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,
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.
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
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:
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.