codetta

okay so you can imagine this as a really spaced out movie plotline, or a dream. either works.

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dread hangs in the air, and when the young man enters the house, he is met by chaos. his colleagues, his brothers and sisters, are suffering, and he watches them all die one by one. the panicked screams haze his mind, disequilibrium taking over his body. he runs from person to person, the words “what do i do?” run on and on in his head. but it doesn’t matter. they all go down, one by one; and left on his knees is one young man, shaking with the sobs that have taken over him. frightened. alone.

~

a mass of gold glimmers harshly in the window display. watches and rings, necklaces and earrings; the jewellery swells over, diamonds tinkering like cut stars in the sunlight. i turn around and gaze over the sea of people, swishing around each other. via de corso is sweltering.

~

there’s a price on my head. i can’t move, i can’t breathe, without being watched. everywhere, danger lurks. small dots flashing through the walls, microphones in the ceilings, eyes on my back. they’re everywhere. how did they get in? what do they want from me? this is too big. i think of what happened, of the others lost. the grief strikes me once more, and i find myself remembering the list of names. he wasn’t on there, that must be why he wasn’t a target. gratefulness flickers within me, at least he was spared.

~

i know what they want. of course that’s what they want. no.


~

every now and then, always without warning, they send one of their people to tell me that it’s inevitable. that when the time is right, they’ll take the child. my child. as the time goes by, i grow more tired. i become resigned. it’s too big, what can i do? if they want something, they take it. there isn’t a night where i fall asleep without a headache, tears exhausting me beyond the point of consciousness.

~

when i look at her, it seems like she knows. she’s only two, but it seems like she knows things that i don’t. this miraculous little mistake, half me – zero mine. i tell her i’m sorry all the time, put my arms around her and try to pour my love so deep that it’ll run through her blood forever. even when i’m gone. when she hugs back, it’s like she does it to comfort me. as if disaster isn’t really on its way. as if it’s all in my head.

~

one night, there’s a knock on my door, and i know it’s them. my fingers tremble as i unlock it. it’s a woman, small but strong, the steel flashing sharp in her green eyes. the word “nonna” flashes in my head. i ask her if she wants to come in, but she declines. she tells me that she’s come to tell me that he’s coming tomorrow. i ask who he is, and she smiles knowingly, as if i should already know the answer. a part of me wonders if maybe i do, but the thought disappears before i manage to chase it down. don’t worry, she tells me. the pieces will fall where they may.

~

oh. oh.

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we’re sitting at the table, facing each other. my eyes are fixed on him, his won’t meet mine. he hasn’t touched his tea, flower floating around in the cold liquid. i take a breath, about to ask if he wants me to refill it, when his head snaps up. guilt shades his eyes, green turning murky. i didn’t know. his voice is thick with anguish. i know, i reply. i had accepted what had happened that night a long time ago, each day of seeing my girl making it easier and easier. his expression doesn’t change. i didn’t know that they would do that to us, he says. not with the hurt of a victim, but with the anger of a betrayed. wait. they?, i ask, taken aback. he slumps down further, tries to make himself smaller. realization creeps in, and my blood runs cold. i demand to hear it from him. the whole story. what, exactly, is going on here? 

a set-up. il capo bastone. drugged wine. illegitimate conception. et tu brute.

~

our eyes bore into each other. is he dead?, i ask. one side of his mouth quirks up. a small smile creeps onto my face. good.

~

me on my third espresso, he on his seventh cup of jasmine tea. i realize my heart’s been fluttering even since before i took my first sip. after all this time. i wonder out loud, now what? he raises his cup, golden watch throwing specks of light on the wall, and replies: now, we start over. i roll my eyes, smiling, and clink my cup to his. i thought that the movies made up that thing about the mafia being overly dramatic. i stand up, towering over him. well in that case, there’s someone that i want you to meet.

fine

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