Another Saturday at Luigi’s

Contributor: John Laneri

- -
Luigi’s is a small, romantic restaurant, featuring candlelight and good food. I live only a few blocks away in North Beach. And tonight, I’m meeting Maria.

While waiting, I order a bottle of wine, and soon, I see her step inside the door. She hurries to me. We embrace warmly, her body pressing mine. It's her way of saying that she's already feeling romantic.

Once seated, we catch up on the previous weeks, glad to be together. I tell her about my work collecting money for the family. She talks about her job at the bank. And soon, she begins to relate happy stories about her nieces and nephews, their schools and activities.

But then for no reason, I see her start fidgeting like a schoolgirl, her fingers rearranging the silverware – put the fork here, move the knife there. So, I begin to think that maybe she's not so interested, maybe she's troubled.

“Is everything okay?” I ask, concerned.

“I’m fine… just a number of confusing thoughts.”

"Like what?"

'Nothing important," she says, as her fingers return to the silverware.

Her words surprise me. She phoned only last night and said she wanted to see me – that she needed more romance. Now, I'm confused.

Nonetheless, Maria is a charming woman. Her hair is dark and her eyes bright. The rest of her is natural – soft face, modest stature, a good all round look.

She’s fourth-generation like me. And like most Italians, our families go back – a few marriages here, lots of cousins there. We didn’t really get to know each other until we discovered sex in the sixth grade.

I pour her some wine. “Drink more vino. It helps to mellow the mood."

She takes another sip and smiles, as her eyes regain their sparkle.

For the next hour, we make light chitchat while we work our way through the antipasto followed by an artichoke appetizer. Once we get to the pasta, she starts to talk about our times together – the weekends in the mountains, our days on the beach even my cousin’s wedding when we drank too much champagne and fell asleep in the bushes behind the church, our bodies curled into one.

Looking away, I watch the candlelight cast flickering shadows across our table. It’s supposed to be romantic, but for some reason, my thoughts keep turning to Maria.

I truly love her, and I don’t ever want to ever lose her. But, I also do not want to be married while my youth is still alive.

When we start on the veal, she says, "Being with you makes me so happy."

"And, I'm happy when I'm with you," I reply honestly. "I always am."

When we finish eating, I pour her more wine. She takes another sip then sighs deeply and slips off a shoe. We continue to bask while we finish the wine, our eyes directed to one another, her foot resting on my leg.

Soon, I see that look on her face – the one that tells me she’s beginning to have romantic thoughts.

“What are you thinking?” I ask quietly, hoping to move her along.

She sips the wine again, then says. "We rarely see each other. It's been weeks. Don’t you want to be with me everyday so we can share our lives together? I would like to start a family.”

“But, I’m too young to be married!" I say much too loudly. "We should wait another year... give our friendship more time to mature!”

Suddenly, her eyes flare, and before I can open my mouth, she gives my leg a shove and reaches for her purse. "We are already in our thirties. I'll be old and gray by the time you're ready for me."

Under the table, I feel her foot searching for the shoe. “It’s getting late," she says, "Will you walk me to the door, so I can catch a taxi?”

“But, tomorrow is a Sunday. We can still go to my apartment like we always do. Have good fun. Then in the morning, we can read the newspaper in bed and eat biscotti with strong coffee. Have more fun. I’ll even make your favorite cappuccino.”

“You have your own life," she says. "I can't take away your freedom unless you truly want me forever.”

Reluctantly, my eyes return to the candle. Deep inside, I know what she says is true. I've known it for years.

"We’ve waited far too long." she continues softly. "The romance has been wonderful, but it's time for us to make a serious commitment to each other or go our separate ways."

Ashamed of myself, I look into her eyes, knowing that I have wasted our years together. Then gently, I tell her of my love, my words spoken with the truth and sincerity that only comes from the heart.

“I have always loved you too,” she whispers quietly.

I extend my hand.

She smiles and accepts it. I kiss her finger tips. And then, we get up from the table and walk to the door, our eyes searching one another, wondering if our love is real or just the romance inspired by another Saturday at Luigi's.

- - -
John's writing focuses on short stories and flash. Publications to his credit have appeared in several professional journals as well as a number of internet sites and short story periodicals.
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

Help keep Linguistic Erosion alive! Visit our sponsors! :)- - -