Chapter 20: Peace

I feel at peace when I’m with you.
You calm my heart.
You stoke my soul.
And then when I’m in pieces you make me feel whole.

She’d always had a fascination with fire and water. The fire drew her curiosity and any body of water calmed her down. When her mind went on fast forward she willed it back with the view of the sea, the waves, Mother Nature’s soft purr slowing down her heartbeat. The washed-up pebbles were a reminder that everything can be beautiful and nobody is special.

The jeep started moving. She fell back with a ‘whoop’ and Luca helped her up while also saving the salami. By now they were far away from the Tuesday group and driving through town, through crowds, Italo was playing the trumpet, Luca was singing and Eduardo was just sat in the corner hanging on. She sat by Eduardo as the jeep bumped over the cobbles and up the hill. It didn’t feel very safe and she was elevated a few inches on each bump. She screamed a little but it came out as a giggle masked by brass instruments and laughter. At that point, it sunk in that she had no idea where they were taking her and she’d lost Michele.
What’s the worst that could happen?

They came to a sudden halt and both she and Eduardo slid to the back of the jeep, both clinging to the crate of salami.

“Tutto bene??” Italo cried from the driver’s seat.
A goat had run in front of them as if from nowhere. Maybe he was trying to escape being kidnapped? Maybe he was dinner? Who knew?
Eduardo helped her up and held her hands, pleading if she was ok. The others also checked her elbows and knees and head. She smiled hard, insisting she was fine. Finally, they noticed that poor old Mauro had fallen off the wagon. He lay on the floor with his trumpet in hand, moaning and singing simultaneously. They all picked him up and brushed down his uniform and straightened his hat.
“Andiamo al Padre” Giorgio beckoned as they stumbled up to Chiesa di San Francesco. A pack of Alpini were chasing the goats grazing in the churchyard.

Maybe they were for dinner?
They walked into the peaceful church with Mauro in their arms still singing.
The priest was practising with the choir and the young boys stopped their angelic melody when the old men stumbled through the heavy doors. The Father turned around and scowled. He dismissed the choir boys and they took their prayer books and huddled into the back of the church.

The priest looked very familiar. He was Mauro’s twin brother.
Mauro stood with his trumpet between his legs and his head bowed down.
Padre walked over in his long black dress and addressed the other Alpini like school kids.

“E adesso? Cos'è successo??” He grumbled with his hands on his hips.

They were identical twins but Padre had clean-cut hair, sharp eyes and was cleanly shaven. Mauro had drunk a bit more through his life, neglected his appearance as he had shaggy hair and a bushy beard, his nose was more bloated and his teeth more yellow although his laugh lines were more prominent.
His comrades acted in the way that the Padre had spoken to them, like kids. They acted out the drive, the singing, the goat and eventually the crash.

“Camina!” Padre commanded. Mauro walked haphazardly towards the alter. His brother followed and they kneeled in front of the candles. She watched as they spoke side by side. She watched the candles flicker to their beat like a silent organ.
The kids were getting anxious as Padre walked back up to escort them all towards the heavy doors. He hugged Mauro, grabbed his face and gave him two kisses. He shook each Alpini’s hand as he needed to get back to work. When he got to her he squinted his eyes whilst leaning back.

“And what are you looking for Signorina?” he posed his question in perfectly even-toned English.

She looked up at the angels on the ceiling, the flickering candles, the drunk pensioners, her bruised knees and tasted her wine-stained lips.

“Peace” She uttered.“Hmmm” He pondered while keeping her gaze.
“Avanti” He sighed and took her hand towards the door. She waved Goodbye to the Alpini.

“Always keep moving forward, keep walking, but peace has to come from within.”
He was pointing towards the Brenta. She could only see a tiny slither of it from the hill but it gave her hope.
She missed Michele.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. She’d told that once to a friend who missed his wife as she was away on business. He explained that distance and time to love are like what wind is to fire.

A small gust will blow out a small flame. If the flame is strong, that wind will turn it into a wildfire that can’t be put out.
This ran through her head as she thought about how much she already missed him. Then she realized her mind was back on fast forward.
She needed calm. She stumbled down towards the water and sat in a heap upon the pebbles. The river passed her by and her mind drifted with it. She let it hypnotize her and blend in with the music in the background. She started to admire each individual pebble.

Her heart slowed down and she realized she was being crazy. She wanted to find Michele. She wanted to be there and get to know him. Maybe she could relax and have a good time instead of letting her imagination run wild. She looked up at the bridge in its beauty. She could see the silhouettes of a couple kissing. They looked familiar.


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