Sunday Scribbings: "Fellow Traveler"

Her tears made twin tiny streams past unpainted lips; little waterfalls fell from her chin and collected in pools on the swell of her half-exposed breasts.
Propped up on pillows and covered in a down comforter, she was naked, save for a pair of teal lace tanga panties. They were a new purchase, something with which to surprise him on her arrival, but now had been washed out in the bathroom sink for the third evening, scrubbed by hand with her expensive coconut-scented body soap.
Her chest shuddered again in mid-sob, one hand clutched the comforter to her chest, the other a wad of toilet paper to wipe her raw, ruddy nose.
“Honey, it’s Italy,” he said. “No one cares.”
“No one cares?” she cried. “All my cute clothes were in those bags.”
She’d wandered with him the first day down to Acqui Terme’s town square, where he’d introduced her to real cappuccino and simple brioche filled with creamy, chocolaty Nutella.
The next, she’d refused of leave the villa, even though the German owners had given her a oversized black T-Shirt to wear, a second option from the teal sweater she’d matched to the bra and panty set she’d purchased the day before the flight. The one that brought them together in Piedmonte, where they’d planned a rendezvous after his business trip ended in Torino.
He wasn’t one to stay immobile.
He’d brought her cheeses and cured meats, paper-thin pancetta and prosciutto, and cured olives and crusty bread. Rich, spicy bottles of Barolo wine.
He’d made repeated calls to Air France to inquire about her luggage.
The bags that had made it to the Torino airport. Their current whereabouts something of a concern; the courier was missing.
“I’d kill for you, you know that?” he said and he tossed the mobile onto the coffee table, where it spun like a top. “If I could find them, I’d kill them.”
He was a skilled world traveler who had lived for a time in Asia and Europe. This was her second time outside the continental United States, the first being a carefree week with him in Mexico, where they’re backpacked the Yucatan peninsula . She had been out of her comfort zone then, but he’d shown her the ability to travel with just the clothing that fit in the Arc’teryx backpack he’d purchased just for her - and their Mexican adventure.
Fellow travelers who had discovered that they truly enjoyed spending time together – all their time – traveling.
The missing bags seemed to threaten that notion.
“You don’t understand,” she said as the tears started over again. “I bought things, special things, that I wanted to surprise you. Cute things. I was looking forward to it.”
“I understand, but it’s Italy. We’re in Italy,” he said. “You can’t stay covered up in bed for two weeks. This is the land of fashion, so many houses of fashion. Milan is 105 kilometers away and we’ve got a rental car.
“C’mon, I’ll buy you a whole new outfit.”
It was a concession to get her up and out of villa’s queen-sized bed.
Truth was, he was bored. But would never tell her that.
“What if we try that cute shop near the cafĂ©?” she said. “I guess I could get by with a few new things.”
Movement was progress.
“Let me bring the car around.”
Euro-techno-pop blared through the speakers as a pair of 20-something clerks with limited English skills gathered jeans and tops they thought would look great on her skinny, 5-foot, 9-inch, 42-year-old frame. Especially since they sensed that money wouldn’t be an impediment.
“Can you come here?” she asked from behind the chocolate-colored curtain of the dressing cubicle.
“Those are a little low-cut, huh?” he said.
“You think? Christ.”
“Well, I don’t think I can see your pubic hair. Although, maybe.”
The ice of her stare drove him to seek the clerks.
“Scusi,” he said. “Aiutare, grazie.”
The clerks dove on her like hornets.
“I’ve had babies,” she said, rocking her arms like they were filled with the weight of an infant.
The clerks looked at one another, confused.
“Babies,” she repeated.
“Ahhhh, neonato. Si! Si!”
And both clerks rushed through the racks and returned excitedly to the dressing room, chattering in Italian with cartoonish points and gestures.
With a pair of black elastic-topped sweat pants, with two white stripes up the legs.
“They think I’m pregnant, don’t they?”
“Well, that’d be a helluva story huh? Getting pregnant on vacation? In Italy, no less?
“Sort of like a virgin birth, praise Jesus.”
Tears filed her eyes, but these were hot streaks borne of humor.
“You can just tell your parents the vasectomy didn’t take.”


Chris said...

Very well written and even more enjoyable, thanks for the read.

tumblewords said...

Cute story - believable characters and more than one giggle! Nice!

PianoGirl said...

To say that the characters are believable is sort of an understatement for this story. Great storytelling, T.

Queen Of The Valkyries said...

Ooops.... I didn't realize my daughter was logged in - yes, even elementary school kids have email accounts these days. That was MY comment about the understatement. As you would probably have figured out. I just wanted to say that I loved the way you decided to tell that story.

keith hillman said...

You had me hooked by the second sentence! Great story - loved it.