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“It’s today! It’s today!” Francesco ebulliently bounded up and down the hall waking his parents and little sister Sophia.

“Settle down and go pack your things,” David, Francesco’s father groggily emerged from his room, “your mother’s trying to sleep.”

Francesco had waited for this day for weeks now. Every morning he would follow the same routine of waking up and marking off another day on his calendar before brushing his teeth and taking a shower. This morning though, he stumbled out of bed shook his jet black hair into position and rubbed his sky blue eyes as they opened before looking at the calendar and proceeding to jump up and down yelling obnoxiously.

“What was that daddy?” the 3 ½ foot tall, Sophia appears with a fist balled over one vibrant green eye.

“Nothing sweetie, go on to sleep, you already have everything packed for the trip right?”

“Yes daddy,” Sophia turned to go back into her room, “I love you.”

Just then Francesco bursts back out of his room, backpack in hand, and runs to the door flinging it open and zooming out into the front yard. The birds were singing and small children were riding their bikes through the small cul-de-sac. The frost still crisp on the grass from the night before and the cool morning air cut into his lungs like a razor. The sun, peeking over a fence of puffy white clouds, had risen only moments ago but the temperature was already beginning to rise.

“Baby, come back inside we have to eat breakfast before we leave.” Sarah, Francesco’s mother, was standing in the doorway, her chocolate brown hair half curled and still in her pink satin robe.

“But we’ll miss the boat.” Francesco whined and pleaded with her. Eventually though, he reluctantly returned to the house.

Once inside Francesco join his mother father and sister at the dining room table for a breakfast of omelets and orange juice. Before he had the chance to even stab an egg with his fork his mother grabbed one hand his father the other, and they proceeded to say grace. After breakfast Francesco and his sister retired to the children’s bathroom to brush their teeth and make themselves presentable before going off on their first cruise ever.
As they leave the bathroom Sophia whispers in her brother’s ear, “How’s the toilet taste?” She asked menacingly

“What do you mean?”

“I dipped your toothbrush in the toilet and refilled your rinse cup with toilet water.” She giggled.

He reached to grab her by the collar but she was too quick. She shot down the hallway Francesco right on her heals knocking obstacles down as she passed by them. Right as Francesco could feel his fingertips brush the back of her neck she was lifted off the ground and onto the shoulders of their father.

“Just what exactly do you two think you’re doing?” David looked as if he’d been laying face up in the sun for hours.

Francesco opened his mouth to speak but was quickly interrupted.

“He was going to hit me daddy.” Sophia exclaimed in her most innocent voice.

“Is this true Franky?” His father now looked even angrier than before.

Francesco simply dropped his head and nodded in defeat. But, silently he made a vow to get her back before the end of the night.

“Looks like you don’t get to play your game or watch any movies then until we get on the boat, maybe next time you’ll think twice before you threaten your sister.”

After everyone was dressed and ready they piled up the family car and set off for Santo Stefano. They were only driving 10 minutes before Sophia started incessantly repeating she needed to use a restroom. After a minute and thirty seconds of listening to this, David pulled the car to the next exit and made a stop at the gas station. Sophia occupied the restroom while Francesco found his favorite candy bar. There were only two left, but as Sophia returned she grabbed one, through the other to the floor and stomped on it. She then gingerly asked her father to buy her the only one remaining. Francesco was furious. He settled for a bag of chips and a soda and returned to the car where his sister taunted him with her chocolate.

After approximately 3 more minutes of driving Sophia raised her right hand and slapped herself in the face. She began to cry cajoling David to look back to see a red splotch on her left cheek and Francesco staring out the opposite window.

“What happened baby?” David sounded slightly irritated

“Franky hit me.” She balled

Francesco attempted to voice his protests but before he had the chance the car had squealed to a halt on the side of the highway. David jumped out of the driver’s side of the car and slammed the door behind him. He flung open Francesco’s door and yanked him out by his arm.

“I’m getting real tired of your s*** boy!” He stripped Francesco of his pant and removed his own belt. He then proceeded to punish him generously for 15 seconds or so getting in five good lashings.

“But I didn’t even do anything to her.” He cried out in anguish.

David then added one last crack of his belt and exclaimed, “And that one’s for lying to me, now get back in the car and buckle up.”

After the car had started moving and Sophia was sure her father’s eyes were safely fixed on the road, she turned with a smirk to her brother and stuck out her tongue. By this point Francesco was boiling with animosity and was already planning his revenge. They were only moments away from boarding the Costa Concordia and the children were both very excited to be on their first cruise, but not excited enough to make Francesco forget his vow of vengeance.

“Okay, are you to ready to board?” Sarah peered over her shoulder at her two children with a gentle smile. “Sophia you hold my hand, and Francesco you stay by your father, you two stay close now and don’t get lost.”

The four of them simultaneously opened the doors to their Honda civic 4x4 and filed out into the crowded parking lot. Sophia quickly grabbed her mother’s hand and began pulling her towards the ship. Francesco reluctantly walked up and stood beside his father. He was still sore from his earlier encounter with his father’s belt. He looked at his sister, who still wore an evil smile, and imagined her getting payback for all her cruel deeds. He took joy in savoring this thought before boarding the ship.

They went to their room and unpacked their things. Francesco took the top bunk by seniority rule and Sophia agreed to sleep on the bottom if she could have the large cedar chest all to herself for all of her stuff. Francesco deceitfully obliged.

“Okay baby, it’s time to go to the dining hall for dinner,” Sarah softly kissed David’s cheek. “So go clean up and get dressed. I’ll be in right behind you.”

While their parents were in the other room getting dressed Sophia ripped one sleeve off of Francesco’s favorite dress shirt. He did not retaliate however for he had already formulated a plan for vengeance against his sister. She looked confused.

“What you gonna do about it baby.” Sophia fake rubbed her eyes taunting him.

“Nothing at all, I’ll just wear this one.” Francesco removed a blue dress shirt with short sleeves from his bag and quickly slipped it on.

“Ha, that one’s stupid.” She pushed her tongue between her lips.

Just then their parents emerged from the other room and rushed them out the door. They walked down a long hallway until they stepped out onto the catwalk of the ship overlooking the vast ocean. They took a left and walked to the ships dining room for the buffet and were seated by a blonde young lady in a dress shirt with a name tag that read Kayce.

“How many?” She asked sweetly

“Four.” Answered David in a hoarse voice. “Two adults, two children.”

They were seated and brought drinks and silverware and plates. Then it was time to go and fill their plates. Francesco started off with a steak accompanied by a salad and mashed potatoes. Sophia wanted salmon and crab legs with a side of soup. Sarah had a salad and a slice of garlic bread. And David had wings and pizza. After their first course everyone went back for seconds and then desert. David and Sarah went to the sky deck to relax and told the kids to go to the game room and play, Francesco however, had different plans.

This would be the perfect chance to get his revenge. While Sophia went to play with the other kids he went back to their suite and hid away in the cedar chest so when his sister opened it that night he could jump out and scare her. The top of the chest slammed above him and locked from the outside. He sat in wait planning and practicing his scariest faces and roars so when the door opened above him he’d be ready. Moments later the entire ship jerked to a stop and Francesco tried to open the chest to see what had happened, it was locked though and couldn’t be opened from the inside. He began to panic and scream but no one would come.

“David, we have to go get the kids.”

The ship was sinking and the passengers were already being ordered to evacuate it.

“C’mon sweetie, they’re on the second floor in the game room.” David was afraid but he didn’t show it.

Sarah and David rushed down to the second floor and began jogging towards the game room. As David flung open the door Sophia began to scan the room for her children. She spotted Sophia almost immediately.

“Sophia where’s your brother?” She asked shaking

“I don’t know he hasn’t been here the whole time.” Sophia looked upset, a tear rolled off her cheek.

The three of them were pushed out, made to board a life boat and evacuate the ship without Francesco. Back in the suite Francesco still panicking screamed for help as the chest filled with water. By this time it had almost reached his neck and he knew he was about to take his final breaths. He closed his eyes and took one deep breath. As the water covered his hair he remembered his sister’s face and his mother and father. Silently he apologized for planning to hurt her and prayed that he might see them one last time. His oxygen depleted he attempted to take another breath but was answered only by a burst of water filling his lungs. His heart began to beat slower, his body became cold, all thought left his mind, and lastly his soul left. His body has not yet been recovered.



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