Runner-up Bella Tuscany Writing Contest
By Chandi Wyant
The sun was hot and the piazza empty, just as it had been on that day last year. The piazza was the same, the old walls of the surrounding buildings, fading from ochre to yellow, crumbling in patches. The cobbled street, so narrow that the sun didn’t reach it, ending at the bright yellow piazza, full of noonday heat.
Just as before, I felt a sense of anticipation there. I loved the piazza best at this time of day when everyone else was taking a siesta. When even the pigeons retreated to shaded corners, pressing their bodies against ancient gray stones. When the cobbled-stones themselves, stretching across the piazza floor, appeared to sleep. When the peaceful statue of Santo Spirito was alone in the center, and I could almost feel him sigh under the sand-colored robes, unable to retreat out of the sun like everyone else.
The air was permeated with a sense of waiting. The pigeons waited for the passing of the noonday sun, waited to perch once again on the head of Santo Spirito and flap under people’s feet. The closed green shutters waited to be flung open, the air waited to be filled with the sound of Italian voices. I waited too, waited for Marco to come walking across the piazza towards me.
I remembered every detail of our encounter last year in this same sultry month of July. He had complained about the heat, but I loved it. I loved wearing sundresses and sandals and wandering through the quiet streets of his medieval town under the noonday sun.
“Sei pazza.” he had told me, when I said I liked to be out at that hour.
“Because it is like passion lying dormant,” I had wanted to explain, but I lacked the words in his language.
I remembered how he had stood, blocking the sun, looking down at me. His feet apart, in Italian leather shoes. His long legs snug in faded blue jeans. His dark eyes squinting under thick brows. Most of all I remembered his sensuous mouth.
As I followed him across the piazza, he had asked why I was so silent. I hadn’t wanted to talk, hadn’t wanted to disturb my dream. He had thought we were simply walking across the piazza, but to me, we were rising and falling on waves leading to my destiny.
Years later the image of the afternoon piazza has mingled effortlessly into that sun-drenched valley of my mind where I keep my favorite recollections — those of Italy. Sometimes it is bittersweet, when I steal a trip into that vale of memories, and I wish I had run off to live in Italy when I had had the chance. Other times I am filled with gratitude, for having truly known passion and for having experienced a place that made my soul sing.