As it frequently happened at the latest hours of the night, S felt the sudden desire to write. Not a reminder note of things to do or a catchy phrase her mind has just come up with, but a story, fully narrated in her mind that she knew, it would be forgotten when by the first rays of the morning.
With a snort, she stretched and sat on the bed. It was autumn, and despite the weather being quiet warm during the day, at night you could feel the winter coming, with the pierce cold wind trying to get between your clothes and your skin. Still in the dark, S tapped the end of the bed in search of her robe. When her hands finally found it, she put it on, slipped into her cat-shaped slippers with difficulties and sneaked quietly to the kitchen.
She didn’t check the clock, but she suspected it would be 2 or 3 in the morning. Everyone in the building was deep asleep and so was her eight-years old cat who didn’t even bother to look at her as she switched on the kitchen light. Her eyes imediately closed, she squeezed them with her fingers, then waited. When she could opened her eyes again, she went to the sink and fill a small tea-pot with water and placed it on the cooker. She has always promised herself to buy one of those small water boilers, but whenever she browsed at them at the supermarket, she always postponed it to the next week’s shopping list.
She warmed her hands on the small pot’s heat then folded them under her armpit to keep the heat as much as she could on her hands. When she felt her hands were warm enough, she opened the counter next to the cooker and took a tea bag of green tea and mint. On the counter, on the opposite side of the kitchen, she looked at her mugs. She has always preferred drinking tea in a mug than a tea-cup; it could hold much more tea at once without having to fill it with water each time. Most of her mugs were of cities, with the classic capital I followed by a heart just above the city name. They had been souvenirs friends and family had brought back from their travels as gifts. The few ones she did buy while she was on vacation, were the ones with NY and Italia stamped on it. But as she took the white NY mug, she remembered she never used the one her brother bought her after a short visit to London. She put back the NY mug and took the London one instead and closed the counter. She leaned next to the cooker as she put the tea bag inside the mug and waited for the water to boil; she could already see little bubbles forming at the bottom of the tea-pot.
As she waited, her story hunted her. S never felt her stories were worthy enough to be read. Most of her stories were a pleasure for her only, as if her mind tailored them for her personal pleasure. Maybe that explained why when she sat down and started writing, or even drafting, they immediately lost the enthusiasm, that strong force that would wake her up and give her no sleep until something was done. For S, that something meant writing. She wrote smalls reminders of the story so, even if it didn’t turn into a full length-written story, she could still continue it and live it in her mind. Until she lived it so many times, it was of no interest anymore. Than she would have to wait until her mind would generate a new story.
Nadine … S thought as the water started boiling. She carefully took the tea pot from the handle and poured the water inside the mug until adequately full. The tea bag started floating as the water changed into a deep dark yellowish color. She put four full tea spoons of sugar, trying as much as she could to avoid the floating tea bag, then took her mug and headed to the livingroom.
She carefully put the London mug on her the desk and turned on her laptop and the small table lamp next to it. She sat on the wooden chair, her knees pressed on her chest and placed the hot mug on her knees in perfect balance to warm her a little, her hands near just in case. The laptop’s desktop image shined a picture taken some years ago. She stared at it for a minute, faintly smiled then opened a blank page and started writing.
Once upon a time … no, the story didn’t happen so long ago and it’s more real than a fairytale. It was a calm afternoon of an extremely hot summer. During the day, everything stood still, motionless as if the earth had been robbed of all living creatures. The only sound came from crickets hidden under leaves and bushes that surrounded the pool of Villa Gerardi. The Gerardi and their guests, seeked refuge inside the air-conditioned story yellow painted. The windows were big and white and the curtains have been visibly tighed aside to let the sun inside. The only movement came from the ground floor; people moved from one room to another sometimes with filled glasses in their hands. Surrounding the yellow villa was a huge perfectly green garden. Tall trees marked the stoned path that forked few meters from the villa’s entrance, just to meet again right in fron the huge white door steps. At the back of the villa was the crytaline swimming pool where Nadine seeked her refuge. She had her big black sun glasses and bulky straw hat on and wore her favourite one piece swimming suit with the deep V neck that reached half her chest. She sat by the pool side, her legs half inside the water next to her a cocktail in a half coconut with a small green umbrella the butler, Alfredo has kindly brought her instructed by her father.
Nadine Gerardi Villani hasn’t visited her family villa since her marriage, two years ago to Riccardo Villani. After dating Ricky for one year while studying in the UK, Ricky, finally proposed to her after a fine dinner in one of the most luxurious restaurants in London. A day Nadine has always dreamed of since the day she met him. After the marriage in the catholic church she spent her childhood’s Sundays and the dress designed by her mother, a famous local stylist, the wedding reception was held at Villa Gerardi with the garden filled with pastel colors of pink and green.
Nadine never expected her first visit home as a married woman, would be for the another wedding reception, her father’s. Her parents divorced when Nadine was 16 and soon later her mother remarried to an Italian business man two years after the divorce. It took longer for her father, who always wanted to see her little girl happy and settled, before he could think of his own private life. Once his little girl was grown-up and settled, he decided it was time for him to think about himself again and on a vacation to Las Vegas, in a limp, married Vanessa Hacker.
When her father called her to announce his marriage, Nadine was furious and concerned about the real intentions of the woman and her son whom she never met or heard about and the hastily marriage he has agreed on. Even though her father reassured her more than once, she called all influential friends in America, for information about the woman only to find nothing, except for the son who has spent most of his childhood in and out from reformatory.
Nadine has pressed her father to meet the new family, and in order to please her, he arranged a late wedding reception back at his villa in Tuscany. So Nadine flew with Ricky, from her now home London, back to Tuscany in order to meet her stepmother and stepbrother.
She snorted checking the golden watch on her slim wrist. When she had arrived early in the morning, Vanessa and her son Bradley, were out apparently jogging, then would head downtown to buy some last stuff for the reception. When Nadine asked why she hasn’t sent someone to get them, her father laughed and said she still wasn’t used to be served. It was now 14:00 and there was no sight of the American duo. At 12:00 Nadine had suspected they couldn’t handle the whole Gerardi family questions, especially her questions that she kept revising in her mind, and decided to leave the country. At 13:00 it became a certainty to her and could imagine them back in their little apartment in Las Vegas.
As she turned to take her coconut cocktail, Nadine noticed a man sitting on her deck chair. She startled and the coconut almost fell from her hands. The young man sat with his legs parted, half bent his arms resting on his knees. There was no doubt he was staring at Nadine and Nadine noticed it with annoyance. But what she noticed even more, were the tattoos that covered both his arms and a few popping out from his white t-shirt.
Nadine took off her black glasses and addressed the man.
“If you are here to clean the pool, you can pass later, I’m not done yet.” But the man kept staring at her without responding. Nadine frowned and tried in English, then French but the man remained silent. Nadine shook her head and gave up, she put her sun glasses on and continued to stare at the endless garden.
Suddenly she felt a hand touching her shoulder and she immediately shook the hands off almost screaming in anger. She turned, ready to verbally assault the man sitting on the deck chair only to see it was Ricky.
“What’s wrong? I didn’t mean to scare you.” He asked holding his arm back.
“Well you did.” Ricky helped her get up then pulled her toward him and kissed her trying to avoid her straw hat.
“What is it?” She asked bending to take her cocktail and tiptoed to the table next to her deck chair, the ground was burning. She looked around in search of the man, who Nadine now suspected to be a gardener, but no one was there.
“They are here.” Nadine immediately perked at those words. She put the cocktail on the table and wore her transparent cover-up, one of her mother’s creation, and turned in search of Ricky who was already next to her. She took off her sun glasses and placed them on the table next to the cocktail. She went for her hat, then decided to take it off once inside the house.
“Everything will be alright.” He whispered as he rubbed her shoulder. She nodded took a deep breath and went inside the villa holding Ricky’s hand.