The War

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Spring {VI}

I squinted and held my hand up to block the blinding sunshine coming through my window.

I groaned and pulled my sheets over my head, but the sun still shone through. Between Dominic getting us tickets to Italy and finding out Bastien isn’t dead, I had a pretty long night and at least deserved another hour of sleep. But alas, the world would not give it to me.

I heaved myself out of bed and shuffled into my closet. I passed by the journal Bastien gave me and tucked it in the crawlspace where other memories of him lived. Reemerging in wide-leg pants and an off-shoulder blouse, I raked my fingers through my hair, grabbed my journal, and prepared to deal with the aftermath of last night.

To my surprise, it looked as if nothing had happened last night, the only evidence of celebration being the case of champagne in the kitchen and presents in the living room. On the patio, Dominic, Delilah, Bastien, his parents, and my parents were having brunch.

Before they could see me, I went straight into the library to start writing. The library had a sort of bright, hazy glow to it. I don’t know if it was from my lack of sleep or just the beauty of an April morning, but it was perfect. Settling down on the bench underneath the window, I flipped past the several pages of thoughts, notes, and unfinished poems, namely the September Concerto that I hadn’t been able to finish for months now. So, I flipped to a new page and started a new poem.

In the rain, underneath the stars, we swayed,

At some point, he whispered, “Batte per te,”

Outside, little raindrops clung to the blades of grass and reflected little rainbows on the window. I stared at the grass and hummed as I sifted through memories of last night.

Tickets to Italy and glasses of champagne,

Everything was perfect until he showed up in the rain.

A leather journal and a death reminisced,

The sun came up, and -

“And...” I muttered to myself and sorted through things that would fit.

The sun came up, and I fell asleep in the morning mist.

I wrinkled my nose at that line and bookmarked the page. I pressed my head against the windowsill, welcoming the cool glass and bright sunshine.

“I brought you a muffin,” Delilah said by way of greeting as she stood in the doorway. “I figured you wouldn’t want to go to brunch this morning.”

She stepped into the room and sat the chocolate muffin down beside me.

“How are you doing?” she rubbed my shoulder and stared out the window.

I admitted and took a bite out of the muffin, “I don’t know.” My response was muffled by the muffin so it sounded more like gibberish. I stopped eating and added, “I was writing.”

“Good writing or bad writing?” she moved my muffin and sat in its place.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged and handed her my journal.

She mumbled the words as she read, her finger tracing every line. “Why didn’t you finish it?”

“Because I don’t know how it ends.”

“It doesn’t end with either of them. It ends,” she reasoned, “with us being successful, wearing Versace, and traveling the world.”

“I’m more of a Dior girl myself,” I mused and turned towards her.

“Either way,” she smiled and popped another piece of the muffin in her mouth, “it’s going to be you and me.”

_____________________________________________

The rest of the house was swept clean of any evidence from last night’s party, but gifts were piled high in the living room.

“Add Tía Giselle to the list of people to receive thank-you notes,” my mother folded up a yellow sundress as she ordered around Delilah.

I opened up a neatly wrapped gift box from my grandmother. “A Tiffany bracelet from New York from grand-mère.”

At the mention of my grandmother, my father grunted and opened his book.

“Emilio,” my mother stopped opening my gifts to chide my father.

He’d held several grudges against my grandmother over the years. The main ones being that my grandmother was French, not Spanish and that she moved to New York after my parents got married. I, on the other hand, loved my grandmother. She was vibrant and elegant and knew everything there was to know about anything.

My father grumbled his response and continued to read.

“Add grand-mère Amélie to the list too, Delilah,” my mother ignored him this time and started to open another box.

“This one’s from Mateo,” my mother handed me a plain cardboard box from my brother.

I grabbed it from her and opened it up. A letter sat at the very top of layers of tissue paper.

Camila,

Feliz cumpleaños princesa. Siento no haber podido llegar este año. Espero que te guste tu regalo. Carolina y yo te extrañamos y no podemos esperar a verte. |Happy birthday, princess. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it this year. I hope you like your gift. Carolina and I miss you, and we can’t wait to see you soon.|

Amor, |Love,|

Mateo

"Did he say he was coming home?” my mother clasped her hands together hopefully.

“He said he and Carolina would see us soon,” I evaded directly answering her question and looked at Mateo’s gift.

“Add Mateo to the list,” my mother waved her hand at Delilah and waited expectantly for me to tell her the contents of the box.

“He got me...” I started as I picked out a gold necklace from the layers of tissue paper, “a gold necklace...” I pulled out a small, but expensive bottle of perfume, “...Caron Bellodgia perfume....” the last thing I pulled out was stationery set with watercolor flowers, “...and stationery.”

“The perfume was no doubt from Carolina,” she smiled as she reached for the bottle. “Maybe if he’d write me, or call, or even visit -”

“Mateo is a grown man, Valentina,” my father set down his book to cut her off, “he’ll visit or call or write when he wants to.”

My mother rolled her eyes and pulled out another gift.

We opened gift after gift, and Delilah added at least six more names to the thank-you note list. Once all the gifts were open, the sun began to set. We stayed in the living room though, and the sounds of laughter filled the house.

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