Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ten - Romantic Revelations

By this time they had reached the top of the hill and were high above the river valley. Through a clearing in the trees they could see it all, from the downriver bend beyond which they knew was the city of Pittsburgh, to the nearest features, including the boarding house, to the upriver sweep of the lowland gardens and the next large hill beyond which was Acmetonia and Cheswick.
Directly across the river sat Oakmont, and Marie could see the ferry landing there, as well as the main street, divided down the center by the railroad tracks.

“Imagine, living just down there and missing what was right over my head. I had no idea the view was so fine from up here,” Maria said. There was a slight breeze, which caught the scarf and made it flutter.

“When did you have any time to explore, with all that your family expects of you?” Sam answered.

“True,” Maria said. “But I am obligated to them. They paid for me to come to America.”

“Yes, I know,” Sam answered. “And you have repaid them already, by the work you are doing for them. They could not have found anyone to work all those long hours for room and board and nothing more.”

“I see you are going to be my champion in this matter,” Maria said thoughtfully.

“Do you mind it?” Sam asked. His eyes were gazing deep into hers.

“Not at all, if I am honest with myself,” Maria answered. “I have been so caught up in doing what is expected of me that I have not really taken time to think about whether things are as they should be, or not. I just do the work and sleep, and occasionally get some time away. But not much.”

“No, not much at all, as far as I can tell,” Sam spread his jacket on the ground and invited Maria to sit down, with a nod. She did so and he sat beside her, then leaned back and looked up at the sky. It was a brilliant blue. Not a cloud anywhere. Maria followed his gaze. They were quiet and still for a long time. They could hear the trees in the wind, mingled with the echoed sounds of people from far below, and the songs of birds.

“I wonder…” he said.

“What do you wonder?” Maria asked.

“Whether Alphonse can see us sitting here from where he is, now,” Sam said.

“It is too painful to think about,” Maria said.

Sam sighed deeply and then said, “Not for me. For me the pain is over. Alphonse wanted to go home. Somehow I feel as if he has gone home. No, not to the home in Italy where he was born and that he longed for so much. That is true. But to another home, and maybe a better home, if we are to believe what we have been taught.”

They sat there a while longer, and then Sam began humming an old song, one that Maria remembered from home. Then he began singing it—“Avevo una Tortorella”—a sad, tender song.

I had a turtledove that I was tending,
With other turtledoves, this one would stay,
I did not clip its wings, sad was the ending,
I thought that it would never fly away.
Now, it is gone, today.

Sam’s voice was deep and tender, warm as the sunshine and light as the breeze. The words were old, but today they were new, and all about Alphonse.

Maria found herself crying.

“Shall I stop?” Sam asked a soon as he saw the tear upon her cheek.

Maria shook her head, “No, someone has to sing for Alphonse. Who better than his dear cousin?”

“And what better company than dear Maria,” Sam replied.

He sang the song again, even more softly, as if he were whispering a secret that only the two of them shared.

Maria felt as if the sound was inside of her instead of outside. The song was filling her up and making her warm and giving her a kind of strength and hopefulness. She lay back on the ground alongside Sam, so that their shoulders were nearly touching. Sam turned his face toward her and the song was in her ear. The warmth of his breath was there. She could feel the slightest sense of his lips moving, there. And without hesitation, they took each other’s hand. Not in a clasp, but in an entwined embrace, as each finger moved to the tune of the turtledove song that Sam continued to sing.

His hand explored hers, and hers, his—every curve and indentation, each knuckle and nail.

Sam’s thumb found its way to the softest part of her palm, and pulsed there with the meter of the song—beat, beat, beat. It was the rhythm of the music and it was the rhythm of her heart and she somehow sensed that Sam’s heart was beating at the same pace as her own.

Maria was so lightheaded now, she would have collapsed had she not already been upon the ground.

“Listen!” Sam whispered into her ear. Nearby, a mourning dove had begun to sing. Its song was not unlike the one Sam had been singing.

“He is singing for Alphonse, too,” said Maria in hushed tones.

“No, my Maria,” Sam answered, “That is Alphonse’s messenger. Now that Alphonse has flown away, he has sent the dove back to sing for us. He is sending us his message.”

“Yes. The good Lord always sends doves. Remember the one that told Noah the flood was over. What is it this dove is saying? What is he saying, Sam?”

“’Dear ones, all is well’” Sam suggested. “Alphonse is free and happy. His last days were sad and his farewell was tragic but now, now he is free. ‘Dear ones, all is well.’”

“Yes,” Maria replied in a hushed voice that was almost not there, “I can hear it.”

“Maria, I love you,” Sam whispered. Maria turned her face toward Sam. Their fingers were still entwined.

The reader is invited to check this blog often to be able to read the next chapters as they are posted.

No comments:

Post a Comment