This is something you can’t foresee. You’ll never be able to foresee it. Sometimes you can expect it but it’s never easy to accept it.
However you put it, it’s not easy to live with, to understand. It’s impossible to do that. But one thing is sure: when it happens, your life changes.
There are a lot of people in this world and each and every one of them explains it in a different way. They would say it’s the God’s will, whoever their God or Deity is. Some of them would say it’s the fate or destiny or life.
I don’t have a personal explanation and to be honest I’m not even sure I want to find one right now. What I want it’s just trying to forget and to suffer, because it’s what I feel I need at this stage.
Someone would say that it’s too early to talk about that, but I believe that it’s not. It’s the right place, it’s the right time and it’s the right way.
Writing has always reached such deep layers of my heart and consciousness and plunged its beneficial balm so deep inside me; I could lose myself in thinking.
It’s such a struggle to keep going and to find a way to calm down and to think. Even sitting down on the sofa, trying to recollect my thoughts is something not easy and the most of the times I’m not even sure I want to do that because it’s too painful.
What am I talking about?
I remember when that I was young I spent a whole summer in Volterra, a nice small medieval town in Tuscany, high wall included.
I’ve always loved the idea of walls around a city. You feel protected and at the same time you feel like your secrets are kept safe. Also, you feel entitled to aspect that your life can proceed undisturbed.
There are many towns in Tuscany surrounded by walls but Volterra is tiny and cosy and you feel like there is no way the time could pass by while inside them. It looks like a portrait of an old crone, watching the passing days and years for us, simple humans, living a life way too short to compete with the time itself.
Nothing was more wrong. Well, I was wrong but I didn’t know yet.
I thought that in that particular moment, when my writer’s block struck the fiercer of its blows, Volterra would be the right place where to start again.
I arrived there last June and it was then that my nightmare started.
I think but, mainly, I hope I’m ready to write it down now what happened. Whether prepared or not anyway I have to or at least I owe it to myself and to Sabrina.
Being back in a place you liked a lot and where you felt comfortable it’s always great. Already climbing down the aircraft stair case I deeply breathed the hot and dry summer air. It was a balm after the cold rain in Dublin.
My dad was waiting for me at the airport. He still had to work one year in the bank branch there, before he could retire. I thought I was lucky to be able to use his small apartment once again for my studies.
Being back in that small and quiet town was nice and comforting. First stop was lunch in the Ombra della sera restaurant where I had my usual two servings of pasta with mushrooms, but the owner remembered it too well. It was like being back at home.
While dad was at work I’d had the time to wonder around and have a look at the small streets, at the face of the tourists running around to have a glimpse of the whole town in just a short afternoon.
I wouldn’t like that. I think this place invite you in its intimacy and it’s only when you get it you can say you understand it. Also it’s then, when you understand its secret, like I did. And sometimes these nice and sunny stone walls can hide dark and cold sides where the supernatural can lure you using what most it’s important for you, weakening what makes you human.
The areas I’ve always loved about Volterra are Park Fiumi and the the ancient ruins of the Roman theatre.
The park would make me feel immerged into the nature, in contact with the deep energy of the universe and mother Earth. Also laying on the perfumed grass it was possible to watch the great stony prison which towered on me just behind a small wall. It’s when you look at those tiny windows that you feel free and most of all alive.
To concentrate, however, and to have a deep moment of communion with my origin, the best place to go it’d be the theatre. Silent, maybe because too big or too open to hold inside the sound of hundreds of feet wondering around. Ancient, obviously, but still there.
Still there, exactly when I needed. And there was the place where everything started. Well not really started, but for sure almost ended…for me.
When you live abroad, being back to your country for a while means also try to get in touch and meet with the old friends, with the people you’ve always met and always known since you were young.
That might be valid if I was back to my hometown, but I didn’t want to get too distracted. In fact, being back in the middle of almost nowhere, inside the shallow of a hilled area, the ones you want to have with you are just those friends you would call family.
Friends you couldn’t live without, but you would have to, in case the necessity arouses.
It’s just so hard.
I hadn’t meet Damiano more than two years before but it was love at first sight. I knew he was special and I knew he would be important for me.
He didn’t delude my expectations and he became a good friend. My best friend. My brother.
He thought me everything he knew about having dreams, following them and letting yourself being tempted and rocked by your own feelings while performing that magic which is art.
He taught me I still had in my deluded life a sparkle. The sparkle found back my dream and I started writing once more.
Whenever I go back to Italy I’m going to call him and try to meet up. The same was this time, and who better than him could help with a shiny sparkle my rusty writing?
Since I decided already I was going to spend a few months there we decided to meet after August, after the summer tour with his band, the Love Beat.
They are great….were.
Sometimes you feel it, but you don’t know it yet. Or you know it but your brain won’t register anyway, because it’s too painful, too ridiculous, too bad or simply because it doesn’t really belong to the human kind to foresee something like that.
After the whole day spent in the park, I went back home. Dad’s apartment was a rented small flat on the first floor of an old building. It was nice, because located inside of one of those small alleys, dark even at midday on a hot summer day.
But because I needed to see those ruins at least once a day, I decided to detour a bit and get the long way back home stopping on the top tier of sits of the theatre. I was at the very top and I could feel power inside me watching the whole site. The blood stained stones were stunning at sunset time.
It was right then that I had the feeling that something was wrong. A wave of harsh pain filled my body and anxiety poured inside my lungs, refraining me to breath properly. I sat down on the stone and touched the grass growing inside the cracks. I looked around completely disoriented to see if anybody was feeling the same.
Despite the stone was still hot after standing a whole day under the sun I was shivering. My sight was blurred, I realised I was crying and I didn’t know why, but I felt inconsolable.
I brushed my eyes and hosted back the glasses on my nose. Life around me was passing by. Tourists were keep doing pictures, nobody minded someone sitting around them, in particular if her hand where full of books and notes.
Looking around me, I let the ruins distract me a bit, until I set my eyes on the thermal area. Was it me or my sight still failing? I could swear I saw a bit of grass moving.
A rush of terror replaced the shivering and the sadness. It shook me from toes to my split ends and I ran away. Suddenly a strong wind caught me inside the alleys towards home and rain started to fall. I forgot that stupid weather forecasting.
Once closed the tiny wooden entrance door on the thunderstorm, the feeble flickering lamp lightning the grey stone stairs didn’t help my anxiety. Even the walls were made of rough stone and I found them very romantic or creepy, it depended on my mood.
It must have been the wind then I thought while climbing the small stone steps up to the apartment.
Once on the landing I opened the even smaller apartment door on the familiar environment. It didn’t help much though, because dad was back home for the weekend and I was left behind, on my request, to beat the writer’s block.
The apartment became suddenly very dark and the window left open let some of the rain in so I had to dry the floor and pick up the broken vase full of flowers that the wind knocked from the window sill.
I closed the window; I turned on the stereo with the last cd by the Heart Beat, put the frozen pizza into the oven and went into the shower. I love it hot even during the summer.
Suddenly the panicking feeling hit me again. I curled myself on the floor, the water hitting my scalp and I started to cry and then to sob uncontrollably.
I don’t know how long I was there for, but I felt it was long.
As soon as I manage to pull myself together, I turned the water off and I heard my mobile was ringing. I put the towel around my chest as fast and as clumsy as I could and I ran towards the living room.
The house was so small that it didn’t take more than three seconds
“Hello?” I said
There was no answer on the other side.
Looking at the display my fear for bad news faded. Missed call from mum.
Maybe she wanted to know if I’m getting all right. Always like that, mums, can’t shake off the feeling you’re their baby.
I thought I was going to call her after dinner. She could wait I calmed down anyway, otherwise the questioning that would follow would never end. I just knew it.
I almost lowered the telephone back on the table when it ringed again, so suddenly that I jumped and my stomach squeezed at once.
Private number appeared on the display.
“Hello?” I asked again with a mixture of surprise and fear.
“Fedora, it’s me, Sabrina”
“Oh, hi! Hi Sabrina…sorry I didn’t aspect your voice” I said slowly. There was something in her tone.
“I’m calling from home with the international call card! That’s why is private” she said. She was talking with a voice that it seemed not belonging to her. It was unreal and my anxiety rose once more.
“Sabrina, is everything ok?” I asked not sure if I really wanted to ask.
“No” she answered slowly “It’s not”
There was a moment of silence. I sat on the sofa behind me, the springs creaked. The storm outside was in crescendo and the old windows were moving nosily under the pressure of the wind.
I could feel the communication wasn’t over because I heard Sabrina breathing on the other side of the phone.
“What’s wrong?” I asked trying to sound comfortable.
“Are you in Italy?” she asked, ignoring my question.
“I am” I said.
“So it’s better you turn on the TV on the news channel” she said and then silence fell again.
I didn’t ask anything. The perfume of almost ready pizza was filling the small environment. I tuned on the TV and I searched the channel.
…sure about how many victims there are, but surely it was a tragic accident. Many young people of talent died and….
“Isn’t that the place where Damiano was going to play tonight?” I asked almost casually, like the question wasn’t concerning my life whatsoever.
“Yes…” she said slowly and then added “They’ve been reading the news for a while. It didn’t happen more than two hours ago”
“Fedora, I’m sorry. I can be there with you in a few hours. Are you at your parents’?”
“No” I said. My brain refused to work. Why was she worrying for me? Ok, it happened. I’m sure Damiano was ok and his lot as well with him. But what happened exactly?
“Ok” I said even light-hearted “Excuse me I’m going to call Damiano immediately and check if he’s ok”
“No Fedora, haven’t you just heard?” Sabrina asked me, her tone was becoming worried.
“What was I supposed to hear?” and I was aware again that the TV was still on. Outside was pitch black. The wind calmed down but the rain increased in violence.
There was a lighting that showed a small string of smoke coming from the oven.
“Fedora, they’ve just told their names. Heart Beat member all died in the accident”
…we repeat the list of the victims of this tragic event in case someone’s just tuned. LollyDS, PinHead, Heart Beat bands, bass player of JazzaFee…
But I heard no more, just my whole body filled with the crashing of the thunder outside.
I heard Sabrina calling me from afar but I didn’t register.
I sat on the edge of the sofa and I stared at the TV, I couldn’t even see properly the images let only hear the speaker. The thunderstorm was furious outside.
My brain was repeating Sabrina’s words like trying to understand them. I couldn’t breathe properly and I felt like a huge stone was hosting itself and then nestling on my breast. The more the stone nestled, the less easily I could breath. I felt my legs going numb, I fell on the floor and I started sobbing curled almost under the sofa.
The storm was raging outside, the windows seemed almost breaking apart, the howling of the wind was scaring and the faint sound of the TV speaker was still in the background.
Although barely conscious of the noises around me, I couldn’t stay I knew what was going on. I don’t know how long I spent on the floor curled on myself but when I heard heavy bangs on the entrance door I become aware of the burning smell surrounding me and the black smoke that was filling the apartment.
“Fedora, open! Now!”
It was Sabrina’s voice.
“Sabrina?” I called, but nothing came out of my throat. My voice lingered somewhere around my breast and didn’t move from there.
I tried to get up. I was still under the sofa. My legs weren’t moving properly. It took me some times to move my limbs and getting on my feet.
The banging was still raging outside the door. I could see it moving under the strength of my other dearest friend.
Still trying to figure out what happened exactly and to recall all the events happened before I fell or I slept on the floor, I dragged my body to the door and opened. I felt like someone took a good shot at me as punch back.
“Are you mental or what?” Sabrina shouted and the hugged me tight. I felt pain everywhere.
“But, what are…” I didn’t know even where to start. What are you doing here? How did you know where my father’s house was? How did you come here? But mainly the main question was
“Why are you here?”
“Silly question…for you of course!” she said releasing me and drying her tears.
I didn’t move, I still didn’t understand. I felt sad and confused like it happens when you wake suddenly up after a very bad nightmare. I stared at the spot in front of me until the sight was blurred.
“What the hell happened here? Did you decide to kill yourself maybe?”
She rushed to the window and opened it, and then to the oven. I wheeled on the spot slowly, it was like my brain and body couldn’t work at normal speed or synchronize at all. On the tray she pulled out there was a small piece of charcoal that I think was supposed to be my pizza.
“It’s a miracle you didn’t suffocate with all this smoke. I think it’s due to this bad windows of yours” she said urging to leave her waterproof jacket on the chair and going to the cooking area.
“I’ll prepare a coffee for you. You sit on the sofa”
I decided to obey and I took my time to sit down. There was no way my brain could follow that small brown haired storm that entered in the house. At least at the moment.