Women


Roma - Lampione a via Merulana - - Versione 2



Translated by Emilia Maiella


At four in the morning, while I’m having a beautiful dream, suddenly the phone in the corridor rings. The one that only rings when a call-centre employee calls to sell me something I don’t want, that telephone that should never ever ring in the middle of the night. I drag myself to answer, saying “Hello?” in a drunken slur, and on the other side, I hear a raspy voice gasping quietly “Sergio?”.

“You got the wrong number ma’am, there is no Sergio here”.

“Sergio…”.

“Look, it’s four in the morning, frankly… have some patience.”


Frankly, have some patience is the best I could process at this time of the night. I just sit on the window chair trying to remember the dream, but the phone call cleared my recent memory history. I haven’t been having good dreams in a long time.  I drag my legs to walking, I stop to look at my face in the corridor’s mirror. A woman tossed across the bed at four in the morning: what can I say? It’s something a phone call can’t erase for sure. I feel the exit less peace of this moment straddling the night and the day. I breathe, I hear the steps of Skittle: he approaches me, sniffs me, licks my hand. I pet his big head while I hug him, feeling his breath on my cheeks. Then he goes towards the door, turns himself and makes a chocked sound. Yeah, c’mon! Let’s have a walk, it’s better! I put on a tracksuit an grab the keys.

Along the boulevard, Skittle walks a few feet away from me. The street lighting is still on. Anxiety wiped out any sleepiness. I have to smoke, while I light my cigarette I notice we already turned the corner and that Skittle is running to a female dog that is walking with her owner.

“Skittle! Skittle come here! I’m sorry!” I say to the man with the dog I recognise as the lodger of the ground floor. “Don’t worry, it’s not a big deal” he says. “It’s the solemn hour of the beast and its owner, isn’t it?” he adds. “I guess so, even though it’s Skittle who brings me to walk” I say. He laughs. “Speaking about time, doesn’t it turn to summer-time today?” “Yes, you’re right, it does today”. “So, now it must be…” “Oh God, I don’t know, it’s too early to be clear-headed”. “But you… you recently moved here, didn’t you?” “Yes, it’s been two months. Well, see you then, have a good morning.” “Well, I grew up here instead. I’m the son of the doorman, when my parents died the condo left me the apartment. Oh, I pay the rent of course” “Yeah, sure. Well, have a good day then. I keep on walking” “No, wait: just tell me your name” “Adriana. I’m Adriana and he is Skittle” “Nice to meet you, I’m Michele and she’s Peggy”. “Ok then, bye Michele, bye Peggy!”

We move away, Skittle and I. So, the summer-time, today is Sunday. I’m out of time and I lost the track. We reach the playground on the square. Skittle drinks water from the fountain then declares war to the pigeons. He runs, jumps, maybe he wish he could fly, barks breaking the silence on the desert square. Pigeons make an army too big for him to fight. Defeated, he comes to the bench I was sitting on. He lies down on my feet. I look at him, scratching his head. My attention is stolen by a flock of swallows over our heads. Fresh air confirms that spring arrived, but I didn’t wake up and I’m a kid even less.  I think I’ve been in a coma for years. It’s the only mood I can accept for myself. I check the time on the phone: a quarter to six A.M.. Skittle decides it’s time to go back home. I get up and we walk back along the boulevard. Soon it will be light out. I pick up the peace, I don’t want to see the sunset, to me the born of a new day doesn’t make sense, it’s always the same thing in the end, it doesn’t matter to me.

We reach the front door, I open it. Skittle sneaks in before I do, he’s not familiar with gallantry. We get through the lobby and arrive in front of the lift. The door of the ground floor apartment opens. It’s that Michele, and now he appears on the door. “I made coffee, do you want some?” “Look, you are very kind, but I’d like to sleep a couple of hours, if I can. But, thank you” “Fine. But next time you can’t refuse.” “Have a good Sunday, Michele.”


He must have sensed our presence: maybe he waited behind the door all the time? There are more things among loneliness then above and over the Earth, dear Michele, and I prefer the things among loneliness. We go up to the fourth floor, I get inside, and undress. I lay down on the bed and try to get some sleep. It’s still quiet in the condo, I don’t even listen to those far sound that in these cases induce rest.

Alessandro chose Skittle from a shelter and named it with Rocky Balboa’s dog name. It was a funny Spinone, he looked just like a skittle. Alessandro liked to go to the city centre and surprise me with a carriage ride. It was an old dimension I really loved, the one of wandering through the closed-to-traffic old town’s streets. There was a particular time of the day, after the twilight, when the daylight was decreasing and the streetlights were turning on: in that very moment, as of enchantment, there was this yellowish filter like an old photo that melted my heart. It was like to be out of time.

Skittle refused to sit in front of us on the carriage and demanded his sit between us. I was laughing as Alessandro pretended to get offended with Skittle: “Silly dog, go find a job and rise a family of your own” he said as Skittle was playfully barking at him.

I was happy, even if Alessandro and I were just a couple and not a family. I liked being with him, I was a lot “into” him: “too much” sentenced my girlfriends. But, when love comes it comes, to me it was a beautiful period of my life and I wasn’t hiding it. Happiness is something you should treasure with reserve, but it’s obvious to the eyes that it manifests itself, you can’t mask it.

Alessandro kept bursts of enthusiasm nearly until the end, even though the chemo sessions wore down his senses. And my - his partner - dignity. Who seeks justice finds laws, doctors just follow practice, it’s the black and white of existence, it took me awhile to figure it out. Nine years, already, but it’s like the time stopped. The demonstrations and the rights of cohabiting couples, the debates and forums that followed by the time, they don’t concern me anymore because at just 26 I already paid life my bill.

I toss and turn. There is no way to remember the beautiful dream, only agony is sitting right next to me. I didn’t had a man in nine years. I never slept with a man again. “You haven’t fucked with a man since then”, my girlfriends say. Sometimes it seems like this observation sounds more like an accusation. The fact is, I like being with my sorrow. I can’t do anything about it, I don’t want to do anything about it, I no longer intend to make any effort. I think I made enough of them. So, even friendships frayed. People get tired of the usual “Hi girls, here is my new partner: old numb pain that never leaves me”.

My feminine dignity hits its all-time low. I always wear trouser to hide my hair, I guess even Mother Nature have been sympathetic to me because it seems the regrowth recessed.

The other day I was overhearing my male colleagues talking about us female colleagues. About me, they said I’m “dead”: “Not even a necrophiliac would find satisfaction with Adriana!” I remained indifferent, I thought about it, I can’t blame them.

I get up, it’s useless to sleep. Useless “trying” to sleep. To be asleep or awake doesn’t make difference since I can only rest my body. I drink a glass of water and prepare some tea. I heat a croissant in the microwave. I stare at the turn off television while I consume my breakfast. I yawn repeatedly. I grab the remote, but I skip the channels at supersonic speed, as I had to get through this day with the same speed. I turn it off and stay staring at the screen of the TV. Suddenly, I remember the lost dream: a carriage slowly goes on. It’s empty, there is not even the coachman inside. It goes away, and away, and away: slowly. I find it’s not a beautiful dream, even the memories lose their colours. Spring is a verse less poetry. I go taking a shower. I undress. Years haven’t been a burden on my body, I didn’t gained a pound even if I eat regularly. I enter in the box, I let the water flow. It flows on my hair, on my breasts, on my legs. On my waist. Not all that has been evaporates like a physic phenomenon. I turn the knob off. I stay some minutes to let the water drain. I get out the shower, wear the bathrobe and dry myself. Yes, I should shave my legs. I sit on the bidet and lean my feet against the toilet bowl. While I reach out to cut my nails, the phone rings again. I get up, I’m still wet so I leave a track of water behind me on the corridor’s floor. I pick up the phone. It’s the same voice of last night: “Sergio, Sergio…”

The voice tone is still raspy and gasping. She must have cried. “Sergio” she keeps saying. I hear her sobs and panting. “Ma’am, I’m sorry but there is no Sergio here, she must have called the wrong number again, Sergio is not here, there is nobody called Sergio ma’am”

I can’t get off the phone so I silently keep on the line. I hear the crying of the lady and look at my tears over the corridor’s mirror.   

      


© ENRICO MATTIOLI 2017


    


© Enrico Mattioli 2017