Airport arrivals

An elderly couple catches sight of their daughter. There are long, long hugs. Mum hides her tears by straightening her daughter’s collar, Dad does the same by busily wheeling the trolley away. Daughter does not hide her tears, she lets them flow from wide-open eyes, but slows them by smiling tight-lipped at people in the waiting crowd. And the tears seem to be as catching as yawns; I am one of the grown men clearing my throat, my fist to the bridge of my nose. Then, recognising a shared emotion through the tears, we nod and smile at strangers. And then we all move in our own directions.

Away

He took a pre-emptive swig from the bottle of indigestion remedy, put it back in his pocket and strode with a sigh into the bodega. “Now listen here, compadre” he said, as patiently as he could. The barman looked at Johnny. “Sì?”

“I DO NOT WANT PIGEON PIE WITH MY FINO, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”

The barman looked at him. So did the other people in the bar. Johnny belched quietly. He heard himself being too loud. He did not want to seem unreasonable.

“Yes, of course, mister Johnny. No pigeon pie this time. Nothing to eat at all? I recommend –”

“There is only one thing I want. I told you last time but you gave me that pigeon pie. It’s lying heavy, let me tell you.”

“Senor?”

“Doesn’t matter. Just give me what I asked for before.”

“Of course senor. Here is your fino. And this one is on the house.”

Johnny flushed. “Thank you. But to eat?”

“I am sorry mister Johnny. But here we do not have the macaroni pie.”

Johnny sat heavily on the wooden stool and closed his eyes. He sank the sherry in front of him in a swallow and a single tear squeezed from his eye. He rubbed it into his cheek. He had been away too long.

Rosanna and Carlino: Scene 1 – in the classroom

Rosanna is a kindergarten English teacher in Italy. There are nine or ten children in the room, all doing different things until she calls them to her. She is sitting on a low chair and has a colourful book on her knees.

Rosanna: Children, come, come. Bambini, venite.

The children gather round and after some pushing and scuffling all sit cross-legged around her.

Rosanna: Look! Look! Who is? Who is? Guardate? Chi è? Sapete chi è?

Children: Shouts of ‘Sì’.

Rosanna: It’s the wolf! Look, it’s the wolf! Sì, sì, è il lupo. See his eyes! What big eyes! What black eyes! Che occhi grandi, no? Avete visto che occhi? Carlino had such eyes. Such deep black eyes. He looked at me and I was lost. I forgot he was the wolf. Che occhi….

The children look at one another as Rosanna’s voice tails away. She touches her eye with the tip of a finger. FADE

Sam died just outside the ladies’ changing rooms

Sam died just outside the ladies’ changing rooms, sitting on one of those padded plastic benches where the bored husbands wait to say everything looks lovely. He was watching a woman walk by carrying champagne flutes and a Christmas sweater when the pain started and his heart stopped. None of the men noticed anything different until Felicity emerged in her potential party dress and, smiling apologetically at those who had survived him, gave the slumping Sam a poke.

The commotion in the department store exploded then soon calmed; they almost seemed used to it. Inside Felicity’s head the commotion lasted much, much longer. Hours later she found herself sitting on the edge of her bed, her sensible coat draped around her bare shoulders. She shrugged it off. Somehow she was still wearing the sparkling black party dress. She stood and looked at herself in the mirror, turned one shoulder and reached round to pull down the zip. It had jammed. She almost, almost, called out for Sam then cried as if she would never stop.