Monday, October 29
A week after the freezing winds subsided and the snow melted away from the mountain tops, the temperature was back up to 24 degrees C and life on the beach was back to normal. I spent the afternoon reading, sitting on a lifeboat that had been pulled up the beach, while Skye and friends painted rocks nearby, trying fruitlessly to sell them to passers-by.
The clocks had been put back the night before and the afternoon soon became cool as the sun slipped behind the hills and darkness came down. I dusted the sand off Skye, convinced her to leave her 'artwork' behind, and we started walking home. Outside the pharmacy I saw a familiar figure, Andrea, my softly spoken romantic ex who had shown me Naples and taken me to romantic towers to watch sunsets over the bay. He saw me and smiled, we hugged each other warmly while the pharmacist looked slightly surprised but said nothing.
Three years had passed since I had seen Andrea, since I had negotiated the terrifying hairpin bends that led up to his house in the hills above Sorrento, to wish his family a happy Christmas and to introduce my daughter to them. Andrea had since moved to Rome to teach, coming back at weekends in his battered old VW Beetle. We sat down on the wall opposite the pharmacy and caught up on each others news.
He told me the shocking news about a mutual friend, a lovely girl with a beautiful smile and wavy brown hair. She had innocently stepped out of a shop one day last year, and been hit by a boy on a scooter. The boy had been killed, our friend had spent weeks in hospital with broken ribs and a fractured skull, only to recover and find out that the boys parents were sueing her for manslaughter. How could they do that?
We chatted some more while a pharmacy worker kept a curious eye on us and eventually we said goodbye, leaning forward to do the double-cheek-kissing thing. You would think that after almost 10 years here I would have it down to a T now, but for some reason I leaned to the left instead of the right and we clashed, mouth to mouth. We sprang apart, laughing uneasily, as the pharmacy girl stood frozen to the spot in shock. Determined to get it right I stepped forward, held Andreas head gently with my left hand, and whispered "left, first, then right.." as I touched his left cheek with my left cheek, then moved to do the same on the other side.
"Silly girl!" Andrea said as he ruffled my hair and turned to go.
Later, at home Carlo asked what I had done that afernoon.
" I saw Andrea, and kissed him, right outside the pharmacy!"
"Lucky you!" he replied, unconcerned, or possibly not believing me at all. I let the subject drop and wondered what the girl from the pharmacy had made of it all.
at 9:09 AM