Daniela Part 2

Daniela Part 2

A Story by Les
"

I hope this is capable of being read as a standalone, but it's actually the continuation of "Daniela", the first part of whose story I posted earlier.

"

Late October 1980 and the town of Castelvetrano, Western Sicily, is being caressed by the warm evening winds off the Tyrrhenian Sea. Outside the town, on the farm of Giovi and Ignazia Borruso, the olive harvest is in. It has been another good one and the family, the workers and selected friends, have assembled to mark the year’s good fortune. The new Priest, young Father Paulo is there to give his blessing. But most of the evening will be spent celebrating the harvest in more raucous style, in which the local rough red wine will feature prominently.

Daniela has just turned fifteen. Sheltered by her parents, emotionally, she still stands on the cusp of girl and womanhood. Nevertheless, even wearing the modest white peasant dress, there is no mistaking her developing form. She has Ignazia’s fine features, but with Giovi’s flashing eyes. The turquoise sash worn with the dress, pay homage to her hometown’s colours, but also contrast those brown eyes and her raven black hair.

If Daniela has not yet taken great notice of the local menfolk; the local menfolk have certainly noticed her new seeming maturity. Without the escort of her parents to and from mass at the Chiesa Madre each Sunday, the local young bucks (and older men who ought to have known better) would have added comments to their admiring looks as Daniela passed by.

By eleven pm the wine has been flowing for several hours. The sounds made by the village musicians have grown ever more discordant, mirroring the growing inability of those trying to dance to keep any kind of time with it. Swaying might be a better description of their movements as, one by one, most give up the fight to stay upright and sink to the floor.

Daniela has kept to the fringes of this mayhem and is growing bored. She briefly, surreptitiously, sampled the wine on offer and promptly spat it out again with the single word “disgusting!” Grabbing a glass of the Mama’s fresh lemonade, she seeks sanctuary behind the olive press building and sits quietly on a discarded mill stone feeling the evening breeze cooling her temples.

Lost in her thoughts, she does not hear the footsteps approaching from behind her. It is Selleri, her Father’s overseer, a man she has never liked nor trusted. Selleri has drunk enough to be bold, but not yet too much to be incoherent in his speech. Even before he opens his mouth, Daniela feels herself recoiling.

“So my Lady Daniela, the party does not please you?” Selleri says with the slightest slur in his voice.

“I was just hot and needed some air” she replies, stammering slightly.

“Perhaps I might join you then, I think there is just enough room on that stone for two.

Without waiting for Daniela to move over, Selleri sits down heavily beside her.

“You’ve never liked me much, have you Daniela? But, then, you’ve always been haughty with everyone you think beneath you. But you and your family shouldn’t be too proud. After all, your precious papa has never been too proud to fool with my peasant of a wife all these years. You knew all about it, didn’t you?

Daniela stayed mute. she had suspected her Papa’s liaison with Cettina Selleri. In fact she had once caught them together kissing in the stable. But her Mama had never made an issue of it, so neither had she. Daniela shifts uneasily on the stone and tries to move further from her tormentor.

But Selleri had not finished.

“So I figure, what your Papa has taken from my wife, I might take from his daughter,” he says with a leer.

Before Daniela can move she feels Selleri’s hand slip under the hem of her dress, and settle on her knee and then her thigh. She gives an involuntary shudder before raising her hand to strike Selleri. But, before she can, there is a thud and the overseer lays sprawled on the ground, holding his jaw.

It takes Daniela a moment to discern the figure who’s stepped back in the shadow. It is, Giuseppe, the orphan boy. Her eyes take in his tattered clothes and unkempt hair before she utters:

You! What are you doing here? Nobody invited you tonight.”

Giuseppe looks abashed. While he is collecting himself to speak, Selleri slinks away spitting a rude Sicilian insult in the direction of Daniela and Giuseppe, but they do not even hear.

Giuseppe finally summons the courage to speak.

“I thought you were in trouble.” It looked as though you were.”

Daniela knows that she should be grateful to him but, before she can stop herself, she replies:

“Hah! Nothing I couldn’t handle myself. And nothing that I needed the help of an urchin boy with.”

Giuseppe is stung but, though the anger grows inside him, he stays calm and says nothing. As he stands there, motionless, Daniela starts to regret her harsh words she also notices that, beneath his unkemptness, Giuseppe has grown into a sturdy looking and not unhandsome youth. She cannot find it in herself to fully retract her words, but, in a softer tone she says:

Do you remember when you tried to kiss me on my 6th birthday?”

Giuseppe looks sheepish, but manages to reply:

Yes, and you went running off to tell your Mama.”

This time it’s Daniela who smiles at the memory.

“I didn’t see you often after that, What happened to you?”

Giuseppe hesitates before replying:

I think your Papa had a word with Father Antonio about me. After that, the Father let me sleep in the little room at the back of the church in return for odd jobs. When he left, Father Paolo let me stay on. He even thinks I may make a good priest, though I’m not sure it’s what I want.

Daniela is intrigued to find out more about Giuseppe’s past and is not shy in asking.

“So what happened to your parents?”

Giuseppe lowers his eyes to the ground and mumbles:

“My Mother died when I was born. They say my Father was a seaman who went back to the mainland soon afterwards. I grew up in an orphanage in Palermo but ran away and ended up here just by accident. I had no plan.”

Daniela is astounded at this revelation.

“But you must have been so young.”

Giuseppe shrugs.

“Six or seven I think. But I don’t really know when I was born, so I don’t know how old I am. Father Antonio told me I should share my birthday with our Lord. So that’s what I’ve always done.

Giuseppe’s tells his simple story in such a matter of fact way that Daniela cannot help but feel touched by it. She feels a sense of shame growing within her for her previous feelings towards him.

“So you’ve never been to school?”

“No, but Father Antonio taught me to read and write a little.”

An idea starts to form in Daniela’s mind. “Perhaps I can polish this rough diamond to repay him for his help in dealing with Selleri tonight.” So lost is she in her plans, that she walks away leaving her would-be protégé without a word and Giuseppe can do nothing but steal away into the moonlit night.



© 2022 Les


My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register




Reviews

Very good! I got lost in the story, and I really enjoyed it. It’s a classic coming of age story and of young love. You said in the description you hope it could be read as a standalone even though it’s part of a sequel. I think it can. I think it’s very good. Great work, Les!

Posted 1 Month Ago



Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

33 Views
1 Review
Rating
Added on May 19, 2022
Last Updated on May 19, 2022

Author

Les
Les

St Albans District, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom



About
Have always enjoyed writing. Just looking to see if I have any creativity left in me to write some fiction. more..

Writing
Daniela Part 4 Daniela Part 4

A Story by Les


Daniela Part 3 Daniela Part 3

A Story by Les