Hello everyone, I've missed you all!
It's been a long hiatus. I'm not sure I'm totally back, but I have something that might interest you. (finally! ;P)
I've written a short story that is very short but doesn't fit the flash fiction category. I wrote it in Italian as an exercise for a creative writing course I'm taking. We had no word count, so I couldn't edit it to fit the 1.000 word limit,or I would disnature it.
I have translated it to English because I wanted to know your opinion, and since the #FridayFlash community is known to be flexible I thought I could make a (big, I know) exeption to the rules. Consider it a coming back gift? Please, pretty, please? :)
Please notice that the expressions in italic are originally written in English.
Giancarlo arrived at the door. He raised his hand to ring the bell and let it fall to the side. He turned his back and watched the garden, the Christmas lights, the immutable neighbourhood of his childhood. The air felt gelid as if it had snowed the night before, but it was all grey and hard instead of white and soft. Deciding to confront the door, he knocked, letting out an inconscient sigh. He heard the noise of people and the movement of who approach in a hurry.
“Always late, Gianluca,” his mother uttered. “Everyone has been waiting for you for a while now. Where’s the girlfriend?”
“No one is coming this year, mom,” he said while bending to kiss her in the cheeks.
“But why?” her back asked him. Their shoes echoed in the long corridor
“She is with her family, and I am here,” he replied, lowering the head and the voice.
“Brother!” !” His brother from
He gave his hand and a timid smile to her. He turned to the uncle who waited with his bear-hug, the adherent cousins, and finally the grandma, who sat beside the Christmas tree. Giancarlo was still freeing himself from the others when she saw him and raised her hand half-way to the heart, letting it fall with a relieved breath. She signalled conspiratorizlly for him to approach, and while he kissed the old lady of withered body and radiant eyes she whispered in his ear, taking his large hands between her delicate fingers, “You did well sparing the sweetheart, grandson of mine.”
With the first genuine smile of the day he answered, “Each year I lose one.”
“Make go through the proof of fire only the one you believe will be able to bear with us,” she said with a wink.
By means of reply he smiled again, knowing that there was no need of words with grandma. He wanted to sit by her side and enjoy her company, drink of her wisdom, but all of a sudden the mother came by and took him by the arm, directing him to the table. “It’s late Giancarlo. Come and eat. The turkey got cold while we waited for you.” The mother turned back to the grandmother, offering her a hand, “Come, mother.”
“You know well enough that I don’t need help. I’ll be there in a moment.”
No one caught the darkening on mother's brown eyes. She briskly turned her back to them, and while she herded the others to the table Giancarlo slid back to the grandmother. When they arrived everyone was standing, except for the brother and his girlfriend.
“This is an Italian house,” said the mother, “and I am the one to say where each person should sit. In America you do as you please, but in my house you will do as I say.”
The brother crossed his arms over his muscular chest, chin facing forward, ignoring the exasperated girlfriend who knew to be in the centre of the conflict. Charlene gazed at the brother. Not finding help there, she looked up at the others, also unsuccessfully.
“Where do you want Charlene to sit?” asked Giancarlo, drawing everyone’s eyes to him.
“The places at the table should be set as your father liked,” she replied. “At the head of the table sits grandma. You, the older son, should sit at her right side, and your brother at her left. Since your father isn’t with us anymore, I should sit by your side and uncle in front of me. Your older cousin should sit by my side, and the other by the side of her father.”
“But we’re twins, aunt,” interrupted the cousins with their hight pitched voices.
"Fine, you can choose either place.”
“And where should Charlenne sit?” asked the brother, rising his nose.
“Well, not at the head of the table! Neither where she’s sat; that’s you uncle’s place. You should educate better your dolls.”
"Mamma!” The brother rose from his chair, hitting the table with both hands.
“Could we open the table to make room?” intervened Giancarlo before other harsh words were said.
The wide eyed mother turned to Giancarlo, “How in heavens have I forgotten about that?”
Giancarlo and the uncle opened the table and the grandmother gently guided the girlfriend to her place, speaking an incomprehensible English to which she nodded and smiled. Her relief didn’t last much, though. When she realized she was isolated from everyone who she could communicate with, she turned to the brother, who pretended not to see her. She leaned back in the chair, calmly lowered her hands and stared blank eyed at the wall.
With all sat at their places, the Christmas celebrations started. They ate the first dishes in silence. While the turkey and the second dishes were brought, the cacophony of private conversations filled the table. Charlene tried to call her boyfriend’s attention, who glared at his food, sulking. Giancarlo took advantage of the rare private moment to talk with the grandmother, the cousins chatted between themselves, frequently glancing sideways at him, who felt comforted by the barrier his mother created between them. The uncle seemed to be waiting for something, and the mother peered at him with keen eyes.
The hunter took for himself the honour of carving the turkey as he has been doing since his brother-in-law’s death. He worked merrily, ignoring his sister’s cutting eyes and the embarrassment they both caused. When almost everyone was served, the mother’s countenance started to relax. Everything seemed at its place and the doll remained curbed. As if guessing her thoughts, the uncle initiated his annual speech right after serving himself.
All faces became funereal. The mother waved wildly, trying to interrupt the uncle who barked how the niggers had destroyed the country, how the extra-communitarians should be kicked out like Mussolini did with the Jews and pederasts. Giancarlo let his head fall forward, which he supported with his hands at the last moment; the grandmother looked like a corpse; the cousins, being quite used to his speeches, communicated between themselves with signs and whispers; the brother couldn’t care less, but his girlfriend wasn’t this indulgent.
She had Hebrew origin and had lost her grandparents to the Holocaust. To the mention of the “great dictator” she rose from her place and staring at the uncle’s bulged eyes she said knowing that he wouldn’t understand her words, “You…” She pressed her anger-paled lips together. “You should be ashamed of yourself.” She left without further word, hoping that her boyfriend would follow. The brother, however, shrugged, compelling Giancarlo to take action. The grandmother nodded in ascension, offering her face to a goodbye kiss.
Giancarlo rose from his place, brushed his lips against grandma’s cheek and followed Charlene, who was walking in the wrong direction with overflowing eyes. He honked to call her attention and offered her a ride. She stopped, feeling anesthetized. She couldn't understand why she always got involved with the wrong man. Why couldn't she get close to men like Giancarlo? She accepted the ride to the hotel and asked him to take her to the airport right after. She wanted to go home.
Arriving at the hotel, she invited him up. Unconvinced of her own offer, she didn’t feel offended by his gentle rejection. He wanted to get to his girlfriend’s as soon as possible. Maybe he would be able to surprise her and arrive before dessert.