“Fedora, are you even aware why I’m here?” Sabrina asked pushing the cup of coffee in front of me.
I wrapped automatically my hand around the hot mug and answered “Not sure” in a breathe. My voice was feeble and my eyes were steady on the table. I saw Sabrina preparing some biscuits on ta plate. It was like everything was happening in a dream, a dream so real that you can mix up with the reality.
“Not sure. Not sure she said” letting her hands fall on her tights. She slid the chair from under the table and adjusted it to sit down in front of me and continued “That’s a real good start!”
I didn’t answer and I didn’t even look at her.
Then she stood up again, came close to me and hit my face as hard as she could with the palm of her hand.
“I love you Fedora, very much” she said, her voice trembling “But you have to react. I’m here!”
I didn’t answer; my head was empty, completely blank.
I forced myself up using the table as support and without saying a word I took the door and descended the steps.
I heard Sabrina call me but her voice was distant, unreal…was I still dreaming?
Because it couldn’t be anything else than a dream.
I put my hand on the door and I exited in the street.
It didn’t happen.
The air still smelled of freshly fallen rain.
Not to him, not to them, not to me.
It was dark but I didn’t fully realize it.
Wondering for the tiny stone street I felt alone, I felt cold although in a summer night. A part of my brain was starting to awaken and found that the wet stones made the environment spooky even.
All the lights were off. It could have been a ghost town, but then I walked by the bakery and thorough the shutter I saw a feeble yellow orange light.
I stopped behind there staring at the metal and without realizing it I went so close that I could feel the cold on my forehead. Filling the nostrils with the smell only outside a bakery you can smell, my stomach started to growl.
I’d become aware that I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch the day before…but then an invisible fist squeezed my stomach forcing me to think about the first time I ate something with Damiano, it was outside a bakery like this one, and I felt only a great urge to vomit.
I couldn’t detach myself from the cold metal, the only thing that kept me a bit more conscious. I started crying, this time silently. My sight was so blurred that the light coming from the gaps was like a dream.
It couldn’t be true. Not now. Not so suddenly.
It couldn’t be true. There must be a mistake. And I didn’t even say him goodbye.
And I didn’t even talk to him recently.
It’s just not fair…so unjust.
“Who’s there?” a voice asked from inside.
I didn’t answer. Something was blocked again inside my head, making me feeling confused.
I heard some noise from inside, and suddenly I felt two hands taking me for the shoulders and bringing me away.
“What the hell are you doing?”
It was Sabrina again, she found me there.
“You have to pull yourself together at once, Fedora. I know how you feel but there is a thing you should do”
I felt annoyed. She was my best friend and I knew, or at least a part of me somewhere knew that she wanted to help but the rest of my soul was hurt to death and I decided to keep walking without talking.
Without even knowing what I was doing I reached the theatre ruins again and I sat on the top step.
Sabrina stared at me, I felt her eyes on my shoulders but I didn’t turn.
“Very well” she said.
I heard her footsteps growing fainter. She was going away. I felt sorry and I didn’t care at the same time. I tried to relax. I inhaled a big breathe of chilly morning air and I put my face on my knees and I tried to think.
After what I thought very long I smelled coffee. I slightly turned my head and I opened my eyes. There was a cup beside me and attached to the cup a hand.
“Ok, let’s try again” Sabrina said.
She brought me breakfast. I ate everything mechanically and then I fell sideways on her shoulder.
She hugged me and said “I know that it is hard but we have to do something first thing today”
“Such as going to the funeral. It will be in Lucca”
“How do you know that?”
I knew that it must have been hard for her trying to get information. They knew each other because they knew me. They talked maybe once but never met. I was aware that she was doing for me, but most of all because among us all, for some reason a big and strong bound was grown.
“It was a good piece of work, but eventually someone answered” she said. She smiled tentatively and then changed the subject.
“Look over there, it’s down!”
It was a beautiful sight. The gold and pink sky with sporadic clouds was falling on the hills of Tuscany afar and the light was bathing little by little the area, touching with her warmth first the street in front of us where the first cars were running around the walls and then the ruins and then the thermal area.
I could swear that the round portion wasn’t covered by grass anymore.
“What?” I sighed.
I rushed on my feet and I ran on the ruin, down the small slope until breathless I reached the orchestra portion, and then the foyer area and then the thermal bath area.
I heard after me Sabrina’s steps. She stopped abruptly after me just before hitting my back.
“What the hell is wrong with you? Why did you run here?” she asked
“I thought I saw something weird” I said.
I was standing exactly on what was supposed to be the hole I saw from above the steps but my feet were touching the ground and tender grass was moving blown by the gentle morning breeze.
“No, you’re behaving just too weirdly!” Sabrina said.
She took my hand and then pulled me away, back on the slope and then back to the small apartment.
I remained standing at the entrance after she closed the door and I saw her sitting on the sofa.
“Lucca is not far from here” she explained “We can have a few hours of sleep and then we’ll go, OK?”
I nodded in agreement but I didn’t move from there, I went to the stereo and then I plugged in the headphones and I turned on the CD I was listening the night before. I wanted to listen to their music once again.
The drum sound was so loud; it filled my heart with sadness and melancholy.
“Have you slept at all?” Sabrina said, after pulling off my head the headphones.
“I don’t think so” I said like the thing wasn’t concerning me at all.
“Ok, you go and have a shower, I’ve already had mine. As soon as you’re ready we can go.”
I nodded again and automatically I reached the bathroom and I showered like a very obedient child.
The water was wetting my shoulder, but I couldn’t feel the temperature. The only sensation I had was the unusual heaviness of the drops. I put my forehead on the folded forearms to touch the wall and I wept again. I felt like an old relic of a ghost ship lingering near the bay where the old strong brigantine once shipwrecked.
Not really conscious of what I was doing or how I did it at all I managed to get into the car and Sabrina drove me. She got the motorway in Pisa and then she drove till we reached Lucca.
I’ve always liked Lucca, it’s full of memories, I remember I thought and then the reason why we were there was clear once again and my heart sank again a notch.
The funeral was supposed to be basically a walking on the walls and then the body would be shown inside the dungeon inside the west part of the wall itself. Then he would be cremated and the urn would be put inside the wall itself.
I don’t know what would be about the others. I met them once and I felt very sorry for them too as I liked every member of the band very much. What I thought, and I still think is that, it was a pity that they would be divided after death, they were so close.
I’m aware that each and every one of them was part of his family but still I learned to love them as they were one so it was weird for me. However, only Damiano was the one I’ve always considered my real brother.
I was just curious to know why such a young person decided about his funeral in every detail. Why? He never told me that.
Concentrating on this I realized that he never told me much and often I felt bad as I wasn’t trustworthy enough. I never knew why he kept me away from the darkest and saddest parts of his soul. I’ll never know this I suppose.
What I can say, right now, after months are passed, is that, in these kind of situations, the easiest thing to think about are the worst episode of your relationship with the deceased. The reason still eludes me. I contented telling me that it’s maybe self-defence, something that your mind does to avoid the collapse. Still believe me or not, I have no clue. I’m not here to give solutions; I’m just here to tell you the events.
I looked around me. As it’s normal to aspect Lucca during the summer is full of people. Mainly tourists, from all over the world.
It’s only when you pass through the small archway to climb up the wall that you enter the normal life of the city. If you look around, all you can see are just ruins of medieval defensive walls and trees. In my case, being summer, the foliage was so green that it was a pleasure to be covered by their shadow. Nonetheless in my head it was like I could see them in autumn, with those warm colours, when the leaves are golden and orange shades and are falling down lifeless. I could almost feel the cracking of the dead leaves under my feet.
Looking down the wall instead all around there’s just a vast stretch of grass with a small stream and what is the remain of a moth.
I thought that my pain was well protected.
Before all this would happen, before even I was able to think that something like that would be possible, I already decided to work on myself, on my fears, on my weaknesses. One of this had always been the fear of death which had always lingered in my thoughts like a sick bunch of cells rioting in the brain of such a young person.
Part of the fear would be the discover of the existence of the death itself, which inevitably comes in the form of a corpse.
As unfortunately this might happen several times in your lifetime, you should be prepared.
But I’d always been too young or better too coward to face it.
This time I knew it was different and I told myself I would regret for the rest of my life if I didn’t go in there.
I suppose that my greatest fear was not be able to watch a body of someone I loved very much lying lifeless in a coffin.
I was petrified. I remained on the threshold for a while watching the coffin. I could just see the point of his nose from there.
I was trapped in a fight inside my head: part of my brain would complete the figure drawing the rest of the traits I knew too well, the other side of it would tell me I would see someone else once closer.
Sabrina pushed my back to make me move but my legs were glued on that spot with fear.
She tried once more and then decided to go on alone. I don’t know exactly how long I remained there for, I was barely aware of the people passing, by brushing my clothes and lightly elbowing me on the way.
Eventually the battle inside my head was won and the strength of the dread regret made my legs move and I went over.
It was him lying in there. He like I’ve always known him. Like he was laughing at us all.
My eyes filled of tears. I felt the huge necessity of being sick. I couldn’t move again.
The only thing I could think was “Now he’s going to rise again. He’s going to wake up and tell us all it was a joke”
The fear that it would happen was mounting and becoming stronger and stronger every minute I was in there.
Then I fixed my eyes on his chest and it wasn’t moving. Not anymore.
It’s incredible how silly you can become in these kinds of situations.
I remember that my first thought was to call Damiano to tell him I was feeling sad. I was feeling desperate.
But then my eyes fixed the figure lying in front of me.
His long brown hair, his pointed chin and his cheeky smile. He was smiling at us all.
I felt a bit of rage for a split second and then the urge to laugh.
I felt guilty for that and I cried again.
The image of his favourite drumsticks clutched by his motionless hands was blurred. So it was his dear face.
I wanted so much to talk to him right now and to feel him hugging me.
Some of the people present there recognized me and tried, I’m sure, to console me as they knew how much we were close.
“It’s the fate” they said.
“It’s the life” they said.
“It’s the God’s will” they said.
Oh well this God of them must have a nasty and creepy sense of humour I thought.
But maybe the most annoying kind of comment was “The positive side of it was that it was quick and it didn’t suffer” or “The good side of the event was that he spent the last months at home with his parents”
What? I just wonder what the hell is wrong with the head of some people. The good side of it? The positive side of it?
Oh please…please…don’t give such a pitiful show of yourselves. Please! There is nothing positive in death. There is nothing good when someone whom you love dies. Never.
Regardless the age it’s painful and there is nothing good or positive in that.
And then that awful moment came. The walk around the walls.
I’ve always loved that ancient bastion.
How many walks we did chatting about everything…and now it won’t be possible anymore. But I couldn’t accept it.
I spent the rest of the funeral walking automatically supported by Sabrina.
I wasn’t sure even what I was doing or how my body moved at all.
I felt confused and lost.
It was time to go back home.
Sabrina offered to bring me back instead to make me get the train by myself.
I saw the beautiful Tuscany countryside sweeping by like in a dream and finally my walls. The other walls.
“Now I severely forbid you to do anything stupid or based on the rush of the feelings” Sabrina said pointing her index to my nose. I felt four years old “The only things you’re allowed to do are eating tons of ice-cream and at need a whole pizza!”
I nodded trying a weak smile and I got out of the care.
After closing the door I turned back and I put my head inside the window again
“Thanks for everything”
“Don’t mention it!” she said and then turning the engine on she added “You know I’m going to check on you, don’t you?”
“I love you” I just told her and then I pulled back my hands from the car door.
She blew me a kiss and then went away.
The day after the funeral, and the one after that, and the one again after, you think that you can start to realize what happened. You might think that you’ll figure out what happened.
But to be honest with you, if it ever happens either I’m too stupid to even catch the moment or it hasn’t happened yet…and a lot of time passed by.
I tried to find an explanation but I’ve always ended up with the same solution. It might be the chock of something happened suddenly or the option of being stupid is still available and you can use it and blame me.
Do you know what? For once in my life I don’t care.
I’ve always loved ancient cultures and I can freely admit that my interest in history, art, architecture and any form of art ends with the last years of 1800.
However, the more a piece of art is ancient the better.
So you can imagine how inspiring I would find a medieval town with such old roots aging back at the Etruscans. Such a communion of cultures is Volterra.
That’s probably the reason why I went back there in first place.
But in those days, after the accident happened, the only thing I would think about was Damiano. If only would be possible to talk with him once more. That’s what I kept thinking every single minute of the day.
No, you don’t worry I didn’t attempt a séance.
I, in fact, did much worse.
How do they say? Don’t try this at home.
Desperation can make you do silly things. Looking back on what I’ve done I can’t say I’m proud, but going back it’s highly probable I would do it again.
I remember that I spent a lot of time to wonder into park Fiumi.
Now the little prison cells behind the walls looked almost inviting. Why? I have no idea, but I remember that I felt very strong the need of being isolated when I was with people and then in need of company when I was alone.
Prison seemed the best option and the best place to be.
In the desperate attempt to feel better I tried to concentrate on what made me feel more relaxed and more at ease. And what else than a visit to the Etruscan museum could make the trick.
I visited it when I was much younger but I couldn’t remember what I saw. You remember what it means going on a trip with school. You don’t really concentrate on what they’re showing you, simply because it isn’t cool enough.
The love for the past was so strong even then, but not desiring to concentrate enough made me forgot that strong sensation of attraction.
Now instead, all those artefacts, the love for the death, the cure that Etruscan put for their beloved deceased, shook me deeply.
Now I could understand it better, and my brain started to move.
I’ve always had an amount of fantasy that let me see what others might find impossible to see or to see what doesn’t exist but that does a good story.
Likewise this time I remember that watching the funerary urns I thought: what if I could go back in those years and talk to one of their gods and then bring Damiano back. Like the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, but with a happy ending.
Ok, it was silly of me and to be honest with you even today, reading what I’m writing, I believe what I was thinking both ridiculous and impossible.
But I so desperately needed to see him again. So desperately.
Numerous are the times, even now, when I think to call him or to write an email. And I start to do that, but then I realize that it doesn’t make any sense at all.
Although even then I thought I was stupid in thinking something like that, I contented fidgeting with the idea.
At least at the very beginning.
If only I could find a way. Could be possible? Does a thing like that even exist?
Although I kept calling myself silly there questions become more and more insistent and pushed me to go forward.
It was like when you’re young and you play repeating spells you saw in cartoons: you know nothing can happen but a tiny part of you hopes you’re wrong.
I started to go to the library and spend days inside, to find more information about the Etruscans and their rites and civilization.
There must be something, there simply must be. That’s what I hoped for while flipping through the pages. I even stopped thinking I was silly in what I hoped and, on the other hand neither Sabrina nor someone else thought I was doing something wrong, I mean they knew I was devastated. They just thought that I was trying to ease the paying getting a few information for my next story.
And at the very beginning it was fine, I let them think so.
After a while I tried to tell Sabrina what I was really up to and she just chuckled at me and said “Yes, ok of course. When you find the solution please tell me, so I can pass the message from my mum to gran!”
But when I stopped talking and ignored her calls with an excuse or the other she decided to talk to me in another way
“Fedora really, I love you and I don’t want you to obsess yourself with something scarcely possible or real” she said trying to be reasonable.
“Sabrina I appreciate what you’re trying to do but I feel this is the right way of behaving. I think I’m sure I can do something”
“Ok, let’s do something. I’m going to see you next week, I’ve asked a few days. But please, please don’t do anything silly before that. OK?”
“I suppose! After all I’m looking for something not even possible or real!” I repeated like a five years old.
“No, I’m serious, Fedora, if this is making you feel better you keep going. But please just stick to the theory and don’t do anything stupid”
You might thing she was exaggerating in telling me this, but you have to know that Sabrina always believed in something supernatural. Something that actually I’ve always mocked her for, by the way.
She was just worried I might find for real something she could be afraid of. Something that could prove her right.
I’ve always mocked her all right, but I was hoping for such luck.
The library books didn’t tell much, more or less they agreed on the very same things: Etruscan were obsessed with death rituals, they took much care of their deceased and they saw the tombs like a place where a soul or a dead would literary could live for ever.
But for a strange feeling I had I kept reading and I began to convince myself that something more could be possible. I wanted to find more.
I turned to another endless source of information, the internet. I hoped that someone would be so stupid or kind, still have to decide which one, to put something more specific on the web.
I found a row of new computers on the far end of the huge library room. I began to scroll up and down the virtual pages instead of flipping the paper ones.
What for, I said to myself, this isn’t going to bring him back.
However for some reason I wasn’t really sure about that.
And I thought that starting to get more information about their deities could be a good start.
After a couple of weeks I was in the library I started to be bothered by the annoying feeling of being watched. I wasn’t sure that it depended on me feeling guilty of doing something I wasn’t supposed to do or because there was someone really watching me, but every time I turned my head to scan the room behind me I couldn’t see anybody staring at me.
There were usually a couple of university students, writing so hysterically to be for sure under exam. There was an old man reading a book. There was an old lady with a guy on his twenties, maybe giving him private lessons and there was the library lady putting back the books on the shelves.
After a few minutes break I would go back to my researching job.
It was amazing and scaring at the same time how many death or underworld gods and demons or supernatural being Etruscan possessed.
I started to spend hours, and days into the library. Sabrina was more and more worried. And my dad too began to ask what the hell I was up too.
However he was the last of my problems. I just needed to tell him it was project for my writing stuff and he decided not to enter into the details and I was happy with that.