Today, I’m trying my hand at a bit of short fiction. This piece of flash fiction is under 600 words at 595 words. This scene popped into my head last night, perhaps because at dinner, our family was talking about our Italian heritage and the legacies we leave behind (I know…a little heavy for a dinner conversation during a coronavirus crisis). Nonetheless, I knew I was going to write this scene when I went to bed last night, and I banged it out this morning, just to touch base with my creativity. I’m so immersed in teaching 4 online courses right now, that I have little time for something like this, but on Fridays, I’m forcing myself to have an hour of creative time. Here’s the result of that space I’m giving myself.
Hope you are all well and holding up okay under the present circumstances.
Franco and The Blonde
The old man sat at his window that overlooked the tiny, cobblestone street. The day had been long, and the sun had just set. He had eaten his pasta and gravy, the warmth of the summer day coming in through the window. Since he’d aged, he’d found himself not being as affected by the heat as he had been when Filomena was alive. She had despised the oppressive heat, and she would do her needlework right in front of the fan he’d bought for her.
The old man’s window was open, and he sat in his worn, deep green chair, looking out the window and across the narrow road and into the window of the blonde woman’s appartmento. He felt like an intruder, but it didn’t stop him from watching her. Night after night, she would sit at the window of her dressing table, dry her long, blonde hair with a hairdryer, and then sit and curl it, her long locks cascading down her back and along the sides of her face.
His eyesight had grown weaker over the years, and yet, he could still follow her patterns nightly. It gave him great pleasure to watch her from his window; she never pulled down the blinds. Never. And so, each night, Franco would watch her from afar and reminisce.
Filomena’s hair had been long and blonde as well. She hailed from Naples, and Franco and Filomena had met in Portofino on the beach over fifty years ago. He remembered watching her with her friends, wearing her blue checked bikini, passing a beach ball back and forth to each other, her blonde hair blowing in the summer breeze, her dark, big Sophia Loren glasses perched on her Roman nose. Some might not believe in love at first sight, but Franco knew immediately when he saw Filomena that something would pass between them. He would never admit to knowing they would marry and have a family, but deep down inside, he knew it to be true. Only Filomena knew the depth of his admiration and love for her that he felt immediately.
The glow of the light in the blonde’s apartment flickered; Franco watched for her reaction. There was none. She turned to look behind her, and then, when the flash of darkness was over, she gazed back into the mirror that was in front of her and continued to curl her hair. Watching her each night had become a habit. He wondered about her, where she came from, who her family was, if she had a lover, and why she was here in Siena. She’d only lived in that appartmento for six months, and for six months Franco had been mesmerized.
She reminded him of Filomena in her twenties.
In fact, she reminded him of Filomena at every age—in her twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and beyond.
Just then, there was a knock at the door. Franco was startled. He hadn’t expected anyone. He had not been informed that someone was coming by. Perhaps one of his neighbors needed something.
Franco took one last look at the blonde, and hobbled out of his chair. He shuffled to the door and opened it.
“Hey, Papa,” his son said. “I thought you might need a little company tonight.”
“Ah, good, good,” Franco said, patting his son on the back.
“And Mariana baked you some cookies. How about a little card game?”
Franco looked at his son, and his son looked at Franco. His son caught a glimpse of the woman across the way and looked back at his father.
“You missing Mamma tonight?” his son asked him.
“Always,” Franco said, and his son wrapped him up in a hug that almost made Franco cry.
Stephanie Verni is Professor of Communication at Stevenson University. She is the author of 5 works of fiction and the co-author of one academic textbook on Event Planning. Her character-driven books are set in beautiful Maryland locations and examine the realities of the human heart. Connect with her on Instagram at stephanie.verni or on Twitter at @stephverni. Or, visit her Amazon page at Stephanie Verni, Author.