A Flute Player's Story

By Rachel Halpin

Romance

Breakfast at Nonna's

The next morning I ran over to Maggie's and asked if I could borrow Allegra for the morning. I had waken up before Rooster's early morning cries and had thought up the idea to bring Ally to my grandmother's house for one of her home-cooked meals. I wanted Ally to meet my grandmother and thought my grandmother could use some female company that morning.

"Antonio!" my grandmother cried when she saw me, giving me a huge hug. "Oh, I've missed you, il mio bambino. You must come over more. I see you're brought a friend over. Benvenuti nella mia casa. Do come in, come in. Don't be shy. Come; tell me about your new friend. She's una vera bellezza. Better hold on to her, Antonio." She continued talking away as she led us into the kitchen and sat us down.

"That's my nonna," I whispered to Ally, putting my arm around the back of her chair and leaning closer to her. "She likes having company over. It's always an excuse for her to cook everything in sight and stuff the person like a turkey." Ally giggled and I felt my heart jump at the sound. It sounded like windchimes dancing in the wind and made me smile happily. We just sat there smiling at each other until my nonna set down two plates filled with bacon, eggs, sausage, and buttered bread.

"Gracias," Ally murmured before picking up her fork and carefully taking a bite of egg.

"Tu sei il benvenuto, mio caro." Nonna set out some glasses and poured milk into each of them before sitting down with her own plate. "Now Antonio, tell me about your fidanzata. How long have you been together?"

I choked on the milk I had been drinking. Ally looked confused as she patted me on the back. Nonna calmly handed me a napkin to wipe my mouth on. "M-m-my fidanzata?" I managed to stutter out when I stopped coughing.

"Surely you don't take me for a somaro, do you? I can see the way you look at her mio caro Antonio. I may be old but I can still see, you know."

Ally tugged on my sleeve and I sighed. "She thinks you're my girlfriend," I explained. She almost choked on the bite of toast in her mouth and politely spit it out onto a napkin. She turned to Nonna and started explaining in rapid Spanish, her face a bright red. "Oh no, we aren't dating. We're just good friends. He's teaching me English is all. He lives with my brother Castel in the Newsboy Lodging House."

Nonna chuckled. "Be that as it may little one, I can see you are very much in love with my grandson. He's very much in love with you as well, though he won't admit it. I'm afraid he gets that stubborn streak from me. But he'll come around. He always does." She patted our hands and smiled. Ally and I looked down at them, just realizing we had been holding hands without realizing it.


I walked Ally back to Maggie's so she could get ready for work and bring the kids to school. We talked about Nonna the whole way back.

"I like her," she said. "She is un paquete de alegría."

"You really think so?"

"Si, muchísimo. She's very different from my grandparents."

"How so?"

"They are very polite and set in their ways. My papa is like that. He is very set in his ways but is too polite to tell you if you upset him. It was hard growing up, not knowing if he was upset with you or not."

I stopped walking and turned to face Ally. She sounded sad while talking about her papa, and I wanted to make her smile again. Reaching for her, I hugged her and rubbed small circles on her back. I could feel her relaxing in my arms, a sigh of contentment escaping her lips. We drew back enough to look into each other's eyes. Her eyes widened a bit as I started to lean in, but she didn't pull away.

"Are you gonna kiss Auntie Ally?" The tiny voice made us pull apart in shock. Ariana stood next to us, wide-eyed and curious.

"Auntie Ally?" I stared at her and then at Ally, not sure when they had started calling Ally Auntie.

Caelyn nodded as she walked up. "We call you Uncle Tony and Maggie says you like Ally. So that makes her Auntie, don't it?"

Just then Boyden and Darien came down the stairs, fighting with their wooden swords. "Antonio and Ally, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" they shouted. Ally walked over and grabbed each of them by an ear, marching them up the stairs and back into the house. Ariana grabbed my hand and I looked down at her.

"I like you, but if you like Ally that's okay too. I like her. She sings me lullabies and lets me play her flute sometimes." She skipped off to join Caelyn just as Ally came back down with the twins, flute in one hand and music and packed lunches in the other. Calling the kids over, she waved good-bye and herded them off to school. Maggie hurried down the stairs to wave them off. I pointed my thumb in their direction and asked "Wat was dat about?"

"They're a bit crazy this morning," Maggie told me, looking apologetic. "I really haven't a clue where they get their energy." Her apologetic look turned suspicious. "Tell me about last night. What happened?" I glared at her, hoping my face wouldn't turn red and give me away. "Well?" she asked when I didn't say anything. "Start talking boy!"

"We kissed last night." I whispered it to myself, hoping Maggie wouldn't hear and ask me to repeat it.

"Speak up boy. My hearing isn't so good."

"We kissed last night. Ise don't know wat made me do it-"

Maggie let out a loud cry, raising one fist in the air. "I knew it! It's about time. You two are so cute, the way you just danced around each other. Oh, this is good news. I knew it! I knew it the entire time. Oh what fun!" She started dancing and spinning around me, laughing her head off. I grabbed her arm to stop her; all that spinning was making me dizzy.

"We's ain't a couple. We's just kissed."

"Then what happened this morning?"

"Ise brought her ta my nonna's place fer breakfast. Ise wanted dem ta meet. Plus my nonna's a real good cook. We didn't talk 'bout last night at all."

Maggie shook her head at me. "Antonio Higgins, what is the matter with you? You can't just kiss a girl one night and bring her to breakfast the next day but not talk about it. You had better march after that girl and kiss her right good young man! And when you finish, you better make sure she knows she's your girl before she goes running off to Spot and kissing him." She gave me a shove in the direction Ally had gone and went back inside, muttering to herself in a mixture of Spanish and English. I stumbled a bit before regaining my balance and trotting off in the right direction. Just as I turned the first corner, a fist swung out and struck me square in the nose. I fell backwards on my rear, holding my nose to stop the blood coming out of my nose.

"Wat do youse mean by kissin my goirl, Higgins?" I looked up at the shadow falling over me to see Spot glaring at me. "Dat's my goirl and if Ise hear dat youse kissed her again, Ise'll do worse den bust your nose." He backhanded me as he turned and left. I sat on the ground holding my nose and wondering what I had gotten myself into by kissing Ally.

Il mio bambino-My baby (Italian)

Benvenuti nella mia casa-Welcome to my home. (Italian)

Una vera bellezza-a real beauty

Nonna-grandma/grandmother

Tu sei il benvenuto, mio caro-You are welcome my dear

Gracias means thank you

Fidanzata-girlfriend

Somaro-dunce

Un paquete de alegria-A bundle of joy

Si, muchisimo-Yes, very much so

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