The First Breath
Author Natalia Zagrebina-Wirtz
translated by Igor Step
Two women and a girl checked in at 4 pm in a fashionable hotel in Nice called “Sea Meeting”, the same one located on the old street Promenade des Anglais, built in 1856 by the French architect François Aune. The girl’s name was Letizia. She turned fifteen last Friday and felt like she was quite an adult. She was slight of figure, rather tall, with short, dark curly hair and plush lips. The women accompanying were her mother, Mariel, an always engaged in some tasks, fussy, forty-two-year-old woman. It seemed that she never did care about her appearance – she usually wore her hair in an inexpressive bun and dressed in long sweatshirts going back up to 10 years. The husband left Mariel for many years, and now she had to cope with all matters alone. The second woman was Ariadne, the aunt of Letizia. In contrast, she was a brightly bleached blond being in the habit of wearing coral lipstick on her lips and while looking at the same time in a small mirror. As has been said, these three have successfully checked in at the hotel. In a separate room assigned to her, Letizia unpacked the suitcase had been packed, of course, by her mother. Letizia, wearing a mean face, put aside the half-child dresses that Mariel liked to buy for her. Among them was even a blue one with green elephants and a high waist. Looking again at the dresses, Letizia put on a white travel T-shirt, tying its hem in a knot at the belly. She donned skinny blue jeans. Entering the room, Mariel, who was carrying something in her hand, froze and stared at her daughter:
“Will you go to dinner like this?” She asked in surprise.
“Yes, I almost like it better than all these outfits!” Letizia declared, glancing contemptuously at the dresses put aside. She went to the mirror and began to fasten hair with bobby pins. Mariel decided not to object, since daughter seemed very annoyed.
“What is this?” Letizia asked, pointing her finger at the mother’s hand.
“It’s for you, your doll…” Mariel said confusedly and uncertainly, “It stood on the dresser. I thought that you would be more comfortable traveling with it...”
Having finished her speech, she handed the doll to Letizia and left the room immediately.
“Girls, we have fifteen minutes until we are leaving!” sounded loudly and cheerfully the voice of the aunt. Letizia gripped a rag doll in her hand and pushed it forcefully into the corner of the sofa.
Out on the street, these three plunged into the blue haze of the languid and sultry evening of Nice. They walked along a long promenade lined with green islands of palms and bushes with large scarlet flowers on the tops. They rejoiced at lull of sea and singing of the cicada. The restaurant had a sophisticated setting that would satisfy the taste of any discerning visitor. They’ve set up on a beautiful bright terrace overlooked the sea slowly plunging into a blue flickering haze. Letizia looked around with vacant eyes, stringing lettuce on a fork. She did not listen at all to the lively conversation of her aunt and mother, who drank bright red wine from tall glasses. Suddenly, her attention was attracted by a young guy who had just rushed into the terrace. He was a tall, handsome man in a motorcycle suit, his hand pressed a shiny multi-colored helmet to his torso - Letizia’s always liked the kind of guy. It looked like he was looking for someone. He looked around and approached the waiter, but it looks like he received a negative answer to his questions. Then he, turning briskly, went to the exit, looking at Letizia and flashing a big smile at her. It must have been like an electric shock in her body. She leaned towards the stranger with her entire body, her breath stopped for a second. The motorcyclist stopped while with a smile looking right in her eyes. He was raven-haired and had a very boyish turned-up nose. He wore his hand friendly and signed to her to outside. But Letizia made a sign of negation while her eyes pointing at her aunt and mother sitting next to her. When he left, the girl completely forgot about the salad. She has cheek propped on palm and her gaze went into the blue-violet distance outside the restaurant window. In fact, the young man did not leave at all. He stood against the glass terrace wall, expecting he would be noticed of Letizia. Seeing the guy, the girl shuddered. The motorcyclist smiled broadly at her. Scarlet with embarrassment, Letizia froze, but then suddenly, unexpectedly for herself, she silently lipped the name of the hotel. The young man showed her a sign with his fingers and, deftly throwing his helmet over his head, quickly took off.
At 9 o’clock in the evening, Laetitia, putting on a light blouse, ran down the steps of the hotel downstairs. A familiar motorcyclist was waiting for her there. He put a bright pink and gold helmet on her head and she easily and unexpectedly deftly climbed into the back seat of the motorcycle. Letitia grabbed her new acquaintance by the waist and they, abruptly moving off, rushed off into the distance along the road illuminated by lanterns. An agitated Mariel ran out and was followed by Ariadne.
“God, what’s going on?! What happened ?!” Mariel exclaimed with eyes full of despair and horror.
“It looks like Letizia just left with a young man on a motorcycle...” said aunt in surprise.
“We need to call the police! Police !!” Mariel shouted, heading swiftly towards the front desk.
“God, Mariel, be calm, maybe everything is not as scary as it seems,” said Ariadne and she told something else…
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