Flowers are a fickle thing, they are there in beginnings and endings and loyal to neither.
He thought back to the beginning, eight years ago that seemed like a lifetime and a second all at once. It was a Wednesday evening and he was in the classic mid-week rut, wishing he hadn’t already told his friends he’d be at aperitivo after work. The isolation of his apartment and a solitary Nastro Azzurro on the couch with the game on was tempting. But one of his pet peeves was cancelling at the last minute, so he begrudgingly buttoned his trench, popped the collar against the light breeze and headed off towards Piazza Duomo. As he passed his reflection in the Prada window front, he took stock of his reflection: tall, broad-shouldered, young enough to still be reckless on occasion, light brown hair a little too messy to pass for being intentional, hazel eyes that his carta d’identità decided to call “verde”, and a 5 o’clock shadow that already looked like he hadn’t shaved in days. No, he didn’t look classically Italian and the only thing that gave him away was his perfectly pressed blue shirt and leather shoes. As an art director, he was used to curating beauty. It was probably his downfall because beauty is always evolving and so did his girlfriends, to satisfy the peaks and valleys of a life inundated by beautiful things. Sometimes he blamed it on Italy as well, he was surrounded by beauty. If you don’t stop in your tracks to admire one church, you’ll just as easily find another, more stunning, a few blocks on. At least this is what he always believed until that Wednesday evening in primavera when he saw her.
She wasn’t classically beautiful, she was like that first church that you could walk by in hopes of finding a better one. Especially in a town like Milan. Thinking about it now, it was something about her that was indefinable, a combination of things, a chemical equation that resulted in alchemy. Her long, dark hair falling down her back as she laughed deeply, her head thrown back as if she were laughing at God, her leather glove clad-hand gripping a book that he couldn’t make out. He would later discover it was a copy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Had he known how this would all turn out, he would have realized that the book was a sign. Yet, as so many men before him in history, a glance was enough. A laugh was all it took. He was entranced, spellbound by her presence. Not by her literal presence but the way in which she was present like no other woman he had ever known. She was living in that moment that he saw her across the via, not only existing like so many of us are. She was exuberant, radiant, and real. She made him want to live.
Those words were the beginning, and strangely also the end if read with the end in mind. She made him want to live. And so he left.
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In the first eBook:
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