When the shaven-headed nun tied coloured strings around my wrist, I cried.

The strings stayed tied tight for months. Sometimes they tangled with my watchstrap. Sometimes, after rain or a bath, their dampness reminded me they were there.

One day it came to me that it would soon be time to take them off. I could do it any time, any place, but a need for pattern, for meaning, made me decide to wait until April 25th. Why then? Liberation Day in Italy. How is that relevant to strings around my wrist? It is not. But it is a date that is remembered, printed on the calendar in the same colour as one of the strings. The other was the yellow of Mediterranean daisies.

The morning of the 25th, still wet from the shower, I held out my arm and the strings were cut off. If I had had an open fire, I would have burnt them. They would have hissed and curled and disappeared in smoke and ash. But I did not have a fire, though it was cold that Liberation Day, so I dropped them in the bin.

I still think about them, and the sobbing. My arm still feels bare.

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