Beyond Reach – Chapter Five: Responsibilities

Chapter Five: Responsibilities

Part One: Preparing For

Rosabella grinned and complained to her niece that his manner was intolerable. “Yes, yes,” said the niece smiling slyly, “I can see your suffering from here.”

They laughed and went to bed.

Mattia did not have the benefit of sleep. He wheeled himself up and down the gallery’s elevator two dozen times. Boxes upon boxes were brought from his third floor apartment and emptied.

He straightened fixtures and arranged displays. Highlighted, accented, and illuminated the lobby.

One remaining detail – a table with an invitation and rose lit by a gentle single light – was put in place by the front door as the sun began to streak the night. Giving one last look at his creation, he dimmed the lights.

Then he wheeled himself onto the front sidewalk under the galłery’s marquee and waited. It was not long until he heard her voice:

Mattia! Returned
Have I to see by
Day the one whose words
By night have moved me.

Mattia returned the greeting:

Rosabella! Your
Presence outshines all.
To join me, please come
To the gallery.

Rosabella answered she would be there in three minutes.

He rolled into a shadow of the still-dark lobby. And waited.

It was an agonizing three minutes for Mattia. “This was a mistake,” he thought. What was he thinking? She would never . . . –

-There she was! Rosabella Terrazzo! He wanted to hide in his apartment or crawl under his wheelchair but it was too late!

She walked into the gallery wearing a face mask and found the invitation: “Welcome to Nuovo Galleria’s Presentation Titled ‘Facing Fear’.” She looked around.

Part Two: Approaching

Two lights came on and lit up a wall with thirty shots of her talking about gardens and flowers.

A row of lights lit up tables in the back with dozens more of her describing opulent dinners from long past.

And, there! In the middle of the lobby were the tiniest of lights intimately twinkling upon photographs of her smiling over flutes of Méthode Champenoise.

“Those are my favorites,” Mattia said from the shadows. “I trusted your eyes.”

Rosabella spun around not knowing which direction to face. “I’m sorry for losing your trust.”

“You didn’t,” he said. Mattia pushed himself from the shadows and rolled his wheelchair to her. “I took it back.”

She pulled over a chair and they sat six socially distanced feet apart without looking at each other.

Rosabella spoke of inheriting the family business half a century ago. “I was twenty-five and terrified of failing,” she said.

“Afraid of letting down her family. Of not putting food on the table or not keeping a roof over her siblings’ heads. Afraid of . . .”

“. . . Of what?” Mattia asked.

She paused, took a deep breath, and continued, “Never laughing or enjoying conversations the way we have.” She spoke quietly.

Her silence filled their conversation.

Mattia wheeled back into the shadows and returned with a bottle of Méthode Champenoise and two flutes. Rosabella decided that the champagne would keep out any pandemic and lowered her face mask.

The glasses were filled and they toasted to “Laughter and Conversation.”

Part Three: Acknowledging

He spoke of buying the building fifty years ago to display his photographs. Others in the area asked to show their work and he turned it into Nuovo Galleria.

He met his wife at an exhibition and they married soon after. For a dozen years their world was each other and the gallery. Every day he would serenade her with poetry.

Sometimes he would quote from legends – Claire de la Chovney, Moss Iverson, or J. L. Beckdar. More often it what his own words. Improvised in, and flowing from, the moment.

Then she died.

More silence.

Rosabella stood to look at the pictures. In the back, off to the side, was a canvas hanging on the wall. Under it was a picture of a woman.

“Who’s this?” she called to Mattia.

“My wife.”

Rosabella marveled: “She is beautiful.”

“I visited her grave yesterday evening. Reminded her that my Love had not dimmed in the thirty-five years since her death. But I would no longer allow the pain of her death keep me from living.”

Rosabella questioned “What changed?”

“When she died all beauty left. Until I saw you.” He proposed a toast to “Beauty Most Everlasting.” They clinked glasses and drained their flutes.

She spoke: “I’ve been thinking . . . ?”

Mattia chimed in: “That’s never been a strength of mine.”

Rosabella laughed and continued: “I’ve been thinking that maybe I could . . .”

Mattia wheeled toward her and spoke, “I am sure you could. Why don’t you?”

“Yes, of course I COULD,” stumbled Rosabella. “What I mean is . . .”

Mattia wheeled closer and said, “What DO you mean?”

Rosabella’s wasn’t sure. She asked if the lobby was getting warmer. Mattia refilled her glass and she finished it in one drink.

She had no idea how to say what was on her mind!

“Come on, Rosabella,” she told herself. “You can do this! Figure it out!”

She had given presentations to wealthy and powerful individuals for half a century. She had spoken to thousands of people at a single time and had been interviewed in hundreds of publications.

But words had never gotten lost inside her head. She had never forgotten what to say. Until now.

Part Four: Accepting

Mattia asked her to continue but she couldn’t. “Think, think, think,” she told herself.

She pulled her chair next to his and whispered: “I have been thinking I could, . . . or you might . . . or maybe we could do something like this . . .”

They leaned toward each and . . .-

“-That doesn’t look like social distancing to me,” said the Favorite Niece.

Mattia looked up and smiled, “One of yours?” Rosabella sighed and agreed: “One of mine.”

The niece, wearing a face mask, came closer and asked for an introduction. Rosabella obliged: “Mattia, this is my niece.”

“FAVORITE niece is what she means,” said the niece.

“Only if you leave now,” countered Rosabella.

The niece continued, “You’ve got less than a minute to hide until the rest of the family drags you off to meetings with the attorneys and investors.”

Rosabella had forgotten about the meetings! She resumed her duties the night before and the meetings would finalize the details.

The niece spoke again and with more urgency: “The family will be here any moment. You can’t go with them.”

Rosabella saw her family crossing the street. She looked at her niece and told her she would not hide from her responsibility.

She kissed Mattia’s hand and apologized: “I have to go.” Mattia pressed his cheek into her hand and nodded his understanding.

She walked out dictating letters to her niece.

Mattia wheeled around the lobby. There were shots of Rosabella everywhere. He filled his glass and raised it to his deceased wife and then to Rosabella.

“To ‘Beauty Most Everlasting’,” he said and drank the glass in full.

Behind him he heard, “It’s a good thing I brought another bottle. And breakfast.”

He spun around and there was Isabella and the Favorite Niece – both in face masks. He wheeled up and asked about facing her responsibility.

Rosabella explained she drafted a letter of resignation and appointed her niece as Special Liaison to the Outgoing Chief Executive and Assistant to the Chair to the Executive Council. Her first task was to deliver the resignation letter to the investors and attorneys.

“By the way,” asked the niece. “Do you have a table to set up breakfast?”

He tilted his head to the back of the lobby and in a moment breakfast was served.

The newly installed Special Liaison to the Outgoing Chief Executive and Chair to the Executive Council hugged. All three raised a glass to future success.

Alone, they dined on breads, pastries, and sipped cappuccino. Mattia thought this could be a new great meal. Rosabella agreed and raised her glass in a toast.

“To ‘Great Meals’?” he asked.

“And ‘Overcoming Fears’,” she said.

They clinked glasses, toasted each other, and laughed.

The End of BEYOND REACH.

About the Artist:

The art for BEYOND REACH is by N. Krok. The artist is a graduate of Raritan Valley Community College and is finishing up their degree at The College of New Jersey in Art Education with a minor in Art History. They enjoy graphic design, art history, and finding new adventures to read and writing some along the way.

Beyond Reach – Chapter Four: Two Soliloquies

Chapter Four: Two Soliloquies

The next morning, business with the Terrazzo family continued but Isabella was not part of the discussion. She sat on the balcony staring across the street.

The Favorite Niece sat next to her. Isabella explained the previous evening’s events and Mattia’s curious silence. The niece reminded her of the alcohol consumed by the two suitors.

“‘Suitors’?!” protested Isabella. “More ‘acquaintances’ than ‘suitors’.”

The niece tilted her head and looked in the direction of the two dozen namesakes – beautiful roses – Mattia had sent.

“No man,” she said, “Sends twenty-four roses to an ‘acquaintance’.”

The aunt smiled.

Isabella stared at Mattia’s balcony all day and night. Despite calling out to him, her “gifted and charming companion” did not respond. The niece brought meals and quilts. This was repeated daily.

Sometimes Isabella would stand and other times she would reverse the chair and ignore his balcony. But late at night, when the lights were turned off and everyone had gone to sleep, she turned the chair back around and listened for Mattia’s poetry.

The niece watched the aunt’s routine from the darkness and resolved to learn the fate of her aunt’s “acquaintance”.

It would not be an easy task.

Mattia had fallen into a dark place over the memory of his deceased wife. His days were wheelchairing throughout the city’s back streets, avoiding quarantine checkpoints, and chanting:

Many Winters and
Springs have come and gone.
Thirty-five Autumns
Have chilled same Summers.

But my pain has not
diminished, Dear One,
When waking, and then
Rememb’ring you’re gone.

His afternoons were wearing a face mask and lamenting:

Why did you leave when
The snow was falling?
With skies of grey that
Have remained fore’er

Streaked with the deathly
Throes of your last breath,
And in my head your
Voice is e’er calling.

He might have remained unseen if the Favorite Niece had not stumbled upon him. Late one night after an evening Mass, she was leaving flowers on the graves of the Terrazzo family when she heard a familiar voice praying and sobbing:

Not a minute, month,
Nor thirty-five years,
Could ever dim the
Love that I still feel.

Give me strength, Belov’d,
To endure the pain
Of this second, more
Recent separation.

She watched until he wheeled out of the cemetery and then rushed back to tell her aunt. Rosabella listened, politely thanked the niece, and did nothing. The niece was confused.

Isabella explained she was leaving the next morning. She had withdrawn her resignation and was going back to work. There was no use in trying to speak with Mattia one last time.

The niece told of finding Mattia in a graveyard, crying. He was praying to endure the pain of a lost Love from thirty-five years ago. Isabelła said nothing.

The niece persisted but the aunt spoke of business before personal.

The niece got in her face and spoke: “There! Across the street is the man whose words brought forth flames in you. A fire that warmed you! Thrilled you! Touched your soul! Do not let this end in silent darkness.”

“Fifty years of providing for everyone else and I’ve forgotten how to take care of me. I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to say, I don’t know anything,” Rosabella said.

“You’re afraid,” challenged the niece.

“I KNOW!” roared the equally fierce aunt.

The niece softened, “He was crying over his wife’s grave. Anything will help.”

The aunt was not moved. They were leaving in the morning and he would soon be forgotten. Quiet filled the street, bounced among the buildings, and settled like a funeral on Rosabella’s balcony.

The niece left and her aunt sat for a long time before she began to speak:

Dear friend! I believe
My words have hurt you
And caused the pain of
Remembering your

Love from thirty and
Five years ago. Such
Feelings, no doubt, wield
Sharp grief and sorrow.

The niece stepped back onto the balcony without announcing her presence. Rosabella continued:

What I’ve done cannot
Be eased from distance.
Therefore, I hum’bly
Request audience

With the man whose words
Have waken’d my soul
And whose spirit I’ve
Stung unknowingly.

The niece applauded and offered, “Well done.” The aunt, turned and said, “I know.”

They waited an hour but there was no response. Tired from the lateness of the evening and chilled from the night air, they turned to go inside when they heard . . .

Dear friend! Your voice does
Bring such sweet pleasure.

The two women went back to the balcony and Mattia continued:

And soothes the pain I’ve
Felt these past eves. To

Your humble request,
Sadly, I decline.

Rosabella sagged with disappointment and the niece comforted her.

. . . Until the ’morrow,
Before your breakfast.

End of Chapter Four: Two Soliloquies

About the Artist:

The art for BEYOND REACH is by N. Krok. The artist is a graduate of Raritan Valley Community College and is finishing up their degree at The College of New Jersey in Art Education with a minor in Art History. They enjoy graphic design, art history, and finding new adventures to read and writing some along the way.

Chapter Five: Responsibilities will be published on November 23.

Beyond Reach – Chapter Three: Mutuals

Chapter Three: Mutuals

Part One: They Meet

Mattia’s eloquence poured forth:

Ballaconia is
Pleased you know his name.
You have brightened one
Of equal age. But

Shadowed recitals
As these are preferred.
May I inquire
The Signora’s name?

Rosabella spoke immediately:

I, Rosabella
Terrazzo, am pleased
To make acquaintance
Of such a word artist.

Who can fill the air
‘Neath Spring’s eve’ning lights
With conversation
To warm chilly nights.

Mattia began to conclude:

Agreed, Great Lady,
Each night we shall speak
Of the travellings
Which have shaped our lives.

And Rosabella finished the thought:

Start with past gardens
In all their splendor
That we may have a
Spring to remember.

From the street and balconies, the suitors were showered with “Brava!” and “Bravo!” Rosabella and Mattia retired for the next night’s festivities.

Part Two: Their Garden

The next day’s business flew by for the Terrazzo family. Transition plans for a change of management were drafted in the single day and sent to far-flung attorneys for review.

Rosabella ended the day early. “We’ve done enough!” was her reason. The family smiled; they knew she wanted to rest before the evening’s poetry serenade. As she outlined the next day’s agenda, there was a knock on the door. The Favorite Niece answered it.

She came back with a vase of flowers that brightened the room. Rosabella insisted they be put on the balcony . . . where she would be dining alone. The family agreed to stay out of her way.

At the time set forth on the previous evening, Mattia announced himself:

Trav’ler! I have come for our appointed
Time to share gardens long since forgotten.
Before we start our journey, though, perchance
You have received a vase of your namesakes?

Rosabella was standing with a rose when she spoke:

Trav’ler! Your arrival was accomp’nied
With two dozen flowers. Mille grazie!
They, like you, are treasured and bring smiles
They, like you, make quarantine less dreary.

This began their exploration of the gardens, flowers, and walks of their lives. From majestic estates to potted plants, both had been thrilled by Nature. They spoke for hours across the street with Rosabella on her balcony and Mattia hidden in his shadows.

As she spoke, he shot dozens of photographs of the Great Woman. She ranged from joyous to wondrous to humorous.

When Mattia asked if he might retire, Rosabella begged him to know the journey had been memorable. He said a single word – “rapturous” – and asked where they might travel the next evening. Rosabella laughed and said it would be a surprise.

Part Three: Their Journey

The following day was once again productive for the family. Rosabella was coordinating secret plans with her Favorite Niece and distracted most of the day.

Rosabella dismissed the business talk with a “Yes, yes! Well done!” and barricaded the others from the balcony. A quick conversation with the Favorite Niece assured Rosabella all was ready.

Across the street in Mattia’s apartment was a knock on the door. He rarely had visitors and never at this hour. He looked through the peephole but saw no one.

He cracked the door open and found a box tied up in string, with a card bearing his name. He rolled forward, retrieved the box, and withdrew into his apartment.

The handwriting of the card was exquisite. It read:

Signoré Ballaconia –
If acceptable to you, tonight’s expedition is about food, starting with the enclosed.
Kind regards,
Rosabella
PS: One of the two dozen has found its way to you.

Mattia lifted a covered plate from which the most extraordinary aromas flowed. Also in the box was one of the roses he had sent across the night before. He hurried to find a vase and set the meal on a table.

The first bite was a blend of flavors and textures beyond description. At no point did the feast disappoint. As the last morsel disappeared into his mouth, he heard Rosabella:

Trav’ler! By now you’ve started this journey.
It is a memory for the palate.
A reminder of food enhancing the
High points, and soft’ning the harsh pains, of Life.

Mattia barely swallowed the last bite before speaking:

Trav’ler! You have provided a luscious
And pleasing journey. Further, knowing one
Of the namesakes has been present in your
Company makes its beauty more cherished.

Their voyage of food began with those words. They gushed of opulent dining establishments with chefs and menus for every day of the week.

And they whispered of intimate bistros where emotions and fine food were present in generous portions.

Once again Mattia captured photographs of the Great Woman. She flirted, smiled, and charmed for his camera. Fifty shots at least and each more appealing than the one before.

They talked and laughed and remembered past midnight. This time it was Rosabella who suggested retiring. Mattia, equally tired, spoke of starting the next journey after dinner in their respective apartments.

Rosabella questioned the delayed start. But Mattia replied “Celebration.”

Their evening ended with the quiet energy of expectation.

Part Four: Their Culmination

The Terrazzo family’s next day of business included everyone except the head of the company – Rosabella. Her only instructions were “Do your best.” The family took her at her word.

When they drafted a plan to transfer her operational duties to a committee she said, “That’s fine.”

When they nominated her for the ceremonial role of Chair to the Executive Council she said, “Of course.”

When they insisted she take a year’s sabbatical after fifty years of never having a vacation she said, “That makes sense.”

Across the street, Mattia spent his day preparing as well. He started with a call to the curio shop two blocks over.

“You must remember them,” he said. “I bought them from you recently.” Mattia listened in disbelief: “I don’t care if it was forty-eight years ago, please look! And deliver two of them to my home. Today!”

Next was a call to the wine shop. “Two Méthode Champenoise. . . . No, no, no. Repeat after after me: ‘May-toad ˌShahm-pon-wahz.’” explained Mattia. “Close enough. And quickly, please.”

Hours later, having finished his meal, he sent a parcel across the street to the Terrazzo apartment.

The family was finishing dinner and telling Rosabella of an upcoming meeting with the firm’s investors and banks to discuss her new role. “Yes, yes, yes!” she said. “Let me get ready for tonight!”

But her preparations ended with a knock on the door. A facemasked messenger delivered a parcel from Mattia. The Favorite Niece carried the box, and guided Rosabella, to the bałcony.

Gently the stringed contents were revealed: a bottle of Méthode Champenoise and a fluted glass inlaid with a red rose. The Champenoise was opened and the niece withdrew.

Mattia called out:

Rev’ler! Have you received the supplies for
Our celebratory expedition?

Rosabella replied:

Rev’ler! Champenoise, chilled, glistening, and
Escorted by a beautiful stemware.

They filled their glasses and toasted each other. They laughed, laughed more, and laughed still more. When humor threatened to fade, they refilled their glasses and started over.

For a third time Mattia was capturing Her Greatness. She created an emotional intimacy that swirled around the two of them.

At length, the bottles were emptied, the last toasts were swallowed, and their heads were giddy. Rosabella leaned back in her chair and marveled how she could be so lucky as to meet a gifted and charming companion such as Mattia who had no wife.

He did not respond.

She asked again and still no response. She inquired a third time: “Dear friend are you there?”

There was no response and, puzzled, she walked into her apartment.

Across the street and on the darkened balcony, Mattia had stopped taking photographs. He was sobbing over the memory of his deceased wife and the absence of her beauty.

End of Chapter Three: Mutuals

About the Artist:

The art for BEYOND REACH is by N. Krok. The artist is a graduate of Raritan Valley Community College and is finishing up their degree at The College of New Jersey in Art Education with a minor in Art History. They enjoy graphic design, art history, and finding new adventures to read and writing some along the way.

Chapter Four: Two Soliloquies will be published on November 16.

Beyond Reach – Chapter Two: Her Voice

Chapter Two: Her Voice

What would the Terrazzo family think of Rosabella examining the darkness for an unseen poet with the same intensity as she reviewed the company’s balance sheets?

What would the investors think of her staring at brightly lit balconies with the same scrutiny that she followed the company’s share price?

For that matter, what was SHE thinking? She reminded herself that her twin passions were running the business and leading the family. And that love affair was still strong after fifty years.

What did she care if an anonymous voice called out a few words in her direction?

What did she care if her vanities showed the merest of curiosity?

What did she care indeed!

She turned to walk inside when she saw the apartment and balcony across from hers was dark.

She stared and looked and looked and stared into the darkness and-

-There! The tiniest of a flickering light. Surely it was a candle – gently bending and swaying – twisting to its own rhythms. Dancing alone on an empty stage.

She leaned over the balcony railing for a closer look and . . . the flame disappeared. She retired for the evening.

Not to sleep; perchance, to plan.

The next day was full of business for the Terrazzo family. Except for the Favorite Niece who was running errands for her aunt.

Everyone had an opinion on how the business should run when Rosabella retired.

She corrected them frequently, “That’s ‘if’ I retire, not ‘when’.”

There were grumbles which she ignored – or stared down.

The schedule was finished and, with the Favorite Niece now returned, dinner was served. As with the prior evening, the meal was magnificent and everyone headed to the balcony.

The niece pulled Rosabella aside for a private conversation. She handed her aunt a folded piece of paper. They read the contents then joined the others.

Again the moon and stars came out. Out of the darkness came the words of the unseen poet:

You are a rival
To the moonlight
Glowing and shining
In directions all.

The audience on the street, breaking all known social distancing rules, looked up for Rosabella.

The poet went on:

The stars in the sky
Dare not to compare.

The neighbors in surrounding apartments stared at her balcony.

The words continued:

You are a beacon
Piercing the night.

The Terrazzo family turned and saw their Great Lady surveying the scene.

She smiled at her niece – who, of course, smiled back – and stepped to the balcony. She stared directly across the street, re-read the folded piece of paper, and spoke:

Neighbor! Your voice is
New and quite pleasant.
Your words are thrilling
To this ancient soul.

The Terrazzos were stunned. Their Great Lady had spent half a century speaking of ledgers and balance sheets not ‘thrilling words’ or ‘ancient souls’.

Nonetheless, there she was serenading into the darkness:

May I invite you
To emerge, and step
Onto your balc’ny
That I may speak with  . . .,

The neighbors and improperly gathered street crowd buzzed with excitement. Who did she wish to speak?

‘Who? Who? Who?’ They called out for her answer.

The Terrazzos, save for the Favorite Niece, spoke nervously among themselves not knowing where her soliloquy might go.

When she sensed her audience could not tolerate another moment of suspense, Rosabella revealed the name of the secret poet:

Signoré . . .
Mattia . . .
Ballaconia.

A bomb could not have made a louder explosion. The first shock wave had been Rosabella speaking in words and tone and style that matched the anonymous poet.

But when the residents heard the name to whom she spoke – Ballaconia! Mattia Ballaconia! – the atmosphere became electric.

He had founded Nuovo Galleria on this very street. But the gallery was long closed and no one had seen him in years.

All attention turned towards his darkened apartment.

End of Chapter Two: Her Voice

About the Artist:

The art for BEYOND REACH is by N. Krok. The artist is a graduate of Raritan Valley Community College and is finishing up their degree at The College of New Jersey in Art Education with a minor in Art History. They enjoy graphic design, art history, and finding new adventures to read and writing some along the way.

Chapter Three: Mutuals will be published on November 9.

Beyond Reach – Chapter One: His Voice

Chapter One: His Voice

Mattia had grown old ignoring the rhythms of his street. He ignored the people walking about. Paid no attention to the cafes full of talking and laughter. Or the tables draped in shadows where love might take flight – and often did!

But those rhythms have gone silent. In fact, the world has come to a standstill. The pandemic has introduced a new term into public conversation – social distancing. Six feet here, six feet there, and face masks everywhere.

Romance was difficult when two could not become one.

Not that Mattia Ballaconia wanted to be part of a two. He was barely even a one.

He was seventy-five and a widower for the last thirty-five years. He hid from the world and withdrew from other peoples’ lives. Talking and laughing were not part of his daily routine.

Until he saw Rosabella Terrazzo standing on her balcony. He was awe-struck by her presence and looked through an ancient camera with a zoom lens for proof and thought – “Magnifica! Such a Great Lady!”

But his first encounter with her could not have gone worse.

He wheelchaired himself toward his balcony and stopped short to remain safely anonymous. She was looking down on the quiet street.

Her beauty was undeniable and the strong lines of her face were framed by glorious silver hair. Mattia inched onto his balcony and slowly pulled together the dividers.

Just a little closer . . . almost there and . . . one fell onto him! He dared not move for fear of bringing attention to himself and sat under the fallen divider like a hermit crab half in, and half out, of its shell.

Rosabella looked around for the commotion until family called to her. They sat around a large table convincing her to step down from the business but she was not agreeing.

For half a century she had guided the Terrazzo family fortunes. She inherited the company after her parents died when she was twenty-five. The eldest of five, she became consumed with earning a living and putting food on the table for the others.

If she was not working she would have no purpose. Without that, she might as well be dead. To Rosabella, having a purpose was the preferred option. She deflected her family’s arguments to step down like a fencer parries an opponent’s attack.

On Mattia’s balcony, he reset the divider and watched throughout the afternoon with great interest.

The sun left the sky and the moon and stars took over. The lady’s meeting ended for dinner. She stayed at the table while the others dined on the balcony. Mattia wanted to see her in the colors of the evening but she stayed in her apartment. He did not know what to do.

From behind his dividers, he began serenading her with poetry:

Hidden within your
Home you stay from sight
And deprive the street
Of splendor to see.

Mattia had barely said “hello” to his neighbors for thirty-five years and there he was reciting poetry to a stranger who had just moved in:

Your presence colors,
Illuminates, and
Beckons this request
For you to appear.

Residents throughout the street stepped onto to their balconies to see who was serenading. And who was being serenaded.

Mattia continued:

To she whose business
Must keep her inside
And from our vision
Does prefer to hide.

The few café patrons stepped into the street and scanned the balconies looking for the poet. Safe in anonymity, the voice went on:

Please consider this
Plain and simple plea!
Grace our street with your
Sheer magnificence.

Rosabella’s family called her to enjoy the performance but she refused. A niece, who was her favorite, went to the table and reminded her aunt business was done for the day. Rosabella smiled. She grabbed the ledger from the table and stepped onto the balcony.

Mattia was awe-struck and continued:

Against quarantined
Greyness she appears.
With radiance that
Outshines moon and stars.

Our street does turn to
Look at and to gaze
Her beauty framed by
Long and silvered hair.

The audience pointed to Rosabella and applauded. “Bravissima! Bravissima!” echoed throughout the street.

Rosabella’s family encouraged her to acknowledge the admirer . . . but she said nothing. At length, the conversations ended and they drifted into the apartment. The Favorite Niece spoke of the gracious words from the anonymous admirer. Rosabella laughed it off and sat down to read the ledger. The niece smiled and headed to bed.

Once by herself, Rosabella scanned the balconies and wondered where the poet lived.

End of Chapter One: His Voice

About the Artist:

The art for BEYOND REACH is by N. Krok. The artist is a graduate of Raritan Valley Community College and is finishing up their degree at The College of New Jersey in Art Education with a minor in Art History. They enjoy graphic design, art history, and finding new adventures to read and writing some along the way.

Chapter Two – Her Voice will be published on November 2.

Beyond Reach

BEYOND REACH

For Rosabella Terrazzo and Mattia Ballaconia, love isn’t merely beyond reach, it’s unthinkable.

Rosabella has single-mindedly run her family’s business for fifty years. She has never allowed any interests to rival her commitment to the Terrazzo company.

Mattia has withdrawn from the world since his wife died forty-five years ago. Talking and laughing with people – let alone, love – are not part of his daily routine.

From opposing balconies, they start a journey neither could have anticipated.

Beyond Reach is a five-part story that will be published on The 3:57 website on successive Tuesdays starting on October 26. The complete publication schedule is as follows:

  • October 26: Chapter One – His Voice
  • November 2: Chapter Two – Her Voice
  • November 9: Chapter Three – Mutuals
  • November 16: Chapter Four – Two Soliloquies
  • November 23: Chapter Five – Responsibilities

In addition to Spear’s story, the art for BEYOND REACH is by N. Krok. The artist is a graduate of Raritan Valley Community College and is finishing up their degree at The College of New Jersey in Art Education with a minor in Art History. They enjoy graphic design, art history, and finding new adventures to read and writing some along the way.

The following is a preview of Chapter One: His Voice:

Chapter One: His Voice

Mattia had grown old ignoring the rhythms of his street. He ignored the people walking about. Paid no attention to the cafes full of talking and laughter. Or the tables draped in shadows where love might take flight – and often did!

But those rhythms have gone silent. In fact, the world has come to a standstill. The pandemic has introduced a new term into public conversation – social distancing. Six feet here, six feet there, and face masks everywhere.

Romance was difficult when two could not become one.

Not that Mattia Ballaconia wanted to be part of a two. He was barely even a one.

He was seventy-five and a widower for the last forty-five years. He hid from the world and withdrew from other peoples’ lives. Talking and laughing were not part of his daily routine.

Until he saw Rosabella Terrazzo standing on her balcony. He was awe-struck by her presence and looked through an ancient camera with a zoom lens for proof and thought – “Magnifica! Such a Great Lady!”

But his first encounter with her could not have gone worse.

Please return on Tuesday, October 26 for Chapter One of BEYOND REACH.