Friday, November 18, 2011

Excerpt: (untitled)

She had chosen the black dress that she never had the chance to wear with him at their senior homecoming two years earlier. Her sister had helped her straighten her hair to perfection, though now, hours later, the ends were beginning to flip outward. Her makeup had freshly been touched up and her jewelry reflected what she was feeling on this inside.

He pulled her closer to his side, his arm wrapped loosely yet comfortably around her waist. He was dressed to perfection; his black suit currently untouched by the day’s festivities and his tie not yet tugged loose from irritation.

She placed her hand on his chest which he gently covered with his free hand and as she turned to smile at him the flash went off, capturing the moment.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Excerpt: Ti amo così tanto

Jude and I were quiet on the bus ride back to her apartment, both a little sad to have sent Crockett on his way. When we arrived at her stop, we dragged my suitcase up the flights of stairs. Her number of roommates had dwindled to two, one of whom I hadn’t met yet. We made a quick introduction, but then Jude and I washed up and crawled gratefully into bed after the long day.

“Are you ready to go home?” I asked her as we lay silently in the dark.

She paused only a few seconds before saying, “Yes.”

And though it was barely louder than a whisper, it was a strong and certain word. It wasn’t “yeah” or “I guess.” It was “yes.” And I knew she meant it.

“But I’ll be ready to leave again by August,” she added. I could hear the smile in her voice when she said, “My parents will drive me crazy before the first week is out.”

“Isn’t it weird to think that we’ll go home to our parents after all this?” I mused. “It seems like I’ve been gone for years sometimes.”

“Yeah,” she agreed. “It’s because of the changing.”

That’s exactly what it was. The changing. I was so far from the girl I had been when I left for Lille. And I wondered who I would be when I finally left Rome.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Excerpt: The Alabaster Jar (end of Chapter 1)

I kicked off my shoes and sat down on the edge of my bed, already planning what I was going to do when I woke up in the middle of the night. Midnight laundry sounded like a good idea. I hadn’t unpacked yet, but there was no way I was going to drag myself back downstairs to get my suitcase now.

I stood back up to undo my hair and leave the pins on my dresser.

I’m not sure what came over me, but I felt a wave of sentimentality as I thought of the stinky perfume Kiki had made for me. I took the lid off of the jar and leaned in to take a sniff.

I immediately regretted my choice. The smell filled my nostrils and instantly coated the back of my throat. I felt like I could taste the very plants that had been used to make the perfume and I coughed and gasped to clear my airway.

I fell back onto my bed and everything went black.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Excerpt: Ti amo così tanto

My thoughts insisted on worrying me.

What was I doing? What was there in Rome? It was madness. I should have booked a plane ticket back to the States instead of embarking on this foolish adventure.

But the truth was that I had dreamed about Italy. Not all the time, but off and on. My freshman year in college, in my first Studio Art class, the professor had showed a short, hand-shot reel of the Art in Italy Program. It featured spindly wildflowers, stone cottages, the bright Mediterranean sun and simple, modern studios for painting, drawing and printmaking. It was an idyllic presentation, and it latched onto my imagination.

I could see myself living, not in one of those small, stone cottages with faded curtains and dried wildflowers on the windowsill, but in a vaguely abandoned (or at least abandoned-feeling) villa in Tuscany, surrounded by nothing but fields of grass and endless countryside. I imagined the way my bare feet would feel on the cold, stone floors, covered in the thin film of dust and dirt from the open doors. Of course the doors would be open all night and day, the air moving restlessly through the furniture-less rooms.

I would paint large canvases in every shade of green. Green-gray, green-brown, green-blue. They would be sky and tree and ground. I would wear old linen blouses without the need for a smock, paintbrushes perched precariously on one of two ladders I would need in order to paint the top portions of the landscape.

And the music -- I couldn’t forget the music. The soft strains of a guitar, filtering through the house, somehow even less obtrusive than the summer breezes, bouncing off the stucco walls and filling the whole house and my whole head. That music, guiding the paintbrush in my hand and building the image that existed only in my mind’s eye.

In the mornings, on the weekends, I dreamt that we would ride bicycles into town, perhaps two or three miles away. We would buy simple vegetables and bread, even a little meat once in a while. We wouldn’t need much, me and the dark-haired boy who would be my musical accompaniment, my muse, my lover.

He was the one who spoke a little Italian. Not a lot, and very poorly, but he was the one who would negotiate the prices as I stood by. Now and then he would give me a new word and I would practice it as we walked our bicycles back to the villa. But the way back would be longer, we would be lazy and distracted. Perhaps we’d stop along the road and nap in the convenient shade of one of the twisted trees that I imagined the Italian countryside would surely have.

It would be sunset by the time we got back, the colored light illuminating the dust particles in the cool rooms. We would still be feeling languid, uninterested in taking up paint or song, and so we would lie down on a simple mattress with white sheets and sheer curtains hung around it from the ceiling, and we would make slow love until, exhausted, we would sleep.

I built a whole world from a five-minute home movie and a crush on the dark-haired musician in my Russian History class. It was intricate and detailed and totally unrealistic, but I would probably never be able to get it out of my head.

The only problem was that program, that dream, was in Corciano.

And I was on my way to Rome.