Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Episode 7 - A Nice Welcome Home

I don’t know what’s the matter with me, when I close my eyes at night , all I can see is Paolo working in the fields all hot and sweaty, his muscles rippling as he swings his scythe through the long grass.

And in that special time, just before dawn, when the air is still and dreams are not far away, I remember the feel of his lips brushing against my cheek and his hand gently holding my arm.

I have got to pull myself together, there is Martin working himself into the ground so that we can live in this wonderful place and how do I repay him? By acting like a silly school girl with a massive crush on the first boy who shows her any interest.

How can I be so stupid? It was just a drink with a friend, nothing more. It isn’t as if he led me on. Paolo was the perfect gentleman. This has only been a daydream, a longing for something that couldn’t possibly happen. Why would anyone want me for heavens sake, I’m a grandmother!

I have decided to pull myself together and appreciate all that I have, not waste time dreaming about a man who would probably laugh if he knew how I was feeling about him.

The last thing I want is for Martin to feel that I don’t appreciate him. That’s why I have a made a special effort for tonight. The table is laid for supper. I have had my hair restyled and fixed my makeup. Dear god I have even bought a new dress and for the first time in a very long time I’ve driven out to the airport to meet him getting off the plane.

He is just coming out of Customs as I arrive:

‘What are you doing here, is there a problem at the villa?’

‘No darling, I just thought it would be a nice surprise for you’

‘Well it’s certainly a surprise’ Martin mumbled as we made our way out to the car. ‘I won’t be able to drive you know, I’ve had a drink on the plane’

‘Martin, I’m not asking you to drive, I just thought that you might like a lift for a change rather than having to wait in line for a taxi’ I’m really trying not to sound exasperated, I realise Martin must be tired but why can’t he at least pretend to be glad to see me.

‘I’ve had a busy week’ he snapped ‘and all I want now is to get home, have a shower and pour myself a large scotch.

‘I don’t know what I have done wrong. I just thought that you would like a lift’

‘Fliss I’m not in the mood for your nagging. I’ve been up since 6o’clock this morning, been in meetings all day and to round it off I have just been on the flight from hell.’

With that he settled into the passenger seat, folded his arms across his chest and closed his eyes. For the rest of the journey Martin is quiet, I suppose I could fool myself and into thinking that he is asleep. That would be far less painful than admitting that he hadn’t noticed how I looked and cared even less about how I felt.

After putting the car away in the garage, I follow Martin into the hall as he plonks his case down. Without looking back he walks straight to the study to collect his post and pour himself the longed for glass of whisky. ‘Don’t bother with supper for me, I had a sandwich on the plane’ he calls over his shoulder as he walks upstairs, ‘after my shower I think I’ll turn in, it’s been a long day’

I walk into the kitchen and switch off the oven. I’d spent hours preparing our supper, buying fresh ripe tomatoes from the market and collecting the rosemary from the hillside to slow bake with the lamb. I wanted to make him the beautiful meal that I had at Maria’s.

It was a meal to share with the man I had married all those years ago, to say I’ve been a fool this week but I’m over it now and I am glad that you are home, but the moment is lost now. Looking at the candles unlit on the supper table I feel so angry with him. Didn’t he miss me at all?

Standing alone in the kitchen surrounded by all the things that were supposed to make this evening special I suddenly feel that our love, once so sure and strong is shrivelling before my eyes. I feel sadder and lonelier than I did when he was away. At least then I could pretend that he wanted me.

I grab a tissue and wipe away the tears of frustration that are threatening to ruin what’s left of my mascara before pouring myself a large glass of wine and walking out onto the terrace.

The night air is still warm and the ink black sky is sparkling with a thousand stars. As I gaze up at them all I can think of is the last time I saw Paolo. His deep dark eyes were sparkling like the night sky as he held my hand to help me up from the table.

Standing alone on the terrace I close my eyes and imagine what it would be like to feel his breath on my neck and his hands cupping my cheeks as he lifts my face to wipe away my tears. And then he would kiss me with a passion and longing that would make me cry again.

Opening my eyes I look down the valley and can see the lights of the village twinkling in the moonlight. The square will be filling up now with families and the bars and restaurants busy with the sounds of people looking forward to the weekend.

So why am I standing here all alone, silently weeping to the stars.