GiranapoliA Story by Hyatt_B
This one seems to be dividing opinion. Let it fly!!!
Everywhere is somewhere. With every minute the pullman takes us further away from ‘here’ to ‘there’. Your head is heavy on my shoulder, while the landscape weighs me down on the other side. I’ve got the window seat. The flat yellow earth, countryside that was never beautiful to me and I’m not sorry to leave behind. And I’m not sorry to be married so young and I’m not sorry that you are sleeping by my side and keeping me awake with your grinding teeth. You’ll be gone soon enough and then, I know that this will be another little jewel to be kept. Our hands clasped together. My feet tap softly in anticipation of Naples. I’m going to try, I really am.
Naples was once the aristocrat turned down and out and sometimes the accent could not be gleaned through the cheap wine and dug slur. Look close though and you can still find an old manicure, and dirty and balding as it may be, the jacket will always be velvet with gold brocade. My hometown’s got more crime than Naples, the only thing that scares me are the kids. The streets belong to them, their deep Neapolitan brandished against the world.
My ears are starting to pop as we rise into the mountains, green and spongy looking. We’ve left parched Puglia behind. We’re going to be babysat. Our plans sparked but never caught, despite other fires raging. My husband was a barman when I met him who worked part-time as an actor in kid’s plays. ‘Oh God, he’s in panto!’ That was Mark’s first judgement. The company folded leaving him thrown into an uncertainty all too familiar, he had lost the only family he ever knew. His saviour was Paulo Battisti. A director who can help, maybe get him into a theatre group, or on a course, or something. We’re not hopeful, we’re in the south, if he wants to get anywhere, he won’t be staying. And me? I live lost, every turn another dip on the rollercoaster. Blocked and in a panic. My new husband feels responsible, my new husband wants stability - so do I - and he wants somebody to think about me so he doesn’t have to. All I want is to be with him, I hold onto every moment with him but it always manages to slip away.
‘You sleep without slip?’
‘What, knickers you mean? Of course.’ New things everyday.
It’s two months after everything snowballed, I’d spent Easter watching the parades of Madonna and Jesus through furtive streets in Palermo, the fearful statues with there blood bright against the dusty, flesh and hair. Children led the way dressed in black and carried little crosses. After, I raced back through relentless rain to find you. A small city in Puglia was home at that time, I struggled to my flat like a tortoise with my rucksack. The rain was like being poked repeatedly. I hate that.
Within a week we were finished.
‘Meglio cosi. Better like this, you forget me in three months.’ It felt like I sat with my head in my hands until you took me back, then it was too late. I started to disappear with subtlety so that I was never aware it was happening, those around me didn’t realise it either, or were too afraid to say.
Paolo is doing us a good turn. He really likes my husband, most people do. His wife was English as well, he speaks good English apparently. My husband wrangled it so that I could stay too, but seeing as we’re married, then there wasn’t much to wrangle. If I couldn’t come, I’d have to go back to England, to Paolo this was completely unacceptable. I’m supposed to be a writer.
On a train, coach, plane, your options are limited, a good excuse to do nothing. Everything’s muffled, comforting, I never sleep more soundly than on night trains, waking at dawn in a strange place. Now, I empty myself – I can feel your eyes on me. I know I don’t say much these days. I’m tired, it’s too difficult, too many ways to be misunderstood, too many things that should be said. Time with your friends has left me in a little place of my own, like being in a snowstorm bubble. I can’t communicate, I can’t understand, I’m forgotten and now it’s normal not to be seen, run to it even.
‘How did Paolo’s wife die?’
‘You don’t know?’
‘Uh-uh. Nobody want to ask.’
Getting into the suburbs of Naples now. Every burnt out dream, hurried sexual fete, dodgy bust factory, tumbled down tenement still full to the brim, cling and weave into each other and Versuvius looks down on it all the fertility of it’s black face pulls people to its very mouth. Do we all run to what will destroy us, just for the short-term promise? The flash of beauty exploding. I slip my hand under his shirt. ‘I am fat.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous.’ Naples will be my home by marriage, his mother was born here and he has the Neapolitan face. I don’t know how to get us from the journey to the arrival, to the pretty flat in Pozzuoli, a village outside Naples looking out onto the Mediterranean, it happened in the space of thought anyway. The sun brings out the blue of the sea, already there are little kids jumping in out, not realising that they’re in paradise.
‘I still don’t understand why he’s so rich.’
‘E¢ difficile a spiegare. When someone want to do a spettacolo…’
‘Show, they ask him to find the history, costume. Hai capito?’
‘Penso di si.’
‘Oh, you speak Italian? Complimenti.’ I could probably speak dialect better, because you’re Bolognese, Napolitano, Romano, Milanese, before you’re Italian. It’s not a country, it’s a chessboard.
‘We can go to sleep?’
‘Now? You slept most of the way.’
‘Sono destructo veramente.’
‘Go to sleep then.’
‘Not only sleep…You stay with me?’
‘Don’t I always?’
You’d waited for me at the school, a copy of ‘The Old Man and The Sea.’ in your hand. Inside; ‘For Isabelle, I’ll never forget about you!’ (Italians really like exclamation marks). As if it needed to be said, of course he wouldn’t forget, he never forgot his girlfriends despite the number. I never forgot them either. Every name, time, place. We shared these histories, there was no possibility in forgetting and in saying it, he’d made me feel forgettable.
But I think I want to be forgotten, I don’t want to be the next in line, the recent episode, to tell his next one. We are too young to think of love like this, in remembrance in memories that still rub raw. Smell and touch and taste.
I see him notice a photo that Paolo must’ve put on the wall for us. He with the group in a rehearsal and Paolo coaching everyone. My husband talks into my ear of how sad he is not to be working, acting is the centre of everything for him. I want to be sympathetic, but I’m angry. I should make him happy, only me. I should everything, he’s everything to me.
I’m not ‘it’ for you, am I? We lie together, I feel like there is a thread, a lean strong wire always pulling us together.
When we split, you came to sweeten the bitterness in me. I know you, you want everyone to love you, couldn’t bear to think I hated you. We sat inches apart clumsy in our own space, it felt wrong not to be touching. You tried to kiss me and I turned away, a heavy smack of the lips on my cheek. After, I curled myself up, tears not enough. Sleep came, heavy and claustrophobic, dead of thought.
He sleeps again and I’m gone for him for the moment. He snores, so restless in sleep. I listen, we’re both 23. I count every moment, I have one more day, I dig into it. The hot afternoon carries voices. You wake, call me a secret name and then back to asleep. I light a f*g. I can smoke with my eyes closed. The heat gets close and I can taste the filter. The only risk I take on a regular basis. Apart from you. You always say the right thing, it comes easy for you, but sometimes I think it’s random, like blowing out smoke. There are consequences, you know I might just believe you. With every beautiful sentence I show outward suspicion, inside I sink deeper.
© 2008 Hyatt_B
Added on August 9, 2008
Last Updated on August 14, 2008
Birmingham, United Kingdom
AboutI have been writing for 23 years. I do not write to stay sane or insane, I do not write for therapy, I do not write to say I'm a writer - I NEVER say I'm a writer. I write to connect, to explore and.. more..