13 Replies to “7.24.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. He’d always done as his father had told him. He’d left school when his father’d said and he’d started work in the shop. Three years now and his name would be above the door before the year was out and in time the business would be his and that was a family thing. And the money was good. ‘Everybody’s gotta eat,’ his father was fond of saying, and so they did ok.

    But there was the seed of something in Sergio that he could not quite give a name to and which was buried deep and in dark soil and so could be ignored. Except that when he was in bed with Chiara and the breathless dark was all around them and she asked him if he was good, he felt uneasy.

    Chiara, and she was everything a girl should be and she had plans for them both and already she was a part of the family and his father said she was just like Sergio’s mother and a ‘keeper’ is what he said. And Sergio thought she was, too, except something was not right. It was too soon, he thought, and too fast.

    Sergio Cassinelli had his own keys to the shop and he was there around seven every morning and cleaning the shelves and polishing the glass and cutting meat the way his father had shown him. And Alessia Masci was always his first customer, before the shop had really opened and she knocked at the glass and smiled and nodded to Sergio.

    Alessia Masci, as old as ever old is and her back bent with the years that she carried and she pushed a bicycle that she had not ridden for more than ten years and her bags of shopping hung on the handlebars. Arms and legs thin as broomsticks and hair as white as new snow and she was always smiling. And she was always his first customer. He opened the door and let Alessia Masci and her bicycle into the shop.

    ‘And how are you today, Signore Cassinelli? Is there a song in your head and dancing in your feet?’

    He laughed and he said that there was, even when there wasn’t.

    ‘Are you sure?’ she said. ‘For if there is no song and you do not want to dance, then there is something missing.’

    He nodded and fastened his apron about his middle and asked what it was he could get for her today.

    She never bought much and paid in small coin and he had to cut off all the fat before weighing and then to double wrap what she bought. And he always gave her something a little extra and some bones for her dog when she asked and all at no charge. She was his favourite customer, because somehow she came closest to understanding him.

    ‘Each day there must be a song. From the moment you get up out of your bed and Chiara lies there half in sleep and you miss her even then. And in the walk to work and your feet should be dancing with every step. And in the sound of the shutters thrown up and the movement of your hands holding the knife. In everything there must be music. If not, then a song must be found, and if it can’t be found then it is not good to be still doing what you are doing.’

    He handed her the two pork scallopini and the bones and several slices of Catechino, and she counted out the coins from her purse, laying them with small musical clicks onto the counter until he nodded and it was enough.

    ‘I do not hear a song in you, Signore Cassinelli,’ she said. ‘Not ever.’

    He made a show of singing then, and dancing, but it was all just a show.

    Alessia Masci shook her head and waved a finger in the air as she might were he a child up to no good. Then she wheeled her bicycle around and left the shop without another word. And Sergio watched her go, wondering how it was that the old could be so wise.

  2. Lindsay, this is a beautiful story. Alessia Masci’s words, “For if there is no song, and you do not want to dance, then there is something missing,” will stay with me. This is a story that rocketed right off the page and into my heart. Thank you. And, you sure do come up with some wonderful character names!

  3. Susan, what a fantastic response to the piece. I am so glad that you like it. Thank you for making my day. I hope you have a song and a dance in you.

  4. In fact, I do, Lindsay! I have played the cello since I was ten years old, and have always called it my ‘best voice’. As I read again your words about ‘something missing’, it is a perfect measure of whether a relationship is clicking, or if there is that missing element that has nothing to do with being just ok. I can almost see Alessia shaking her head and wagging her finger! Maybe include her in another prompt? She’s a keeper!

  5. Susan
    I love your ‘best voice’. And the name: ‘cellosusie’. I am so overwhelmed that Alessia Masci has made such an impression. I have planted her in my head and will maybe look for something else to say about her… in time. Thanks.

  6. Susan – I have written this for you.

    Alessia Masci knows. She cocks her head like a bird when it listens and she hears things adrift on the air and so she knows. She hears the footsteps of Sergio Cassinelli, every day she hears them and she knows there is no dancing in his feet and so she understands that there is something missing from his life. And Sergio was always such a laughing child and so she understands that he has made a turning somewhere and it is the wrong turning and she tries to make him see this.

    And she pushes her bicycle back up the hill, heavier now for the shopping that hangs on the handlebars, the meat and potatoes, the cabbage and the bread. And she thinks of Leola Bucciero and the pretty she has become these past few months and the too much at church she is to please her father, the baker. And there’s a boy called Angelo and Leola writes his name in the flour that dusts the counter and she writes his name when she thinks no one is looking, and Alessia Masci tells her that the time is now or the time is lost.

    And old Lembo who sells vegetables from a stall on the street and he is still good looking and strong and his back straight. And his third wife is expecting their second child. And Alessia Masci leans close so that only old Lembo hears and she tells him it will be a girl. And if it is, old Lembo will remember what Alessia Masci said today; and if it is a boy he will only forget.

    And half way up the hill Alessia Masci stops, for she is short of breath and her arms hurt and her back too, and still she is only half way there. And she stops for she hears music hung on clouds and the sun breaking through. And it is Susanna Velotta and the years are not so new on her as before and she rises early and drinks strong bitter coffee alone; and then as the morning stretches in front of her she sits with her cello and plays. Today it is ‘Lied Ohne Worte’ by Mendelssohn, except in the playing Alessia Masci hears words, the whole sad story that Susanna Velotta is today and sunshine of hope. Once it was Bach that she played and a man with grey in his hair and his name is Mario Tedeschi and he was in her bed then and the world was a brighter place. And so Mendelssohn’s ‘Song Without Words’ is full to bursting with words and Alessia Masci stops Bruno Amici on his way to work and she tells him to listen and she tells him to feel what is in the music and she winks and says he should follow his heart.

    Alessia Masci and they say she speaks to cats and they say that the cats do speak to her, in purr-whispers, and by such does she know all the town’s secrets. She laughs when she hears their cat-talk nonsense and she shakes her head and she sets her shopping down in the hall. Then her own cat, Leone, rubs itself against her legs and she says him buongiorno and she laughs again and pours herself a small glass of Alchermes even though it is still early.

  7. I am just tickled to find this story here for me this morning Lindsay! What a delightful surprise! And how would you know that the Song Without Words is one of my favorite pieces to play? Makes me think of my Mom who has passed on and accompanied me on the piano. I so love this character, Alessia. I kept hearing in my head the quote from The Little Prince, “It is only with the heart that one can see (or hear in the case of Alessia) rightly. What is important is invisible to the eye.” Some of your phrases just pop out like small jewels, “She hears things adrift on the air”, and “she hears music hung on clouds” – what beautiful imagery! You’ve started out my day with another song in my heart! So many thanks!

    1. I cannot tell you how much pleasure it gives me to eavesdrop on these conversations among writers and readers.Thank you all so much for your generous and thoughtful responses to the prompts and to one another. You make my day, many days over!

  8. Thank you, Patricia. Is it really eavesdropping when it is your room we are in when we are talking and we are talking loud enough to be heard and not talking in whispers? 🙂

  9. Remember when we were little kids and some of us, anyway, had an imaginary friend? I’m so enjoying the comments/responses, the easy give and take, the thoughtful listening, and seeing some now familiar names; it’s sort of like having an imaginary friend, but even better. So glad Cynthia Guenther Richardson directed me to this wonderful site. Patricia, I really enjoyed your post from Florence. So glad you are soaking in all the beauty. Keep on rufflin’!

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