Skip to main content
Discarding the remains of their picnic on the floor, the waste container affixed to the wall under the window being inconvenient, the twigs undress. Taking turns holding up a threadbare yellow towel, each girl strips out of her jeans and into a two piece bathing suit. The towel is for show. Merilee gets a good look at their impossibly thin bodies.
The mama-to-be is having none of the strip show. Scarred arms crossed over her chest, she slouches in her seat, kicks an empty cola can with her foot and spits out an expletive, vaffanculo, in the direction of her companions. The clink of the can against the metal seat frame rouses Camilla’s attention. She directs a torrent of Italian at Merilee, clearly about the trio. Travellers’ Italian didn’t cover this vocabulary either. Merilee nods, as if that will help.
The twigs, now in bikinis and bare feet, retreat to their seats. The pregnant girl, who is no older than the others, hikes herself up into the aisle, shoves Samuel’s crossed ankles aside and climbs into the seat next to him. Her bulk curls into fetal position, her backside within Samuel’s reach. Spandex tights travel down towards her hips, revealing silver stretch marks. The twigs ignore her, pull on their short shorts ravelled at the cuffs, and cinch tight their wide leather belts.
The next stop is Recco. Best rouse Samuel, they’re getting close. But he’s already awake, that kick by his new companion wrested him from his nap. Checking his timepiece, he assures his wife, not yet. I’ll watch the signs, love.
Amore is Italian for love. According to Merilee’s teacher, amore is a serious word. Her fellow students rolled their eyes. The teacher persevered, being used to irreverence from North Americans. In Italy, how one expresses passion has great significance, even greater consequence. You may say you love your car, mi piace la mia macchina. You love your family of course, mi voglio bene la mia famiglia, but amore is reserved solely for one’s intimate, ti amo. If you use amore to say you love your car, ti amo la mia macchina, then you’re figura brutta — ugly, insensitive, a boor.
Samuel calls Merilee his love. He’d say mia amore if he’d taken the language course. And Merilee says of Samuel, you didn’t exist so I invented you.
The handwritten advert on the community bulletin board promised to teach her how to visualize her dreams, make them come true. This was another class Merilee took. A button-jar assortment of women and men read the same ad, paid the sixty dollar fee and trotted to the elementary school gymnasium with yoga mats under their arms. They lined up their blue and violet mats before a stocky woman named Sofia in a billowy white cotton shift. Her right arm layered in silver bangles, her feet bare, she placed her green mat perpendicular to the others. In her left hand she held a silver bell which she rang three times.
Merilee removed her sandals and stretched out on the violet cell-foam. Sofia guided her acolytes through a visualization to manifest desire. State your intention. Merilee wished for the prize in the claw machine. Sofia directed her followers to take in the sounds and smells around them as they meditated. There was a hint of breeze over the tilted clerestory windows. A motorcycle backfired in the parking lot below.
According to Sofia, the present existed in a transparent globe where they carried out their day to day lives, but there was a parallel globe, one from the future where intentions were already manifest. Merilee opened her eyes, saw only the present. Sofia’s voice droned on. And then it was there. The future globe and the man with his back to her. Samuel showed up in her future world that day. She inhaled the scent of bergamot soap from his shower, felt the stubble of his unshaven cheek. When he manifested in person three months later in a queue at the bank she wasn’t shocked, just relieved that she’d finally caught up to him.
“Il padre?” Camilla taps her spent manicure on the pregnant girl’s thigh. “Lo sai?”
The Sicilian tugs at her tee-shirt in an effort to cover her belly. “Non lo so.” She sneaks a glance at Camilla who nods, has confirmation for what she imagined. She shares with Merilee that the girl has no idea who fathered her child.