I see thousands of new faces when I travel, but in the blend of humanity passing by, one person might spark a curious notion. What is their story? As a fiction writer, I’m not bound to reality, so join me while I fill in the blanks for women I’ve encountered.
Bassano del Grappa
The literal meaning of the name of this town is “the base of the Grappa Mountain.” It was the town of Hemingway where the writer began his career as an ambulance driver in The Great War. Far from the trenches of France, this front pitted the Italians against the Austrians just over the mountains.
She worked as a travel guide, arranging trips through the Veneto. The longest wooden bridge in the world spanned the river near her apartment. She could see a bit of its red painted timbers from a corner of her bedroom, a room she shared often with a man of a long-term relationship. After fifteen years, it was over. They both knew it. But where did that leave her after all this time?
Now a guide without a compass, she was lost. So much time with a constant in her life now removed. The excitement drained slowly over the years morphing into familiarity. But it was something, and now, even that disappeared.
The handsome young man from Rome who flirted with her was a part of the tour. She was flattered. Almost young enough to be her son, she nevertheless agreed to go to dinner with him. She loved the way he looked at her. Was there a spark of desire she saw? He talked about what he wanted to do in life, which made her sad thinking how those decisions for her were long in the past. The excitement of what-might-be squelched by the reality of how-things-turned-out.
He left. Had to return to work in Rome. He promised to keep in touch, but she rather he didn’t, although she didn’t say it. She told her friends all about it. It was “a shot in the arm” she said. Although this young man was not destined to be more than a dinner out, she regained her bearings and headed out more comfortable about what-might-be.