Alfredo's Box // A Ratatouille one-shot

This is a piece I wrote almost two or three years ago, getting into a few of the emotions Alfredo was dealing with immediately following his mother’s sudden death.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve put up anything worth looking at/reading, but since my creativity has met a sort of standstill, (due to work and being tired and all that) and I have all these gems of Ratatouille fanfiction bits lying around, I might as well brush the dust off of some of the better ones and share them. (:

The old lady he sees in one of the photographs is Anton Ego’s sister, Maura. I think I described the relation in the artist’s comments of my Alfredo aging montage (can be found in my art thread), if you’re confused about it.

Warning: Melancholy and sad. If you don’t like melancholy and sad, I’d steer clear.

April, 1996

What was this small box hiding in the corner of the bedroom; buried in dust, and with no form of identification on it?

Alfredo sat up on the old, creaky bed that had been given to him during his stay with Larousse’s great aunt Mabel, and peered at it from where he sat, realizing that he’d never seen it before.

He tilted his head and pushed away the books he was using to study for a grammar test. Had this box been there since he moved in with Mabel just a few weeks ago? Did she know that it was there, or what was in it? Was it his?

He hopped off the bed, carefully and timidly inching towards the box as if it were to explode at a moment’s notice. He got on his knees and silently stared at it, surveying it from every angle. He listened and turned his head for a moment to hear if Mabel was still asleep, and when he was sure she was, he brushed some dust off of the top of the box and gently began to pull it open.

His heart galloped as his inquisitive gaze met a bound leather book resting at the very top. With trembling fingers, he gingerly took the book into his hands and wondered about what it might contain. He placed it on the floor and opened it to the first page, where a photograph of a small girl with bright red hair was pasted. Her sad brown eyes just missed the camera lens and seemed to be staring off into space, and her tiny mouth barely hinted at a smile.

Something tugged at Alfredo’s heart and his eyes filled with tears. He pressed a finger to the page and bit his lip.

Mommy, he thought, quickly finding a tear on his cheek.

He had to turn the page before he began to sob and found more photographs of his mother as a small child. One showed her standing outside a huge mansion next to a tall, scowling woman. Alfredo wiped his eyes.

I wonder who that mean-looking lady is, he wondered, flipping over a few more pages.

As he went forward in the book, time progressed in the form of images. Before he knew it, Alfredo was coming upon pictures taken during his mother’s high school years. Many of them were ones that she had taken with her best friend, Larousse. One was an image Larousse had taken of Renata proudly framing a distant Eiffel Tower in between her hands. There was another of the two sipping espressos at a café and making disgusted faces after they had taken sips. Others still showed tender images of hugs and smiles that Larousse and Renata shared in the days past.

Alfredo’s forehead creased in confusion as he studied some of the photographs that followed. He wasn’t sure why, but he knew that something was different in the tone of these pictures. A smile on Renata’s face was extremely hard to find, and even though Larousse would be smiling proudly in them, Renata either had her head turned or a sad smile on her lips.

It was too much for little Alfredo to handle, and he closed the book forcefully, biting down hard on his lip to restrain the sobs that hung in his throat.

The boy shoved the book away and found a folded blanket in the box, underneath where the photo album had been. He smiled a bit as he lifted it out and pressed it to his face, as he recognized it as his old blankie. He breathed in deeply, and immediately the horribly soothing, dreadfully tender memories that came back were so strong, tears bubbled up from that eternal reservoir and poured from his eyes. They ran down his face and onto the blanket, sinking into the gentle cotton. He tried at his best to keep from crying out loud so Mabel wouldn’t wake up and wonder what was wrong.

He threw the blanket across the room and wiped his eyes furiously. He couldn’t stand this overwhelming feeling of sorrow. The death of his mother was still too fresh in his mind. He didn’t even care to find out what the rest of the box’s contents were after that. Completely forgetting about his schoolwork, he grabbed his shoes and a coat and ventured outside to get some fresh air.

The chilly fall breeze nipped at Alfredo’s face as he wrapped his coat, which was quickly becoming too small for him, around his shuddering body. Leaves blew about the cracked dirt and rustled far beyond him in clusters of trees. Tears slipped down his blushing cheeks and felt like small ice cubes racing down his face, tearing into his skin. He forcefully whisked them away with the sleeve of his jacket and sighed deeply. He wished that there were a way he could forget about Renata’s death and not have to worry about the sting of that awful memory ever returning to his already sorrow-laden heart. What would it take to make him truly happy? He had almost forgotten what that word meant.

Alfredo spotted a rake leaning against the side of the house, about ready to tip over due to the wind. He looked over at the swirling leaves in the tall field grass. This gave him an idea.

He ran over and took the rake into his hands, then dashed out into the grass to gather some leaves together. Once he worked them into a somewhat orderly pile, he threw down the rake and leapt into the air - collapsing into the pile of leaves. Involuntarily, he felt a refreshing and bubbly noise explode from his lips.

He was feeling laughter for the first time in far too long.

Any trace of anguish had escaped from his soul by now, and he crawled out of the leaves to pull them all together again, still laughing. He took another jump into his pile and more laughter surged forth, to the point of evoking tears. But for once in a long time, these were tears of joy.

This was indeed what it felt like to be content, happy, and free. Free from the fear of the unexpected, free from the pain of heartbreak and agony, and completely abandoned to the carefree mindset and emotions found only within the heart of a child.

Aww, short but sweet.

Tugs at the heart strings and certainly great work!

I’ve written you a critique on DeviantART, but I’ll repost it here for the benefit of other members and if you haven’t read it there yet: :slight_smile:

Wow, this is such a heartwrenching story. As I said many times before, this seems to be your ‘specialty’ (and I mean this without sarcasm or malice).

I was listening to some epic trailer music while reading this, so maybe I didn’t have as strong a reaction as if I had listened to some pensive music or silence.

But it is a very well-told story. Not sure why you depicted Maura as a very grumpy lady, I’ll probably have to search the ageing montage to find out why.

Is Larousse an OC or is he the canon character I’m thinking of? Cos’ there was no indication in the movie that he had a close relationship with Renata that I can recall (althought it’s been some time since I watched).

I think what made this fanfic different from your usual blend of melodrama and family dispute is that the ending for this one is life-affirming and uplifting. I mean, yeah, some of your fanfics probably had happy endings, but this one is bittersweet yet so much more touching because Linguini was young enough to have the ‘short-term memory’ of a child and intuitively live and let live.

As grown-ups, we hold onto emotions and remain affected by them long after the event has passed. Linguini’s wild abandon and simple joy in the closing scene demonstrates how easily kids forgive and forget, and concentrate on the ‘here and now’. And that gives hope to the reader that things will get better for Linguini, despite his unfortunate past.

Wonderful story! You really write brilliant emotional pieces. And you can’t help but feel sorry for young Alfredo.

Thank you so much. :slight_smile: This darker vein of writing seems to be the one I’m strongest in, even though I like to consider myself an overall happy person. Strange how that works, haha. I’m pleased to have made you feel that way for Alfredo, because moving readers with my words is one of the most satisfying outcomes of writing for me.

little chef

Your welcome! I really enjoy your writing.