Chapter Three: Mutuals
Part One: They Meet
Mattia’s eloquence poured forth:
Pleased you know his name.
You have brightened one
Of equal age. But
As these are preferred.
May I inquire
The Signora’s name?
Rosabella spoke immediately:
Terrazzo, am pleased
To make acquaintance
Of such a word artist.
Who can fill the air
‘Neath Spring’s eve’ning lights
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.
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?
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.