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    Angelina sat on the bench overlooking the bay and town of Soldari. She had lived in this town all her life. She had jostled along with most of its inhabitants through childhood to adulthood. She had gone to school here, and fallen in love with Antonio.

Antonio had lived nearby, in one of the narrow cobbled alley-ways that ran down the steep hills of the town towards the sea. They had walked to school together, played games together, and were not at all shy of each other. Angelina looked up to him, felt good when he praised her, and loved when he squeezed her cheek in an affectionate way. From the age of about ten she became more aware of how fond she felt about him. She began to try and make him notice her. She tried to excel at sports and be knowledgeable about football; she would buy presents of sweets and toys, and began to make an effort with her appearance. Antonio seemed to praise her more, give her admiring looks, and was genuinely grateful for the gifts. Angelina wanted to spend more time with him, but knew not to interfere too much when he was ‘with the boys’. Antonio seemed to respect her for this.

But then one day, all that had changed. Lucia Fabiloni is what happened. Lucia and her family had arrived from Milan. She was girly and sweet, and beautifully dressed. Antonio and his friends seemed to be enchanted by her. All she had to do was flutter her eyelids and the boys were like putty in her hands. Rumours soon spread around the school that Antonio and Lucia had gone to the cinema, and had been kissing under their coats.  Antonio became very dismissive of Angelina, and didn’t seem to really care if she scored a goal or ran faster, or even noticed if she smiled at him.

Angelina decided to stop being a tom-boy, and began to hang out with the other girls. She began to take an interest in fashion, make-up, pop music and other boys. She saw Antonio around, but they only waved or exchanged a quick hello. When she was about thirteen she was introduced to Giuseppe at a youth dance. He was the brother of one of her girlfriends and a couple of years older than her. He was quiet and considerate, and attentive to her. They went out and became known as a couple. But he didn’t make her heart skip a jump when she saw him, like Antonio did. Sometime she and Giuseppe bumped into Antonio and Lucia in town, and Angelina would wonder did Antonio ever think about her secretly. She could feel herself blushing any time they met, and she hoped that Giuseppe didn’t notice.

Angelina and Giuseppe’s relationship struggled along for two years. It was comfortable and secure, but definitely not exciting. But then Giuseppe’s father died and he had to leave school to help run the family business. He became so busy, and their lives so different, that their relationship just dwindled away. Eventually they just stopped seeing each other.

One day Angelina was in the local supermarket when she met a girl from school who told her that Lucia had been signed up by a top modelling agency, and was spending more and more time in Milan. The agency had even provided a private tutor so that Lucia could keep up with her schoolwork. Angelina found it hard to contain the excitement at this news. On the surface she acted cool, but her stomach was doing cart-wheels inside. She had to see Antonio, but on what pretext? She started planning madly in her head, as she made her way home. A plan began to formulate. She would have a party for her sixteenth and invite Antonio. She would make sure it was when Lucia was in Milan. She felt a little guilty, but pushed that to the back of her mind.

The party was planned to the last detail. Angelina’s mother couldn’t work out why she was making such a fuss. Angelina told each guest not to tell anybody else, as she was having a select number of people. Thus she made sure Lucia didn’t hear about it, and she made sure Lucia was gone to Milan, before she invited Antonio. Antonio thanked her for the invite, and reassured her that he would be there. Angelina couldn’t wait for the day of the party to arrive.

Her 16th birthday arrived and her family spoilt her; she had breakfast in bed, and got the new dress and accessories she had wanted. The afternoon was spent preparing for the party; cooking the food, setting the tables and putting up balloons. Then she prepared herself for Antonio. She had a luxurious scented bubble bath, and washed and conditioned her hair. Her Aunt Elena who was a hairdresser rolled her liquorice coloured hair into a loose bun, and let soft wavy tendrils of hair frame the sides of her face. Then Angelina carefully applied her make-up, making sure she brought out the colour of her eyes, and emphasised the shape of her lips. She put on her new dress and her silver pendant holding a sky-blue stone reflecting the colour of her eyes and dress, and gazed at herself in the mirror.  She whispered Antonio’s name, and puckered her red lips in the shape of a kiss, smiled to herself and went down to greet her guests.

A few people had arrived already, and cheered when they saw Angelina. A few minutes later Antonio was at the door. Angelina ran to greet him. She hugged him tightly and left a lingering kiss on his lips. He seemed slightly bemused by this gesture. He handed her a card and a gift. She took him by the hand and led him into the party. She didn’t see let him out of her sight all night. She brought him food; she brought him drink, and asked him to dance.

Towards the end of the night, Antonio had had a few drinks and seemed to be enjoying himself. Angelina put on a slow romantic song, dimmed the lights and pulled Antonio out to dance. She held her body tight against his, whispered romantic things into his ear, and reached up to kiss him. At first he responded hesitantly, and then hungrily.

Suddenly the lights went on, the spell was broken and a loud hiss was heard. Angelina and Antonio turned as one to the sound. Lucia was standing there, glaring in all her beauty. Antonio ran toward her with a red face, and was greeted with the thwack of Lucia’s right hand. Then Lucia burst into tears and ran off, with Antonio in pursuit. Angelina fled to her bedroom in shame, and got her mother to send the guests home.

The next day Angelina couldn’t bear to see anyone, so had come to this lone bench overlooking the town. She had been sitting there for about an hour, when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

“It’s okay Angelina. Lucia has gone back to Milan and doesn’t want to see me anymore. But you know what, I don’t mind. Something magical happened between us last night, and I must have been blind not to have noticed what beautiful woman you’ve grown into. Can we give it a go?” Antonio said earnestly.

Angelina looked up in a daze, and nodded tearfully.

Posted November 2, 2013 by eileenmoynihan in Uncategorized

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