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Loretta was not the type of person who was able to live with things. She often wondered how other people could. She needed to be genuine, to be true to herself. Her temperament rendered her incapable of feigning affection.
“I miss you Loretta,” Gherard said to her once. “And yet you’re right there.”
The sounds of Venice wafted in again through the open window. Groups of tourists were returning from Teatro La Fenice, the opera house on the other side of the canal, where Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi was performing. The same gondolier Loretta heard earlier was once more playing O Mio Babbino Caro on the accordion and singing along.
Loretta was still lying on the bed, next to Gherard, lost in thought, considering that, possibly, she may not go and sit by the sea tomorrow with a bottle of wine, bread, and cheese, after all.
“Why would you want to fashion your life after them?” Gerhard had scoffed when she mentioned her seaside plan earlier. “Hemingway shot himself in the head. Fitzgerald turned into a drunk. When he died no one went to the funeral. Not a single soul came, or even sent a flower.”
No — tomorrow or the next day, they will move on to Florence — and walk around the Ponte Vecchio. Pon-te Vecc-hi-o — how beautiful a name is that for something that in English means an old bridge?
Poor F. Scott Fitzgerald, though. Loretta wished she could go back and rewrite his life to give it a better ending. She wished she could reach out, put her arms around him, and hold him, kiss his forehead and give him a flower. The thought of this made her sad, causing her, once again, to think of Flavio.
Loretta obligingly conceded to Gherhard’s advances, with thoughts of Flavio still lingering in her head. But then she thought of the incident on the gondola this morning and wondered who would really want a man like Flavio — a man who intentionally rubs up against other women and flirts with them openly in front of their husbands.
She lies there, lamenting sadly to herself, as to whether lasting tenderness is only a fleeting fantasy. She reaches out, relenting, and tentatively places a hand on Gerhard’s stiffened thigh. She tenses her body and bites her lip, hard, to try and stop the tears, sliding slowly from the corners of her eyes, making their way down onto her cheeks, as Gerhard continues moving inside of her.