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.
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
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 She had withdrawn her resignation and was going back to work.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
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
With the man whose words
Have waken’d my soul
And whose spirit I’ve
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.