Sotto alla Corona
- 2016 (7)
- 2015 (18)
I still couldn't believe the scene Elisa had created. She literally jumped out of her line to hug me, and, in the best Elisa tradition, she made sure that everyone noticed the commotion.
"Erm....Hi..." I said, praying to become transparent as everyone was now staring at me, trying to make out what was happening.
"If you want we can meet up later... You know..... After you've finished with the mourning thing....." I offered, desperately trying to restore some sort of normality.
"Oh honey! I am so done crying! And that fucking veil is messing up my hair big time!" she said whilst still squeezing me in her arms.
"ELISA! For goodness sake! Have some respect! Get back in line!" her grandma Agnese reproached her. Elisa looked around and realised that the whole congregation had come to a standstill, waiting for her to re-join the mourners. Even the priest, from the front of the procession was trying to look back, all the while yelling Hail-Marys, hoping to understand what the problem was.
"Oh gran, I think this year they'll have to make do without the Magdalene...." Elisa said loudly, removing the black cape she was wearing, to reveal a dangerously low-cut black dress and adjusting what she called 'the puppies'....
"I have some catching up to do with this little shit here...." she added, elbowing me in the ribs. The nearby bystanders were aghast.
"ELISA! Are you coming or not?" another of the mourners hissed from beneath her veil.
"OH FOR GOD'S SAKE WOMEN!! JUST GO!!" Elisa shouted, startling all of us.
Agnese muttered something shaking her head in disapproval and, furiously turning her wheels, disappeared in the crowd.
"Cry, cry cry.... What's the fucking point uh?" Elisa added, as if talking to herself.
"You are talking about our Lord Jesus that died to save us!" another old woman reproached her from behind.
"HAS HE? WELL, IT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE IT'S WORKED FOR YOU, DOES IT SISTER GRIM?" she yelled back at the poor woman, that I only just realised was quite grotesque-looking....
"Eli, that was a tad overdone don't you think? I mean..... That poor woman.... Your gran must be pissed..." I said in a small voice
"Oh she'll get over it..... They'll all have to.... At least I don't speak behind their backs.... I still don't know why the hell I've let gran convince me to do this in the first place...". She concluded, adjusting her glorious wine-red hair. It never occurred to me in the past that Elisa could be so arrogant.... How much did she change during these past seven years? I couldn't wait to find out.
After the commotion subsided and the procession returned to its appropriate sombre tone, Elisa decided to join me and Steven for a night drink at the local Pub (yes, they DO have a pub... Back in the nineties, all over the province, Pubs started popping up everywhere as cool, new drinking joints, were one could sample an infinite variety of lagers and have the fortune read once a week by the resident psychic, usually a ghostly-pale girl that spent her teenage years sulking, dying her hair jet black and listening to Black Sabbath).
The fact that Elisa could speak english quite well was a definite bonus, rescuing me from looming hours of tedious simultaneous translation.
It was nice going back after so many years. The place hadn't changed a bit and I easily found what used to be our favourite spot, its table still showing mine and Elisa's initials, carved out on the corner.
"I want to order my usual..." I said
"Red Douglas and cheese fries!" Elisa exclaimed clapping her hands "Do you remember what mine was?"
"Erm.... Stella Artois and a bit of fondling with the new waiter?" I said scratching my head
"You bitch!" she exclaimed, laughing out loud.
She knew I was right though.... Elisa used to be quite predatorial with men. Of course, Dina always preferred to use the not-so-subtle term 'nymphomaniac', leading to even more fights between us.
But that was Dina.
And so, over some beer, cheese fries and cigarettes, we began catching up.
"Tell me everything!" she enticed, with a glint in her eyes
"Oh...Wait, wait, wait! You first!" I answered, taking a long sip from my glass
"Uh! Ok.... Nothing much really..... I fled this God-forsaken place, as you well know, went to Milan, blah blah blah, got a job in a magazine and I have been there ever since, worked my way up, blah blah blah and now I am assistant fashion editor with my name credited on page three of every issue....." she concluded, snapping her fingers.
Some more time was spent discussing various fashion editorials she coordinated and my own exit from Gucci after eight years, but then she dropped a bomb, casually, as if hoping not to be noticed:
"Uh...And there's another thing, but nobody knows just yet, so keep it a secret ok?" she whispered, leaning across the table towards us.
"Have you finally found someone special?" I asked, winking at her.
"Yes! Yes I have! To be precise, I did.... But... We are no longer together...."
"Awww... Why?" Steven asked
"Because I thought he should've divorced his wife and he felt otherwise... Bastard..." she answered, lighting up a cigarette.
"No....Nobody special yet... But soon there will be...." she hinted.
"What? What do you mean?" I was genuinely lost.
"Marco..... I am pregnant!" she said hiding her face in her hands.
I felt my jaw hit the floor.
"You whaaaat? Are you serious? How much pregnant? Who's the father?" I asked in rapid succession.
"Alphonse.... Alphonse-Marie Mancini.... The French guy I was just telling you about.... You know.... The married one..." she answered, still with her face in her hands.
"But...but.... And what did he say... I mean.... He is married right? What does he think about this.....Is that why you two split up? OH MY GOD ELISA! HE DOES KNOW DOESN'T HE?" I blurted out, unaware of my raised tone.
No answer from her....
"He doesn't.... He doesn't know does he?" I just stated, falling back into my chair.
Steven was just staring at the table, unwilling to comment.
"What am I supposed to tell him? Uh? 'I am carrying another of your unwanted children?' he would just ask me to terminate the pregnancy, as he did before...." she dismissed me with a brisk hand gesture
"BEFORE? How many times before Elisa?" I dared to ask
"Twice.... Two abortions.... And if you tell anyone I fucking kill you!" she hissed, now showing the cracks under the seemingly super confident surface.
"Two abortions..... Elisa..... Why did you let this happen?" Steven butted in, leaving me open mouthed
"Because I loved him..... I loved the way he made me feel.... When I was with him I felt..... Beautiful..." she replied in a long sigh.
"But he is a married man Elisa! You don't get involved with a married man and get pregnant three times!" I exclaimed
"What about the child now? What are you planning to do?" Steven asked
"I AM KEEPING THE BABY!" she shouted, but luckily the music was still louder than her voice
"I am keeping the baby this time.... It's my baby.... I am 35 this year with no significant other on sight, this might be my last chance to become a mother... " she stated, in a resolute tone
"Elisa, I didn't even know you ever wanted to become a mother..." I just said, looking for an explanation
"And what would you know uh? The girl you used to know seven years ago has grown a little..... When was the last time we spoke? You don't know what I had to go through to make it out of this shit-hole and make a career for myself... You don't know the loneliness I had to endure in a big city that wasn't my own.... Don't talk like you know my thinking process, cause you don't know..." she replied abruptly, almost as if trying to justify herself and leaving me speechless for a while.
"I am sorry.... You are right.... But... What about Agnese? This is why you accepted to stand in for her tonight at the procession right? You're going to tell her before you return to Milan..." I gathered
"Yes... I am planning to.... She won't like it...." she said, and I knew what she meant.
"Well, she has raised you as her own daughter... Why wouldn't she be supportive of your decision?" I asked
"Marco, ever since my mum and dad decided to split up and make a life for themselves without me in it, she has always struggled to give me a normal upbringing.... I know that she only wants the best for me, she has always perceived me as a casualty of a broken family.... Somehow I know that she dreams of a white wedding for me and of a marriage that will last..."
"Elisa, your gran loves you.... Don't take away this joy from her.... Besides, don't you think that once the baby is in the world, you will need her help and support? Having a baby it's tough business but it brings such joy....." I said
"And how would you know exactly?" she said, distractedly, as if to dismiss my input
"Well, as you asked, this brings me to the following topic of the evening....." I announced solemnly, reaching for Steven's hand under the table.
"Wait! You are not going to tell me that you are one of those freaky gay couples that want to have a baby are you? Are you doing a Ricky Martin on me?" she said in an amused tone.
I remained silent, my face totally screwed up in an expression that betrayed the hurt I was feeling....
"Oh shit!" Steven whispered from behind his beer glass. He tried to keep hold of my hand, but I snatched it off his grip.
I became dead serious and as a result, Elisa's face collapsed and her bemused expression was quickly replaced by a purplish tinge of embarrassment. She lowered her eyes and fumbled for another cigarette.
"And what do you mean exactly by that?" I asked
"Oh... Nothing.... Just having a laugh...." she tried unsuccessfully
"Elisa, don't blow smoke up my arse, what do you mean? Me and Steven have a baby boy, almost one year old, his name is Gabriel and he is now asleep in mum and dad's house...." I carried on, trying to get a reaction.
"ARE YOU FUCKING LISTENING TO ME?" I shouted
"Yes.... That's wonderful.... You two must be so happy...." she just said, without even looking at me
"Yes.... Isn't it just? WONDERFUL ISN'T IT?" I shouted again.
"Let's get the fuck out of here...." I said to Steven "This evening was a waste.... Actually no.... It wasn't..... Now I know what seven years in Milan can do to a once sane person...." and I grabbed my jacket to leave
"WAIT!" Elisa said "Wait.... Please... I am sorry.... This came out all wrong..... It's just that..." she stuttered
"WHAT?" I asked, without sitting down
"This is new to me.... I will need time to get my head around this.... I need to get to a conclusion over this..... You know..." she said
"To a conclusion? As in 'I need to determine if two faggots can raise a child' type of conclusion? " I taunted her, my eyes swelling up with tears
"Marco, come on, we are friends.... I find it absurd not telling you what I think...." she just answered in an atrociously resolute tone, sitting back in her chair.
"Friends? What friends? How do you expect me to sit here and tell you all about the most amazing thing that ever happened to me and my partner, knowing what you really think? How can I be friends with someone that does not share my happiness?"
"BUT I AM HAPPY FOR YOU!" she shouted
"Elisa, this is how little you know about happiness.... Happiness is an absolute, without reservations, you cannot be happy for me with half your brain and with the other half still investigate if I am committing a crime towards nature..... You cannot give me support with one hand whilst throwing your doubts on the table with the other......Save your lies for your gran...." I was trembling
"Well..." she interrupted me, "It's just that, two men having a baby.... It is kind of.... Unnatural.... I mean, not that two men cannot raise a child, but, you know, the fact that this child will never know his mother..... You two guys are great, don't get me wrong, it's just that... You know... The female figure and all that...." she carried on, always without looking at me
"STOP THIS!" I shouted "I suppose that you would know what it's like to grow up in a fucked up family, but we are not that type of family! This child was wanted and loved from the very first time we even discussed the possibility of having a child.... It took us three fucking years to become parents and every inch of the way, in our hearts, we were aching to have him in our arms.... HE IS NOT THE RESULT OF A RECKLESS ONE-NIGHT-STAND ELISA!", I went on "What about you then? What about your child? Are you going to tell him that his dad didn't want him, as much as he didn't want you? Are you going to have this child because you really want to be a mother or because it represents a sort of alimony for you? Is it healthy, natural and honest to bring a child into this world with these premises? IS IT?" I banged my hand on the table.
"THIS IS INSANE! YOU ARE NOT MAKING YOUR SITUATION ANY MORE JUST BY COMPARING IT TO MINE! I AM FUCKING ENTITLED TO MY OPINIONS!" Elisa yelled, standing up
"YOU ARE!" suddenly Steven shouted back "As much as we are entitled to tell you to go fuck yourself AND your opinions...."
"Let's go..." he just said, taking my arm and walking me out of the pub.
"I'm sure you don't mind settling the bill..... You probably know the waiter....." he sniggered at her whilst pushing me out of the door.
I was in tatters. There are some bullets you can't dodge, and for sure, I have never been able to dodge a friendly fire.