I just enjoyed a beautiful Christmas with granddaughter, Isa. In this excerpt from my novel, my protagonist, Megan, nears the holidays in a very different mood. She’s alone in a strange country and estranged from her husband of 20 years – Excerpt #8:

I return to my work and, ignored, Donatella strolls to the French doors and stares through the rain-streaked panes of glass.

I move the saturated brush in one fluid stroke, lifting as I taper it and flick my wrist. The tip of the vine forms a delicate curlicue. Enough.

I dip the brush into my jar of water until it’s clean, and squeeze it to a point, and then I climb down to join Donatella. We wait to see Luca and Matteo settle the ancestor into his niche, and then leave together for lunch.

The clouds depart during the meal and the afternoon turns into such a crisp, perfect day that Donatella suggests an outing. She drives us to a mountain across the valley and parks at the bottom. The cutting wind reddens our cheeks and noses long before we reach the top. Evergreen shrubs grow there on the crest … full, bushy shrubs that are taller than I am. The branches are laden with white bell-shaped pods and fruits the size of ping-pong balls. Donatella calls them corbezzole. The fruits are round and dazzlingly red, with a lumpy texture.

Donatella plucks one and takes a bite, revealing juicy, bright yellow insides. She hands one to me. The taste is sweet, yet sharp.

“Vitamin C,” she explains.

We jump up to pull down the long branches, break them off, and gather them into huge armfuls.

Back at Villa Bella, I help arrange the branches in large vases on the floor in the sitting room. I carry some back to the millhouse, fill my bucket with water, and set the corbezzole in it just inside the front door. The hanging red balls and bell-shaped silvery pods remind me that Christmas isn’t far away.

Christmas without John?

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One Response to I just enjoyed a beautiful Christmas with granddaughter, Isa. In this excerpt from my novel, my protagonist, Megan, nears the holidays in a very different mood. She’s alone in a strange country and estranged from her husband of 20 years – Excerpt #8:

  1. Mauro Salvadori says:

    Negli estratti precedenti Megan si sente oppressa da un’ignota paura. La paura ha tante sfaccettature e in questo brano pare emergere un aspetto in particolare: la solitudine. Rientrando al suo isolato mulino tenendo tra le braccia rami sempreverdi raccolti nel bosco, carichi di corbezzole, rotondeggianti frutti selvatici rossi come il fuoco, pensa al Natale ormai vicino, e nella sua mente si accende un bagliore improvviso, come un fulmine a ciel sereno. Da venti anni ha trascorso il Natale con suo marito John, ora lontano da lei. Che sapore avrà il Natale senza di lui? Forse amaro più del veleno?
    La solitudine crea il vuoto, ma il vuoto puù essere sempre colmato da tante e nuove emozioni. Cose sconosciute, forse migliori, forse peggiori…
    Megan ci fa dire “Chissà…” tutte le volte!
    Si rinnova ancora la curiosità di seguirla nel suo cammino, quasi di soppiatto, cercando di non fare rumore, per scoprire cosa l’attende dietro l’angolo.

    ENGLISH TRANSLATION:
    In the preceding extracts Megan feels overwhelmed with an unknown fear. Fear has many faces and in this selection it seems to emerge in one particular aspect: as solitude.
    Returning to her isolated mill, holding the green branches collected in the forest in her the arms, she realizes that Christmas is near and the corbezzole, those round fruits red as fire, ignite in her mind an unexpected flare, like lightning from a clear sky. For twenty years she has spent Christmas with her husband, who is now far away. What flavor will Christmas have without him? Will it perhaps be more bitter than poison? Solitude creates emptiness, but emptiness can be filled with new things and new emotions. Unknown things, maybe better, maybe worse…
    Megan makes us ask, “Who knows …?” every time! Our curiosity is renewed to follow her on her path, on tiptoe, to discover what waits beyond the corner.

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