sheet music. For many days, I thought I would go insane until I would get a call from my papa, Lovino Vargas, that was a warning that he was at the school and I would be in trouble if I didn’t get to the car soon. I was told by my choir director and privet voice teacher that I could come out of the competition with a superior rating, a “1st prize” you might say.
I didn’t bring home the gold, though.
All I got was silver.
The night of the contest, February 20th, my papa swore to me that I would be in trouble later for not making sure my uncle, Feliciano Vargas, knew exactly where I needed to be dropped off to compete, therefore making me late for the contest.
He had to walk with me all over the school that hosted the competition just so we could find my room. When we got there, he took my phone, complained that the battery was almost dead again, and told me to stand around the corner to practice and warm up my voice while he stood at the corner and called my uncle, telling him where to move the car, and we waited for my turn in the room.
When it was time for me to go in the room, my papa wished me luck and I went in as a bundle of nerves. “Hello, my name is Justine Vargas, I will be preforming Se Tu M’ami by Alessandro Parisotti.” I gave my introduction. With a deep breath, I gave the piano player a glance and nod before singing the song.
My papa, who wasn’t allowed in the room with me, leaned on the door and listened. I didn’t know, however, until I glanced over and saw him in the window of the classroom door during the short piano bridge of the song before the repeat of the A section.
I finished, and the judge looked me in the eye and asked, “What is this song about?”
I froze. “…The poetic idea behind the song is…a woman loves a man, but she loves other men too…?”
The judge nodded and wrote something down before asking, “What does ‘Ma se pensi che soletto Io ti debba riamar’ mean?”
I hung my head in shame. I couldn’t answer. I couldn’t even remember where in the song I sang that. I tried to remember what my music said, what the poetic words were, but I was coming up blank. That’s…in the A section, second page, measure…15 that she’s talking about, I think. The lyrics of the whole page are ‘Ho dolor de’ tuoi martiri, Ho diletto del tou amor, Ma se pensi che soletto, Io ti debba riamar, Pastorello, sei soggetto, Facilmente a t’ingannar’. ‘Ho dolor de’ tuoi martiri, Hor diletto del tou amor’ means ‘Though I’m sad for you afflictions, and I’m glad for your affections’, and ‘Pastorello, sei soggetto, Facilmente a t’ingannar’ means ‘Gentle friend be not deceived, I could never love on you alone’, but what was between that? I asked myself desperately.
“It means,” the judge stated, seeing that I was taking too long to answer. “’If you think I must love you in return, you’re mistaken’.” she answered. “You have a beautiful voice, a strong song, have fun with it. You should have had a twinkle in your eye when you sang those lines.” I only could nod as I dismissed myself and went out the door.
When I got in the hall, my papa hugged me tight. “Don’t worry about a damn thing.” he reassured me. “You were great ragazza.”
I pulled away from him only to be hugged by my choir director. “That was the most beautiful you’ve ever sang.” she commented. “I don’t cry easy over singing, but I’m crying! This is a big deal! That should be a One hands down. Results would be up by Monday. Look for your One and medal.”
“You see?” my papa stated. “You’re director knows what she’s talking about for a change.” He then took me in his arm and walked me out the nearest door. When we got to the car, my uncle asked how it was and my papa told him I blew the other kids out of the water, mentioning that even my director was brought to tears by my ‘amazing performance’.
I only stared out the window, not thinking quite the same thing. Was reciting the English lyrics the difference between a Two and a One?
Two days later, I got an email from my choir director saying that I got a Two, though she mentioned that it should’ve been a One. She tried to convince me through the email that I was really good and I shouldn’t let it get to me, like she knew exactly how I would react to seeing the result. My eye’s didn’t process the words however. I only wanted to get my face wet and wash off the sticky, salty tears that ran from my eyes down my chin, dripping onto my shirt, and make a loud noise to cover my choppy breaths and sobs. So, I hurried to the shower, not even acknowledging my papa and uncle who saw me rush to the bathroom.
Over half an hour later, I left the shower and slipped into a robe. I never bothered to dry my face so that I could have an excuse for if they ask if I’ve been crying. Tying the belt of the robe, I opened the door. Much to my surprise, my papa was standing right there with his arms crossed and a brow raised. My uncle was down the hall a ways away with a sad, concerned look on his childish face. “What happened?” my papa asked coldly.
I forced a smile on my face and snuck around him. “Nothing.” I stated. “I just felt like I needed a quick shower is all. You know, to clear my sinuses? I’ve made it this far in the month without a sick day, don’t wanna get sick now.”
I made the mistake of thinking that got me off the hook. To my surprise, he snatched my arm when I started to hurry back to my room. “A quick shower, hu?” he questioned. “Right, because everyone in their right mind calls a half hour of standing under the running facet a ‘quick shower’.” He then looked closer and sighed. “Your face is wet too.” he noticed. “When you leave the shower, drying your face is always your first priority. That hasn’t changed. You hate your face wet.” he stated. “Also, your eyes are red.”
“The towels were all damp anyway.” I defended. “Even if I used them to dry my face, it wouldn’t help much, so I was going to use my sleeves on the way to my room.” I stated. “And as for my eyes, I got soap in them, so that’s why they’re red, and that’s also why my face is more wet than usual.”
Still, my papa didn’t buy it. “What happened, ragazza?”
I couldn’t take it. I just started to sob all over again. “…I’m not…good enough.” I confessed. “I’m just…second best.” This peeked both my papa’s and my uncle’s attention, so I showed them the email I got from my choir director.
When my papa finished reading the email, he pulled me over and hugged me so tight, I thought he would break my spinal chord. “I know how much this meant to you.” he stated. “But you are NOT just second best! You are the most beautiful singer I know, the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard! You were singing before you could talk! Who cares what one bitch from a fancy school says?” he questioned, grabbing my face to look me right in the eye. “You are NOT fucking silver. You are no less than pure gold.”
He pulled me in to hug me again as I huffed, “But, the judge said that it wasn’t superior because I couldn’t remember the exact poetic English words. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter how I sounded. It only mattered how much I remembered.”
My papa rubbed my back for a while before saying, “Well then, she didn’t read her job description. This is probably the only time I’m going to agree with your choir director. You deserve a superior rating.” After some time, he chuckled. “I’ve got an idea.” he stated, letting me go and heading out of my room. “Get dressed ragazza, and wear something you would wear to the competition.” he instructed, now scaring me by skipping out the door. “When you’re ready, come to the office!”
I looked at him confused and frightened, but didn’t question. I got dressed in a royal blue blouse and black slacks, tied my hair in a ponytail, put on my sapphire earrings and my good luck charm necklace. I stared at my reflection for a long while. What is Papa thinking up this time?
When I walked in the office room, my papa was sitting at his desk with a serious look on his face and his fake glasses over his green-brown eyes. He changed into a business suit and tie with a pen in his hand and papers orderly on the large desk. On the other side of the room was the piano Roderich gave to us as a Christmas gift. My uncle sat at on the chair with music sheets on the stand. Even he looked so professional.
Alright, my papa smiling, that was creepy. My papa in a business suit, that was confusing. My papa skipping and giggling like a school girl, that made me think I died and woke up in Luciano’s and Flavio’s house again (long story). My uncle…Feliciano Vargas…sitting up straight and professional?! I thought it was an April Fools day prank!
“…Papa,” I called. “You do realize it’s still February…right?”
My papa glanced at his papers and adjusted his unneeded glasses. “Si.” he answered. “It is February 20th, 2015.” I widened my eyes as I started to piece together what this was all about. My papa started to look through more papers. “Now, Ms. Vargas,” he said squarely and with so much formality, I didn’t believe it was him. “I believe your song is Se Tu M’ami by Alessandro Parisotti?”
I could only gasp. He was recreating the competition. I didn’t know if I should thank him or slap him across the face and lock myself in my room, maybe even run off to my uncle Antonio’s for a month or three. Regardless, I nodded, playing along. My papa leaned on the desk. “Then go on. I’m ready when you’re ready.”
“…Bella?” my uncle called from the piano. “Can you set the tempo?”
I nodded and picked up my hands, starting to conduct him. When he got a good feel for the tempo, I dropped my hands and sang the song just as I practiced it, restating the tempo for my uncle when it was supposed to change.
When I was done, my papa coughed in his hand, quickly whipping his face. I’m sure it was just some dust in his eye, the room was a little dusty. “What is this song about?” he asked with a deep breath.
Just as before, I froze. “…The poetic idea behind the song is…a woman loves a man, but she loves other men too.”
Again, my papa looked through more papers before leaning back in his chair and asking, “What does ‘Con la scusa della spina Doman poi la sprezzera’ mean?”
I smiled, my confidence returning. “’Because the rose is thorny, soon they’ll all be thrown away’.” I answered. “It’s talking about how when the woman finds complications in a man, she will leave them and move on to the next man. Sadly, there aren’t enough men around, because all men have flaws, at which time, they’re all thrown away.” My papa gave a small smile as he nodded and dismissed me from the room.
Only a few minutes later, he came out of the office and gave me the paper he was writing on, as well as a blue ribbon on a gold pin. My smile was so wide, my eyes were squinted and tears blurred what vision was left. “What does that paper say?” I asked, trying to wipe the joyful tears away only for them to be replaced seconds later.
He smiled as he looked at the paper again. “Far more superior than just ‘Second Best’.”