Chapter 1: ROSALIE CONFIDES IN FRANCO
…It was the morning after a perfectly wonderful and memorable get-together with family, friends, and the man she loved. The end of the summer was closing in on her and she was feeling the effects of the all-too-familiar panic attacks she suffered throughout her life. The thought of winter frightened her the most. It felt cold, dark and ever so lonely. The days will grow shorter, the streets quieter, the trees barer and the New York winter will chill her to the bone. No one will be around except for those rushing off to work and those needing a container of milk for their morning coffee. Then there will be those walking their dogs, of course, fighting off the bitter winds as their pets run around in circles until they mark their spots. Some others will be making quick stops at the local candy store for their daily newspapers while she watches the world go by from her second floor window; like she does most days each and every winter. She will notice that no one likes to stop and chat during the cold winter months as most people prefer to rush home and hibernate, including herself, until the springtime rescues them from the brutal frost and biting winds of the season.
This morning, however, she sat at her kitchen table enjoying a fresh cup of French Roast, staring out the open window, and gazing at the playful birds that were chirping loudly and flying in and around the backyard fig tree beneath the early morning sun; a vision she hoped would sustain her throughout the approaching winter and throughout the raging thoughts that were screaming out in her unsettled mind. Every few minutes or so a warm breeze would blow through the open window, rattling her curtains and lightly brushing across her face, carrying a moment of peace upon its wings.
As the kitchen radio played, she tried to comprehend all the news briefs about the President, Congress, and world events – the local news, the national news, all sorts of news which sickened her to the point of nausea. The more she listened, the sicker she felt. Yet, she listened on as the news commentator continued about the horrific brush fires in California, the usual traffic and weather reports, the chaos in the Middle East and all of the other things happening in the world that were harshly annoying to her now. She had to stop listening! Although she welcomed the distraction, she just couldn’t think about all those issues right now. She had her own personal issues to deal with…Staring up at the round fluorescent light on her kitchen ceiling then back down at her coffee mug, rolling her eyes in discontent, she thought – “This darn world is just going about its business and there’s not much anyone can do about it, certainly not me…the economy is shaky, times are hard, and we are in financial crisis heading down the same road that brought us to the Great Depression back in 1929. Yet our wonderful leaders with their great vision still claim all is well…Ugh!” She rolled her eyes once again in annoyance and disbelief, but she knew she just couldn’t keep thinking about all those things right now. She had too much on her mind that needed immediate attention or she’d soon be swallowed up alive by something she couldn’t see, something she couldn’t touch, something that was out to destroy her. So today, as she sipped her cup of French Roast, Rosalie decided to tune out the unrest in the outside world and focus on her world, her life, her thoughts, her fears. The thoughts that tormented her day and night. This prompted Rosalie to jump out of her seat, turn off the kitchen radio, and sit back down to meditate in silence.
Her only solace, her only escape, was reminiscing about her hometown of Brooklyn, her Brooklyn. The Brooklyn she knew as a child growing up in a loving family, enjoying Sunday dinners and visits with her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The nostalgic and innocent thoughts of a child playing “hopscotch”, “hide and seek” and “jump rope” on her neighborhood block. Yes, that was Rosalie’s Brooklyn. The only place she’s ever lived, the only place she calls home, and the only place that comforts and protects her while everything else in her life crumbles around her like an earthquake. She feels like a frightened child in the body of a thirty-eight year old woman, wondering whether or not her heartfelt memories of life in Brooklyn are really enough to save her from that which wreaks havoc on her soul, plays with her mind, and plots to destroy her.
After another sip of French Roast, Rosalie finds another moment of joy as her thoughts revert back to the night before once again, when she and her boyfriend were basking in the safety net of a family barbecue, the last one of the summer; pigging out on garlic chicken, sirloin burgers, tender baby-back ribs and scrumptious sides of Italian pasta salad, stuffed artichokes and eggplant rollatini. All was safe and wonderful last night, especially after her third glass of Pinot Grigio. She recalls falling back into a lounge chair last evening, drifting away, on and off, off and on, hearing bits of mundane conversations going on around her while straining her ears to grasp the words of Italian folk songs playing on CD in the background. She was at peace then, and she felt safe with the man that she loved at her side; but interrupting that short-lived peace and harmony was the constant gnawing of reality, eating at her brain, waking up her senses, disturbing any restful moments she could salvage…So this morning, here she sits at her kitchen table trying desperately to hide somewhere within nature’s bliss happening outside her open window, or somewhere within the comforting aromas of French Roast, or somewhere within the wonderful thoughts of last evening; but there is no hiding, there is no calm, there is no comfort. No. Not today. Not the days to follow, nor any day to come. Not for Rosalie. That is the reality of her world. She sits motionless, with meandering thoughts of comfort and fear; crumpling a paper napkin, nervously shredding it to bits and pieces between her slender fingers, watching as each piece falls to the table in front of her, wondering what she will do now to confront the “voices” from her cellar.
Who would she tell? Who would listen? Who would believe her? Is she going crazy? She is frightened and doesn’t know where to turn…She jumps as she hears the key in the door. A familiar men’s cologne fills the air and finds its way to her nostrils, and she suddenly feels safe once again. It’s Franco, her one true love. The caring and handsome boyfriend who has shared her Brooklyn home with her for a good number of years since her parents passed, a year apart from each other while both in their early seventies, leaving the house to Rosalie. Rosalie was devastated by their passing. They had Rosalie late in life and Rosalie periodically suffered the loneliness of an only child, which just magnified her fears and her panic attacks with time. Her boyfriend Franco was a godsend.
Franco helped put this old house back into shape for her; new windows, new siding, new wood floors, new walls, and new mahogany doors with European doorknobs. He did it all - new plumbing, new gas and electric lines…but best of all he put up a white privacy fence in the backyard so he and Rosalie could enjoy their time together, away from the gaze of their inquisitive neighbors.
Franco was forty-something, a few years older than Rosalie. He was tall, strong, and masculine; and worked very hard with his hands. He was intelligent and confident, everything Rosalie looked for in a man. He could build a new house from the ground up and Rosalie was so proud of his talents. He worked for a local construction company, and was one of their best. He knew how to build just about anything. He made a great living and was able and very willing to help Rosalie share the bills, especially the major house bills, while she freelanced as a mystery writer. Oh, and yes - how he hated the old paneling Rosalie had on her walls throughout the narrow hallways; but somehow Rosalie was able to convince Franco not to tear down that paneling. She just wanted to paint over it so that the house could retain its original charm with a rustic look. Again, the familiar always seemed to comfort Rosalie. Franco easily agreed in order to keep Rosalie happy and smiling, as he often did.
…As Franco entered the kitchen, Rosalie excitedly jumped from her chair straight into Franco’s waiting arms like an eager child needing a protective hug. Franco responded in kind by holding her tightly. They both took their usual seats at the kitchen table, lovingly holding hands with arms stretched wide across it, sharing some French Roast while studying each other’s gaze. Franco then rose to get a plate from the kitchen cabinet for the hot sesame bagels he picked up at the neighborhood bagel shop they both know and love, and placed it in the middle of the table. He placed the fresh-smelling bagels in the plate, just below Rosalie’s nose. She loved the smell of fresh hot bagels. They enjoyed sharing bagels and coffee together as they chatted about love and life. However, Rosalie wanted so much to tell Franco about what she has recently been experiencing; what she has recently been hearing, coming up from the cellar. She was so tormented and so frightened to even think about it, but she needed Franco’s strong arms to hold her and his strong voice to comfort her. She didn’t know where to start. She feared he would think she was going crazy and possibly leave her at some point in the future. “Who would stay with a crazy woman who hears voices?” she thought. So she got up and rustled about the kitchen trying to slice and butter the bagels, hiding her fears, getting lost in her thoughts, while forcing a smile for Franco hoping he wouldn’t notice her anxiety.
“Rosalie,” he said, taking the knife from her hand with a concerned look on his face - “I’ll take care of the bagels. You sit and enjoy your coffee.” Franco sensed something wasn’t right with Rosalie, but he kept silent in order to allow her the privacy of her own thoughts. Soon enough, with tears flowing from her eyes, Rosalie said in a whisper, “Franco. I have something to tell you. I don’t know where to begin and I don’t know how you’ll take this.” Unable to make eye contact with Franco, Rosalie looked away and stared at the fallen sesame seeds in the white plate on the table, almost embarrassed to say another word.
Franco took one of his hands, calloused from the hard work he performed each day, and raised Rosalie’s chin until her bright hazel eyes met his. Her fair complexion added to her beauty…Rosalie had no choice but to look into his deep brown eyes, completely mesmerized by his long dark lashes and his handsome face. Rosalie, too, was as gorgeous as Franco was handsome. She was just under five feet two inches and quite a pleasant and petite package to Franco. They made a fabulous couple…Rosalie couldn’t help notice how Franco hadn’t blinked once as he so caringly studied her face and brushed back a loose strand of brown hair from her cheek. She truly felt him close as he touched her soul with his stare. The sensation made her shiver before a calmness came over her, allowing her to trust Franco enough to tell him about her encounters in the cellar.
“Talk to me Rosalie,” he said with a soft smile only a loving heart can give. He felt her pain, her fear, her panic and invited her to confide in him with little effort other than his kind voice. So Rosalie, determined to choose the best words to explain her ordeal to Franco, began to speak in a tone even foreign to herself, yet exceptionally confident and quite comfortable. She mustered the courage to finally speak honestly to Franco, but knew deep down inside of her that it was actually Franco’s strength and courage that allowed her to do so. So Rosalie began to pour her heart out as best she could, engaging Franco in the conversation of a lifetime.
Rosalie first asked Franco if he believed in ghosts and the afterlife, to which Franco surprisingly responded, “I believe spirits are around us all the time.” Rosalie smiled, thinking how easily she got through the first part of this talk she feared having with Franco for quite some time. The talk she practiced over and over again in her head to ensure the words came out exactly right when she needed them. Rosalie was overjoyed at Franco’s response. Franco then cautiously asked Rosalie, “Why such a question?” - almost as if he, himself, feared the answer. Rosalie’s response was short but powerful. She simply stated, “I hear voices coming from the cellar Franco. I think the house is haunted.” Franco responded with a chuckle, “It’s probably just the mice and rats playing around from all the work I’ve been doing in this house. I must have disrupted their living space and they’re just mad at us.” Rosalie was not happy with Franco’s witty response as she felt Franco’s sudden shift from real concern to amusement, at her expense. Rosalie, choking back her words, asked Franco to please be serious because the voices she has been hearing from down in that cellar are real. Franco took one look at the fright in Rosalie’s eyes then realized he needed to take her seriously because this woman before him was devastated by her own thoughts and words. So Franco grew deeply concerned at this point. He held Rosalie’s petite shoulders, positioned her to face him directly, pushed her long brown hair away from her pretty face and said, “Go on Rosalie. Tell me about the cellar. I’m listening sweet girl.”
Through tears, Rosalie went on to say that she hears conversations going on down there. She can’t actually make out the exact words, but she knows it’s human-like chatter; sometimes she hears her name being mentioned – even being called out as if someone is summoning her to the cellar. She hears a horrible moaning as well. It’s awful. She told Franco she has been so frightened by this for several weeks, since it first started…she thought she was going crazy hearing those voices, but soon realized it was all real. It had to be. She further explained how one day she decided to go down to the cellar to check things out just in case this was all in her mind, but as she approached the cellar door she heard a voice call out to her. It was a loud, somewhat distorted whisper saying, “Rosalie! Rosalie! Come down here Rosalie!” The closer she got to that door, the clearer the words. It wasn’t a familiar voice she heard. It was horrible sounding; eerily harsh and terribly threatening. She couldn’t tell if it was male or female, but it was definitely someone or something. At this point she had Franco’s full attention. So Rosalie continued to explain that she immediately turned around and ran back up the stairs to the apartment like a bat out of hell, tripping over her own feet, locking the door behind her and hoping that whoever or whatever was down that cellar would not and could not follow her up the stairs. She ran so fast that she felt she had outrun herself, as her heart began beating out of her chest. She was out of breath and she shook all over. Once safely in the apartment, she turned the television on so loud just to feel that someone else was home with her even though no one was there. Then she sat on the sofa hugging a huge throw pillow, staring at the door, just waiting for something evil to break it down. She began praying and praying, unconsciously biting her lip with every word, almost drawing blood, in hopes that she’d be protected from this evil frightful “voice”, this awful “thing” that continues to call upon her. She sadly stated that she struggles within herself, unable to determine what is real and what is not…In a solemn tone Rosalie said to Franco, “I’m not myself anymore. I’ve been losing sleep over this, I can’t concentrate on my writing and I’m scared all the time. I hate being alone. I’m afraid of life. I’m just falling apart. I wanted so much to tell you about this Franco but I feared you would never believe me. I was afraid you’d think it was just an exaggerated panic attack of mine, or that I was going crazy. I couldn’t bear the thought of you not believing me. I need you on my side Franco. I’m so, so frightened. I don’t know what’s happening. What am I going to do?”
Franco sat silently for a moment, then questioned Rosalie with a pensive look on his face, asking Rosalie if she’s been under any stress from her writing lately, trying to make a short deadline perhaps; or if she’s been thinking about her deceased parents; or if she’s been watching any horror films, had any bad dreams. Rosalie became increasingly sadder and slightly enraged at this point, sensing Franco did not believe her, as she originally feared. Franco assured Rosalie that he believed every word of what she was saying; however, before they go down that road of hearing voices and conversations from the cellar, he just wanted to be sure she was in a clear, calm, lucid state of mind, free of the effects of panic attacks, bad dreams, scary thoughts and anything else that could frighten her to the point of letting her imagination run wild on her. Rosalie assured Franco that this is not her imagination. Angrily, she explained that she already had this conversation with herself on a daily basis since all this started. Rosalie insisted that what she is hearing from that cellar is real. She just can’t explain exactly what or why it’s happening. Franco, sitting silently once again, thought for a few more moments, then presented Rosalie with a fair suggestion. Franco suggested they both go down to the cellar together. He promised Rosalie he would hold her tightly as they approached the cellar so she wouldn’t feel so frightened while she listened for her name being called out again, or any conversations going on for that matter. If so, Franco thought that maybe he would hear it as well. Or maybe they would discover a logical reason behind whatever it is Rosalie is hearing. Franco looked somewhat perplexed about what Rosalie had just told him since they’ve both gone down to that cellar many times before, as they use that space for storage. Franco even built a wooden wine rack down there for their favorite wines. All the Christmas decorations and special dinnerware sets are down there as well. Franco was truly caught off guard with Rosalie’s story and is hoping that their visit together down to that cellar will somehow alleviate Rosalie’s fears and prove that all is well, and that perhaps she was mistaken. The house is very old, built in 1890. Franco commented that it’s quite possible that Rosalie is hearing the muffled sounds of an old house settling on its foundation, mixed with the loud sounds of traffic and people’s voices from off the street. Along with that, there is the constant meowing of backyard cats – and even the chirping of birds she loves to listen to each morning…Franco took another look at Rosalie’s sullen eyes and helpless facial expressions and just couldn’t wait another moment. He firmly, yet lovingly, asked Rosalie to please allow him to accompany her down to the cellar. It’s the only way.
Rosalie adamantly exclaimed, “No Franco! I can’t go down there! I’m deathly afraid of approaching that cellar again. I can’t do it.” Franco assured Rosalie that he would protect her from whatever is happening down there, and that confronting her fears is the best way to handle this. He strongly felt that Rosalie needed to greet this situation head on - and with Franco by her side, they could do this together. Rosalie, like a frightened child, hid her face in both hands and began to sob. Franco held her for a moment, as they stood silently, trying to make sense of Rosalie’s account of things. Rosalie suddenly looked up at Franco with a renewed strength and said, “Okay. Maybe you’re right Franco. I need to approach this head on if I am going to overcome this. If I don’t do that, I’ll never be free of it. Whatever or whoever is down that cellar could possibly torment me for the rest of my life if I don’t find out what’s going on. I can’t live like this anymore and you can’t either Franco, but I can’t do it alone. Together, I think I can handle this. Thank you Franco for supporting me on this. I do love you. Thank you for believing me…I feel like a heavy weight has been lifted off of my shoulders now that you know about this.” Franco continued to hold Rosalie, gently stroking her long brown hair until she stopped shaking in his arms. He kissed her forehead and together they began to make their way down to the cellar hand in hand.
Rosalie squeezed Franco’s hand so tight that his fingers became numb. He then put his arm around her waist and guided her down the staircase until they reached the first floor. He felt her hesitation, as she pulled back with every step. They stood on that first floor in front of the mahogany door leading to the newly-renovated apartment, where they set up guest bedrooms for visits from family and friends. Rosalie stood there, as if she was frozen in time. She said to Franco, “I can’t go any farther! Wait! Please! Give me a second! I’m paralyzed with fear! You can’t imagine what I’ve been through, and now you’re asking me to relive this by going down to that cellar. I don’t know if I can do this Franco, even with you by my side.” Franco patiently waited at that spot with Rosalie, allowing her some time to build up the courage to move on with him…Then several minutes later, unable to contain himself any longer, he asked, “Anything so far Rosalie? Do you hear anything at all? Voices? Conversations? Moaning?” Rosalie self-consciously responded, “No Franco. I don’t hear anything. Nothing.” Franco then said with a smile, “Be strong Rosalie. We’re making progress. Come on, a few more steps. You can do this. Let’s open that cellar door and confront your fears. Let’s look around. I promise you’ll be okay. We’ll count all the bottles of wine we bought over the years that we stored on the wine rack. Then maybe we’ll check out the Christmas decorations to see what we’d like to use this year. How does that sound Rosalie?” With reservation, Rosalie complied. She nervously held onto the back of Franco’s belt with three fingers, almost pulling him back as he turned the old glass doorknob and opened the cellar door. He made his way down the old wooden staircase leading to the dusty cellar with Rosalie right behind still holding onto Franco’s belt, fearing the worst. Rosalie jumped out of her skin as the door slammed shut behind them. The hairs on both her arms were standing up, she thought she’d faint. Franco grabbed Rosalie and held her tight, assuring her that it was just the wind from the cellar that caused the door to close. There was an air vent down there which allowed the outside air to come in. Small gusts of wind brushed across their cheeks as they carefully proceeded down the wooden staircase one step at a time, listening to the creaking beneath their feet with each step. Franco aimlessly reached in the darkness for the hanging pull chain in order to turn on the cellar light. When he felt the chain in his hand he quickly pulled on it to Rosalie’s delight, then proudly smiled like a brave knight coming to the aid of his damsel in distress, his dear Rosalie. Together they would search the cellar and listen for something – anything that might support Rosalie’s claims or, hopefully, ease her fears and erase any notion of evil lurking down that cellar. It seemed the side door to the cellar was intact, and all truly remained quiet. Rosalie cringed while walking into some old cobwebs that fell across her face and lips. She squeamishly removed them from her face with a swift wave of her hand, pulling on their relentless fibers. She continued walking past them, still waving her hands in front of her as if clearing light brush from a walk in the woods. Unduly annoyed at Franco she yelled, “I thought you were going to power wash this cellar Franco! This is horrible! These cobwebs are sticking to my face!” For a moment, Rosalie forgot the real reason why she had gone down to the cellar with Franco in the first place. Franco, not wanting to upset Rosalie in her fragile state, very politely reminded Rosalie that they were there to check out her claims of hearing voices in the cellar and that perhaps she should be thankful that the cobwebs are the only things she’s encountered so far. Rosalie fearfully looked up at Franco, then sheepishly nodded and apologized for yelling at him. She explained that it’s her fear pushing her to speak to him in such a harsh tone. Franco kissed her forehead, grabbed her delicate hand, and led her through the cellar.
Together they walked past the wooden wine rack Franco built as Rosalie ran her fingers across each dusty bottle, leaving a stretch of fingermarks on every one. They happily reminisced about each purchase of wine; the where, the what, the when and why of it all, always linking a romantic memory to each bottle. Rosalie suddenly felt a warmth come over her, and the cellar somehow felt friendly, safe, happy, loving and calm. “How could this be?” she thought. “How could this place which has been feeding my fears and tormenting my soul, feel so peaceful now?” Rosalie couldn’t understand the sudden change. She thought that perhaps it was just being here with Franco that made her feel so protected, so loved, so safe and so secure. She didn’t want those feelings to leave her now. So she quietly followed behind Franco, as they continued to look around at the large array of Christmas decorations popping out of opened yet tightly packed boxes. Each box was carefully marked in large black letters, identifying its contents. Rosalie then gazed to the right of the Christmas decorations only to find under plastic wrap the antique, vintage dinnerware sets handed down from her great grandmother to her grandmother to her mother – and now to her. The memories of her mother, her father, her grandparents and the generations before them just brought tears to Rosalie’s eyes. She missed them so dearly…All of a sudden she glanced over at Franco and broke into laughter. There he stood - this tall, handsome hunk of a man, smiling widely in a Santa hat and a string of Christmas lights draped across his shoulders. Rosalie playfully skipped over to Franco and kissed his lips, feeling thankful that God sent him to her. She couldn’t imagine her life without him. He always knew how to make her smile, even when she felt she couldn’t.
Franco then asked Rosalie how she felt about being down the cellar now. Rosalie quickly responded without a second thought that she can’t understand it. She doesn’t feel the fear, the evilness, the fright that she felt all these weeks. He then inquired, “Did you hear any voices or eerie conversations while we were walking through here Rosalie?” Rosalie responded with a simple smirk on her face and said, “No Franco, I didn’t. I’m more confused now than I was before we came down here. I expected the worst – and nothing. All I feel right now is peace, love, joy - I’m happy. Am I going crazy Franco?” Franco teasingly threw some loose tinsel at Rosalie and softly replied, “No, Rosalie. You are not going crazy sweet girl. Is it safe to say that maybe being alone and working at home most of the day possibly caused your imagination to run wild on you? You do write mystery novels Rosalie.” Rosalie, to Franco’s amazement, agreed that yes it was possible; but she was still stuck somewhere between what was real and what was not. Whatever has been happening to Rosalie over the past few weeks all seemed so real to her; but now, going down to the cellar with Franco at her side, has certainly put doubt in her mind. She now thought yes, surely it’s possible her imagination was in overdrive.
She recalled one time being alone at night after writing a really frightening chapter, while Franco was working overtime, how she was unable to shake the haunting chills from her body. Everything seemed to scare her that night. She could hear her neighbors’ voices right in her living room. She jumped at the sound of slamming car doors, cats meowing, and dogs barking. The whistling of the wind made her frantic. She was terrified at the thought that someone could be at her apartment door trying to get in. She remembered how she stared at the doorknob praying it wouldn’t turn. She knew if it was Franco, he’d be using his key. She recalled how she fearfully ran into her bedroom that night and quickly got undressed so she could hide beneath the flannel sheets and quilted bedspread, until Franco got home. She couldn’t sleep a wink that night. As soon as she heard the key in the door, however, she sunk into her soft pillow and fell off to sleep, promising herself that she wouldn’t let Franco know about this. She was so embarrassed by her own behavior. So yes, it’s quite possible that her imagination may be running away on her again…but this time it had a voice, an evil voice!...multiple evil voices just chattering away…calling her name…moaning angrily! “No, no, no,” Rosalie thought to herself. “I can’t keep doing this.” She clearly realized that Franco proved to her today that there was absolutely nothing evil going on down that cellar. She witnessed that for herself. She hated to admit it, but she felt Franco could be right. Her imagination could be the source of her fears. How could she deny this. There was absolutely nothing down that cellar that frightened her today except her own thoughts. Was she going crazy? Were her panic attacks out of control?
Franco tapped Rosalie on the shoulders from behind, causing her to jump off the ground by an inch or two…he quickly apologized for frightening her. Rosalie just dropped to the ground and sat on the cold and dirty concrete floor, burying her face in her hands. Franco sat beside her and grabbed her hands pulling them away from her face. He held them tightly, as she looked up at him. Rosalie cried, “I can’t take much more of this. I’m ready and willing to try to accept the fact that yes – maybe my imagination is getting the best of me, but today was a little too much to bear. I’m trying to be brave here, but I’m jumping at everything, even you tapping me on my shoulders Franco.” Franco laughed and said, “Rosalie. I’m proud of you. You faced your fears today. So now maybe you can move on free of all this crazy stuff about conversations and voices from the cellar. No sweet girl?” Rosalie replied, “All I can do is try. Today is definitely a first step Franco. I’ll try, that’s all I can promise.”
Suddenly out of nowhere, one of the wine bottles came crashing to the ground. The wine splattered all over the floor, across the bottom of the wine rack, and onto some of the Christmas boxes. Rosalie jumped from the floor to her feet in seconds. Franco jumped up as well. They were both on high alert, staring at each other, silently knowing what the other was thinking – (What the hell was that?!) … Franco being the gentleman and the protector that he was, immediately went over to the wine rack to see what and how this happened. He carefully picked up the pieces of glass from the broken wine bottle, placed them in an old cardboard box, then proceeded to wipe up the wine from the floor with some old rags while periodically making eye contact with Rosalie. He knew what she was thinking. Something not of this world, made this happen. He could see it in her eyes. He just couldn’t let her think that. She came a long way today by confronting her fears down this cellar. He had to logically explain this away; but honestly, he himself didn’t know how. He had no logical explanation. Then he thought for a moment…whether it was to ease Rosalie’s fears or to ease his own, he blurted out, “Rosalie! Do you know how this happened? Come over here! Look! Do you see all these fingermarks on these dusty bottles of wine? They’re your fingermarks Rosalie. You were touching the bottles as we walked past the wine rack before. This bottle probably rolled a bit closer to the edge when you touched it, then the vibrations of the traffic pushed it along, right off the rack onto the floor. Bang! Just like that.”
Rosalie just stood there and grimaced. “Okay Franco,” she said. “I’ll accept your explanation for that occurrence. Do you know why I’ll accept your explanation Franco? Because I did in fact touch those wine bottles with my fingers. Maybe that one was a little closer to the edge as you say; but you have to admit those bottles are full and a little on the heavy side to fall from the rack so easily. Yet, you had a logical explanation for that too. Traffic. So enough said, let’s leave it at that. Things happen Franco, so thank you for cleaning up the mess and let’s just go back up to the apartment and leave well enough alone…You know what Franco, please take that framed picture of Jesus in the corner there and hang it on that nail on the wall overlooking this cellar. I want Jesus running things down here if you don’t mind.” Franco kindly looked over at Rosalie with a smile, and silently obeyed, doing as Rosalie asked. “It couldn’t hurt,” he thought to himself. “Who could argue with Jesus.”
Franco was just so thankful that Rosalie somewhat accepted his explanation of things and didn’t revert back to her fear of the cellar. That was a miracle in itself. He wasn’t positive about his reasoning behind the wine bottle crashing to the ground, but it’s the only thing that made sense and he refused to question it or fuel Rosalie’s fears.
Rosalie looked up at the framed picture of Jesus on the cellar wall and soon felt a sense of protection, strength and empowerment. She then focused her eyes on Franco and said without a care in the world, “I’d like for us to do something special tonight Franco. Let’s go Mexican.” Franco loved Mexican food, and he loved Rosalie. So with the vision of he and Rosalie sharing a pitcher of Sangria along with cheesey nachos and large burritos, he smiled. Rosalie looked back and smiled too. They both knew that after a romantic dinner tonight, they’d be making love to each other in the comfort and privacy of their own bedroom, safe and sound, free from the outside world and free from the thoughts of today’s adventure down the cellar. Franco tugged on the hanging pull chain to shut the cellar light as they both made their way up the creaking wooden staircase to the first floor, closing the cellar door behind them.