When you trust somebody without any doubt,
You get one of two outcomes,
A person for life,
A lesson for life.
When she was younger at the age of ten, she went on holiday to California. She wasn’t very good at swimming but swam out alone into the sea anyway. Soon enough she got caught in a riptide and seemed to be getting nowhere. She kept on struggling forward pointlessly. A teenage boy helped her by convincing her to swim right rather than stubbornly fighting forward. As he helped her gasping self towards the shore he preached at her,
“You need to learn to trust and stop fighting the riptide, you won’t win”
She learnt nothing.
Michele had disappeared inside. Her mind spiralled into never-never-jealous land as to all the places he may have gone. Then he reappeared with a long wooden paddle, it had several holes which quaintly held some full shot glasses.
“This is my Nonna’s favourite. She may be around here with some fine gent for all we know” he jested, breaking the tension.
They all held up a glass and cheered. It was a silent sign to let the immediate past events slide. No need for confrontation. Yet.
“Let’s go see Andrea!” the cousin yelped. It transpired that ‘Andrea’ was a pizzeria that Emma sent her tourists to and also, a guy that the boys were somehow related to. Either way, food was necessary as emotion made the alcohol hit her veins even quicker. The added company eased the now awkward silence between them.
She wanted to ask
‘Who was that?’
‘How long were you together?’
‘Do you still love her?’
‘She’s prettier than me isn’t she?’
‘Why was she angry?’
‘Do you still talk?
‘Is that her real nose…hair?’
But instead, she just said,
“Gosh, I am sooooo hungry” as she smiled and walked slightly ahead, even though she didn’t know where she was going.
The town got prettier as they left the bridge and traipsed up the cobbles. She lost herself for a moment in the overwhelming smell of the jasmine flowers climbing each wall. Then she realized she was alone. She woke back to a wolf whistle and realized the rest of the group had congregated at a bar twenty metres back.
Bambi wondered back.
Michele handed her a glass and kissed her forehead. Emma gave her a friendly wink and a stretched smile whilst subtly nodding to her left.
Dalila was also in the circle of friends. She was smiling hard and trying not to look at her directly. Dalila had unnaturally white teeth and hair that didn’t move in the breeze, she held her phone up at a tilted angle and she wasn’t sure if she was taking a vain selfie or somehow filming her. Either way, it made her feel quite uncomfortable.
Two more girls joined the group who also knew Michele. Did he know every girl in town? The party was growing and one of the girls looked familiar with her mod mop.
Elisa. The leather-clad angel who had babysat her the other night and apparently also Michele’s cousin.
“Inglesina!...sei Viva!” they hugged and she felt Dalila’s anger grow from across the room.
She thought about the riptide and then she remembered a story her Grandad had told her.
“So the Sun and the Wind, they don’t really get along. Constantly arguing, who’s better, this that and the other” he grunted as she poured his Newcastle Brown at the tender age of six
“BUT! They do like a good old wager” he dozed off and she woke him up by adjusting his spectacles “SO! The Sun said to the Wind…wait for it..the Sun was a bit cheeky” Grandad opened his eyes “ I’m more powerful than you”
At six this was very intriguing.
“See that mortal down there? I bet you I can get him to take his jacket off before you can” Grandad looked at her quizzingly and she shrugged back.
“SO! I’ll tell you. The Wind is also quite a proud fellow. He took the challenge and he blew and blew and blew.” He looked at her again quizzingly.
“AND! That mortal man by golly he held his jacket tight” Grandad leaned back in his chair.
“The sun. THE SUN. He didn’t even look at the wind, he just walked up and stood there being himself. The man felt the warmth and slowly took off his jacket”
She sat looking at her Grandad and took away his beer as he fell asleep. At the time she had no idea what he was trying to say.
She left the group and went to the bar alone. They didn’t notice as by now there were about ten people laughing and drinking over wine and pizza.
The bar was designed like a night club with weird neon lights in the day. The top shelf was lined with Grappa bottles. None of which she knew.
The bartender was a mature busty woman with dark hair and marine blue eyes and an unnecessarily provocative black shirt.
“Prego” She sassed whilst sensually polishing a glass.
“Hmmm,” She grabbed out her handbook in a cute ‘play dumb’ fashion.
“Sua preferita?” she uttered pointing towards the top shelf and clenching her teeth.
“Ah Haaaah” she smiled back, giving in to the poor helpless lamb in front of her.
“’ere try some…PROVA” black shirt poured her a taste of the sweet honey liqueur and she ordered two. At that moment Elisa walked past her on her way to the toilet.
“You like Poli? He’s my cousin” Elisa winked and smiled, laughing her way into the bathroom.
She took the curved glasses and walked calmly out, past Michele and towards Dalila.
Dalila’s stance went up like a cat with eyes wide and nails sharp.
She placed the Grappa down in front of her.
“Ummmm, in England we say Cheers but here it’s ‘Sa-looo-tay?”
Dalila looked confused.
“Am I saying it wrong?”
“No,” She said quietly and her harsh face softened into a warm smile. She raised the glass and came close to her ear.
“Don’t trust him” she whispered soothingly.