Somethings are meant to be remembered and some forgotten.
She remembered when Diana died when she heard it on the radio whilst eating toast. Her Grandad died a week later. She remembered when the twin towers fell. She’d just come home from school and watched the TV, at first thinking it was a movie until she noticed the ‘live’ sign in the corner was real. Then the second tower fell. She remembered the look in her dogs’ eyes as she held her head and they put her down as her mother couldn’t do it.
These memories stuck, etched into the blueprint of her soul. The happy memories floated around in a nice hazy cloud, not contributing as much as they should.
She’d managed to find the dusty box of glasses and carefully brought them downstairs as she was sure they were of great value. As she brought them to the table she caught the eye of the catering team rolling in. Low and behold, there were a few familiar faces. A bold and satisfied Federico waltzed in singing as he announced himself and lumped boxes onto the table.
“Oh Inglesina!” he roared as he noticed her. “Not bad” He nodded in approval at her get up.
She gave a bow with a bashful smile.
Michele came behind him with another trolley, in a flamboyant, yet flattering shirt. Those arms. He gave her a coy smile and there went her heart again, nine million miles a minute.
“Ricordi, ricordi, ricordi”
The music system worked. Leo brought them some beers. Everybody seemed to know what they were doing. Tables up, chairs down, ice buckets filled, glasses lined up. The silent yet in sync motions of Fantasia. She found gaps and filled them. Within no time the beautiful room was even more beautiful and ready for a princess. Through all the commotion she felt his eyes like the sun burning her neck. She avoided all eye contact.
Elizabeth descended the stairs looking absolutely impeccable. Her smile was worth a million.
“Darlings! It looks beautiful...Thank you, Alessandro!” She gushed as she patted the back of the short butler. He held a lowly smile that he forced through his sleepless face. They finished their beers to the toll of the bells.
Leslie accompanied Leo at the door and Heather helped Federico plate food. That left Michele.
“Can I help?” She muttered meekly.
“Can you pour Prosecco?” He smirked.
She bit her lower lip and shrugged. He handed her a bottle and all of a sudden they were a team and the guests started to enter.
There were sequins, fur jackets, pearls, insane stilettos and lots of bare backs for show. Elizabeth was exquisite and she had a PhD in schmoozing. She laughed elegantly and hugged every guest humbly. The nice thing about rich people is that they tend to not notice poor people. Therefore, her presence was discreet. She handed out Prosecco and everybody was polite. She opened one bottle and failed as it splashed all over her top. She hated it when that happened.
Michele took the next bottle and placed it in her hands. He covered his hands over hers and slowly they turned the bottle away from the cork, so slowly that it came out silently.
“When you do it right, there’s no need for noise” he whispered.
She stopped breathing for thirty seconds and then carried on pouring Prosecco.
She excused herself and went to Heather. “Can we swap?” She pleaded with wide eyes. Confused yet compliant, Heather agreed.
“You ok Ingesina?” He said with his warm smile. “ Vai a prendere un po’ di aria…..take some air” He sensed her hyperventilating and signalled that she should go outside.
She left and went onto the balcony. The ballroom was full now and everybody had food and drinks. Lots of rich people concentrating on pretending to be genuinely interested in the other person’s life. She went to a corner of the balcony and looked out at the canal.
Be cool be cool. Breathe.
Her glass was empty. Michele walked out and looked around the balcony with two champagne flutes in his hand. She hid in the shadow. He saw her and walked over slowly, he put down the glasses and lit a cigarette. He stood next to her in silence and blew smoke rings towards the moon.
“You know” he cleared his throat “Everything in life is relative”
His English was good!
“Joy, fear, pain..they only amount to anything if there’s a comparison”
He put out his cigarette and leapt onto the marble wall edging over the canal. He leant down and reached out his hand. She took it and crept up with him onto the wall. They looked down together at the murky abyss below them in silence.
“You scared?” he asked holding her hands.
She was terrified about falling in every way possible. He leant over and kissed her. She could have fallen in right there and then and died and life would still be ok. She held her balance.
He jumped down and helped her down slowly.
“Back to work” He winked. “Drink the Sgroppino it’ll cool you down.”
She watched him walk away and sipped at the cold alcoholic sorbet. Elizabeth walked outside and meandered into the shadows only noticing somebody else was there at the last moment. She needed a breath too. It took her a while to remember where they’d met and recoil from her socialite mask.
“Hi” she sighed “Hi again” she smiled through gritted teeth.
“Thank you for before. I hope we can, hmmm, forget about it?” She cooed.
With an unknown sense of satisfaction, she replied “Don’t worry, some things are meant to be remembered and some we can easily forget”
They both looked out at the canal wondering which ones of those memories should be forgotten and which ones would be remembered.