Tag: love Italy

The Letter from Italy

The Letter from Italy

 Here’s another one of my short stories, a sweet story to touch your heart. I always like to do that write stories and books that touch the heart and celebrate the best in humanity. Here we go, read on…. This is a story called ‘The Letter from Italy.’

‘ A twist of the cap, a tilt of the bottle and the little capsules filled my hand. Pink and glossy, they glistened in my palm. A small red stripe defined their middles. They were a work of art.

‘Swallow me, take me!’ they implored in Wonderland style.

One gulp and the pretty little pills would all be gone and so would I. Sweet release from the black dog of depression, sweet revenge for my unappreciative children, my cheating ex-wife. This would show them. This and the will that excluded them. Renewed anger rose, my jaw clenched.

I cupped the handful of tiny avengers to my mouth, the glass of water in my other hand. Seize the moment, this was it.

A Timely Interruption

‘Ding, Dong. Hello! Jim, are you there?’

‘God, damn it. What the ….!’

Mary, my neighbour, again. Why did she have to keep calling by?

I would ignore her, that’s what I’ll do. Go away busybody Mary. Leave me alone. I’m here with my black dog and my saviour pills.

‘Ding, Dong. Jim, it’s Mary. I brought you some muffins and your mail. There’s a registered letter for you, special delivery.’

What the …? Who could be sending me a registered letter?

I kicked my feet free of the tangle of blankets and heaved myself out of my ravaged bed. Every morning my bed resembles a war zone, reflecting my sleepless nights and tortured dreams. Pulling back the faded curtains, I flinch with the sudden onslaught of morning light. Well, maybe noonday light.

It was well past morning. The early joggers, the morning dog walkers passed by hours ago, followed by the school kids squealing and chattering. I hated mornings and I hate morning people. Why are they so happy and cheerful? Isn’t life shit for them too?

A Surprise Letter

Shuffling down the hallway, I wrench the front door open. There she is, old Mary, always cheerful too, always upbeat. If she wasn’t so kind and sweet, well, I would have told her where to go, years ago.

‘Blueberry and coconut, today, Jim. Fresh from the oven. They will be lovely with a coffee. And here’s your letter. I told the postman not to wake you. He came early. I signed for it. It’s from Italy, how exciting!’

‘Italy! I don’t know anyone from Italy. What the…!’

I bit my tongue. Mary was a lady. No swearing in front of Mary.

‘Well, open it, Jim. Do you want me to make coffee for us, while you read it? That will work.’

For such a tiny woman, such an old woman, Mary wielded power. She marched past me into the kitchen and put the kettle on.

The past returns

I sat at the table and tore the envelope. Inside lay a handwritten letter and as I opened it, a photo dropped to the table. Gazing down, I looked into the faces of two young people, happy and smiling. They were in love. I knew because the young man was me, forty years ago.

The villa overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean, purple bougainvillea, her smile, her laugh. Isabella. Genova. A holiday romance, so long ago now.

Confused, I turned to the letter’s envelope. Flicking it over, revealed the sender. Isabella.

Stunned, I raked my disheveled hair from my forehead. After all these years, why was Isabella writing to me? She must be sixty, like me.

Mary interrupted my thoughts. ‘Here we are now, a nice hot mug of coffee. It will do you the power of good, Jim, and have a muffin with it. I’ll join you for a minute, do you good to have some company. Locked away in that bedroom all the time, it’s no good for you, son.’

Paralysed by a letter

Normally, I would shoo Mary out on the pretense of not feeling well. But I let her stay today because I was in shock, paralysed by this letter.

‘What’s the letter about, Jim? Have you won a holiday in Italy?’

‘It’s from an old friend. This is Isabella and me, forty years ago. I haven’t read the letter yet.’

‘Well, go ahead. I’ll just sip my coffee.’

Mary sat surveying the photo as I eagerly read the letter.

‘You were a handsome lad, Jim, and this Isabella is so beautiful! Was she your girlfriend?”

Momentous news in the letter

I ignored Mary as I processed the momentous news in the letter. Isabella was here, in Sydney, on vacation. She had found me and wanted to catch up, tomorrow, if possible near the Opera House. My heart skipped a beat. My pulse raced. Isabella, after all these years. What would she be like? Still as beautiful? Was she still married to that loser, the fisherman? So many questions after so many years.

‘It’s exciting news, I can tell, Jim. You look all flushed. You’ve come alive. My muffins are restorative, but they can’t perform magic. It’s the letter, isn’t it?’ Mary was persistent.

‘Yes, it’s Isabella. She’s here in Sydney and wants to see me tomorrow. There’s a phone number. I need to ring her. But what will I say, Mary?’

‘Well, you’ll say, you’re coming, of course, won’t you? But you need a shave and a haircut, boy. You can’t meet a lovely lady, looking like that!’

 Mary was right. She straightened herself and rose from the chair.

‘I’ll be on my way now, Jim.’

Mary Saved my Life!

‘Thanks, Mary.’ I meant it, too. Mary had saved my life. If I’d swallowed those pills, I would not have this letter, this piece of joy, I wouldn’t be meeting Isabella tomorrow!’

                                                     *******

Butterflies in my stomach, sweaty hand clenching a bunch of daffodils, I waited near the Opera House steps. The white concrete sails of the symbol of Sydney, gleamed in the morning sun. Morning! I was out in the morning sun. A first for me, after a year of wallowing in a dark room with my black dog.

Isabella

How would we recognise each other? She had said something about a hat, a pink hat. I scanned the crowds of tourists for the colour pink. There in the distance was something pink bobbing along, only just visible but getting closer with each moment. Then the pink hat materialized through the crowd, then a slim figure wearing a floral dress, then finally, a face.. It was Isabella. I knew the walk, the sway of her hips, the skip in her step. My Isabella, after all these years.

I raised my hand and walked towards her.

‘Isabella!’

‘Jim!’

We hugged, then kissed on the cheek, twice, each side, as Europeans do.

‘You haven’t changed!’ she exclaimed.

I had but did not argue. She was as lovely as ever, her eyes as smiling and warm, her lips as inviting. Only Time’s brush of tiredness reflected the passing of the years.

‘Come, I booked a table by the harbour. Come and tell me about your life. I’m dying to hear all about you. It’s been forty years, Jim.’

Didn’t I know it, hadn’t I felt it, when I compared myself in the mirror to that young man in love in Genova, a lifetime ago.

The Years Fell Away

But over lunch and a bottle of wine, or was it two?, the years fell away, and we rushed back in defiance of Time’s relentless march forward.

The joy for life

returned and illuminated my dark soul. White light split into radiant colours like the sparkles of light on the glistening harbour. My heart warmed every time Isabella smiled at me across the table. We clasped hands. We remembered. This time, there was no impediment to our love. Pedro was dead, drowned at sea, years ago.

‘He’s dead, Jim. But my love for you never died. It’s still alive. I feel it, warming my soul, like before. Do you feel it, too?’

‘Yes, oh, yes, Isabella, I do! I still love you because I always loved you. I never stopped loving you, my darling girl.’

So, there by the beautiful harbour, under white sails, in the glorious sun, we pledged our love again.

Later at her hotel, we remembered more, laughed some more. Time spiralled us back, twisting and turning at the ‘what if’, the ‘only if’ moments that could have reunited our lives, earlier. And then she showed me another photo, taken a few years after we parted.

Angelo

‘It’s my boy, Angelo,’ she explained.

‘Ah! A handsome lad.’

‘Like you, handsome like you. He has your eyes.’

Stunned, I looked over at Isabella.

‘Yes, he’s yours, ours, our Angelo.’

‘He’s waiting to meet you. He’s in the room next door. He understands.’

Could there be anymore surprises, twists in my life that so nearly had ended just a day ago?

Yes, there were more. There was a return to Genova, to a different villa but on the same headland above the little cove where we had swum and made love forty years before. Angelo came and drank wine and laughed with us before returning to his young family. I was now an Italian grandfather and soon to be an Italian husband to my Isabella.

Photo from jack-ward-rknrvCrfS1k-unsplash

Joni Scott is an Australian author with three published novels: Whispers through Time and The Last Hotel and Colour Comes to Tangles. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

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