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Reading the next snippet, you’ll guess how much I loved Under The Tuscan Sun. What woman doesn’t fantasize at some point about giving everything up to go live a once-in-a-lifetime dream? I had to have this story! Now, I can share it… DD
From “Lost and Found” by Nanette Guadiano
In every woman’s life there comes a time when she has to make the decision to truly live or merely exist. That time, for me, came five months ago, with the passing of my thirty-sixth birthday. It was like a switch had been flipped inside me.
Suddenly, my daily routines, my career, my friends, and my lover weren’t enough. The dreams of my youth (having someone I couldn’t live without, making babies, writing my novel, and, fingers crossed, actually getting it published) were alive again like a fire in my gut: a living, breathing entity, swallowing all the oxygen around me, burning me. I told myself I didn’t really have a choice, but that wasn’t entirely true. I could have given up and accepted defeat; I could have chosen a life of mundanity, but the hamster-in-a-wheel gig was killing me. I’d been a walking corpse for far too long. So I made the decision to change things. I broke up with Alejandro, my boyfriend of five years; packed up my classroom for the last time at the end of May without signing my contract for the next school year; sold my little house for a small profit; donated everything I didn’t need or want to charities; and booked a one-way flight to Italy with the plan of maybe never coming home.
Now here I am, in a tiny town called Forete, just minutes from Verona. I’ve just arrived in a seventeenth-century Italian villa that I’ve rented for the next three months. Long enough to forget my past, long enough to dream of a future, and—I hope—long enough to finish the novel I started ten years ago. So why am I so afraid?
I open the windows, fresh air disturbing long-dormant dust motes into frenetic swirls in clumps so large they could pass for snowflakes. Birds chirp. Children play outside on bikes, their Italian words like tinkling Baroque music on a harpsichord. I take a deep breath and sigh. My armpits are wet; I’m exhausted, jet-lagged, and afraid. What have I done?
On the corner is a small grocery store. My head throbs, but there is no aspirin to be found. Grocery stores here sell only groceries. If I want aspirin or tampons, I am told I have to find a farmacia, a pharmacy. Life is slower here than back home, where superstores have taken over, selling everything from aspirin to tractors. Here, it’s different. I am both annoyed and comforted by this. I don’t have a car and the hour is too late to walk to the farmacia, which is three miles down the road, so I choose a bottle of red wine in place of aspirin. Maybe it will relax me enough to melt my headache. I grab some prosciutto, grapes, and cheese for dinner and I’m off, back to the apartamento, feeling more than just a little homesick.
Maybe dumping Alejandro was a bad idea. He had seemed genuinely heartbroken when I ended it, said he couldn’t understand why I was leaving him, why I was leaving it all. Didn’t I know he loved me? Really? If he loved me so much, he would want the same things I wanted: marriage and children. But Alejandro was content with the status quo, and I was tired of pretending that this life was enough.
I wanted things. What was so wrong with that? He had called me selfish. Ironic, considering our lovemaking had become as stale as day-old microwave popcorn. We had become a couple whose idea of kinky was me on top. And oral sex? Forget about it. Getting him to do it was like pulling teeth, and when he did I never came. I wanted passion—crazy, sexy sex. I wanted hair-pulling, mind-blowing, all-out fuck-fests. I would never have that with Alejandro. As if to clear my mental slate, I shake my head. I have to live in the moment. I’m in Italy, for god’s sake.
I step off the sidewalk and begin to cross the street toward my rental. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a little boy kicking a ball. It bounces into the street and he darts out. My heart freezes in my chest. His mama shouts for him to stop, but he is quick, a little whirlwind of energy, a dizzying mass of light and curls. I turn to reach for him, dropping my bag of wine and olive oil. That’s when I see the car speeding down the narrow street, going far too fast to stop in time. I don’t even have time to scream, let alone go after him. His mama wails to Jesus. A screeching of brakes sounds, and I brace myself for the sound of death, but it does not come.
Slowly, I open my eyes. A flurry of excitement bubbles all around me. The driver of the Maserati is out of his car, screaming in Italian, motioning with his hands like a ridiculous parody of Woody Allen. The mother runs to her child, who is in the arms of a very tall, very blond, very muscular man in running clothes. The man’s eyes meet mine. They are blue, the color of the Italian sky, il cielo azurro: blue heaven. I look down at my feet, oil and wine pooling like blood around my shoes like petulant children refusing to play together.
It’s hard to settle down after the incident with the little boy. I have eaten too much cheese, and I wish more than anything I hadn’t dropped that bottle of wine. The air is hot, but habits are hard to break, and I will not sleep with the windows open on a ground floor. I’m from the city and filled with American fears.
I spent a good couple of hours trying to write, but I am far too jetlagged, far too restless to sit still long enough to listen to the muses. I try sleeping, but I’m so damn hot, my sweaty T-shirt clings to my breasts. My mind drifts back to the handsome stranger. He was clearly not Italian. His features were almost Nordic: high cheek bones, suntanned skin, light lashes, blond hair, and the sexiest dimple on his chin. The way he held that little boy, such protection, such expertise…and he’d been so fast, like rescuing people was second nature.
I feel a tug in my womb, a longing I haven’t felt in ages. My fingers drift down to my underwear. Picturing his eyes on mine, his intense and piercing gaze, my fingers explore my cunt for the first time in a long time, slowly at first. I tease my opening with a forefinger. I’m so wet; my pulse pounds against my chest. So much desire; I had forgotten what it felt like for my body to long for completion. My fingers work quickly now, alternating between tiny frenetic movements against my clit to long strokes inside of my warmth. In and out, up and down, side to side; thinking of blue, blue eyes, I begin to forget the heat.