IN ANOTHER FUTURE – DAMIAN (1)
“I have done my part in declaring you as my successor. The rest is up to you. Graduate. Then this place is yours.”
The six year old Damian believed in his father’s promise and entered the Academy. He fiercely strove to graduate, as it was the only means towards achieving his goal of taking over his father’s position. No matter what was around him, his eyes never strayed. Because he wanted the meaning of his existence to be recognized.
When Damian was 13, he was informed that the Duke of Taran had gotten married. Damian didn’t think the news was anything special and merely noted it in his memory. A few months later, Damian was notified that he had been registered into legal status and received a portrait of the new Duchess/ his step-mother along with the news. The woman drawn in the painting was dressed in showy clothing and for some reason, both her expressions and posture looked rigid.
‘His Grace the Duke’s standards are lower than I thought.’
By Damian’s standards, the woman could never classify as a beauty.
‘A mother…is it?’
Since his status had become legal, it meant the Duchess was now his mother. However, Damian didn’t really feel like it meant much. Even if he met the Duchess in person, it was unlikely for him to be able to call her mother. Then again, he was sure the Duchess wouldn’t want to be called by such a title. The Duchess hadn’t even had her own children, yet she was dirtied by the likes of an illegitimate child. It was obvious to him how humiliated the Duchess would feel.
He had gained a new family, but he felt no joy. Anyways, he would only meet the Duchess after he graduated from the Academy. And even if they met, he would be glad if the Duchess simply ignored him instead of trying to harm him.
* * *
Damian didn’t pay anymore attention to the Duke’s marriage. He was focused only on studying. Although he was always ranked first, at other times, he was just an unremarkable student. There were guys who tried to pick fights with him when he was young but as they got older, they lost interest in Damian, who had nothing but excellent grades.
Damian was always alone. He wasn’t interested in anything other than his grades. He never once thought he needed a friend. He thought he felt no loneliness even though he was alone. But without even realizing it, the walls of solitude around Damian were growing higher and thicker. The boy who already didn’t smile much, gradually forgot how to smile.
Finally, when he finished all of his studies at the Academy and held his diploma in his hand, Damian felt a sense of emptiness rather than a sense of accomplishment. The result of what he consistently clung to for more than a decade was nothing more than a piece of paper. He believed he could prove his existence when he graduated but it was merely false hope.
‘I…Why did I want to become the Duke?’
The boy who only ran forward without reserve began to look back when he became a young man.
‘I wanted to receive father’s recognition.’
He wanted to be praised; he wanted to be told he had done well. However, after sending Damian to the Academy at six, his father didn’t even send a brief letter till he graduated.
‘It didn’t have to be me.’
The Duke didn’t choose Damian as his successor because of Damian himself, but because Damian was his only child. It wouldn’t matter if the position of ‘young lord’ went to the son the Duchess might have someday instead of Damian.
The winter he was seventeen, Damian realized something.
He was alone.