She woke up when she had realised that he had his arm around her waist, holding her a little closer.
She smiled feeling his kisses on her neck and shoulders, but couldn’t help feeling sad at the same time: as soon as she woke up, memories and concerns regained colour, shining vividly.
Ther was no point in talking about it again, with the risk of ruining those last few hours, so she just turned towards him and sank her head in his shoulder, hugging him and pressing herself against his chest.
She couldn’t see him, but she could almost feel him softly smiling while stroking her hair.
They were both thinking about it, but because of a silent agreement they could still pretend otherwise. In the end he broke the silence: ‘It’s almost time’. He spoke with an hint of melancholy, but his voice left no room for further delays. She closed her eyes for a moment and, with a sigh, swept away her indecision: she would have had plenty of time to complain later; Right now, she thought, it wasn’t the right time. ‘You go and take a shower, I’ll make you something to eat’. They kissed one last time, before untangling their bodies and getting up.
She shivered watching the sea from the window, so she took the blue shawl from the chair and threw it on her shoulders before going back to lean against the glass, trying to enjoy the warmth coming from the last sun rays of the day. She could hear him searching his clothes through the room, cursing from time to time. It made her giggle: in the silence of the empty house she would have missed his curses too. He eventually appeared in the kitchen doorway.
The first time she had seen him he was wearing the same clothes he had just arrived. She had gone with her friends to see them getting off their ship to spend the afternoon on land, to enjoy one of the rare moments which would break the year’s monotony. It had to be a game. He had joked about it from the very beginning: ‘I’ll only be here for six months, but you will probably get tired of me much earlier’.
And they had ended up falling in love like a couple of idiots.
She said goodbye standing in the porch. Taking him to the port would have only been agony and, although he would never admit it, she didn’t want to embarrass him in front of the others. She just wanted to avoid a melodramatic scene: she would have ended up sitting at the end of the dock, watching the ship leave until it had become a dot on the horizon. Kissing him one last time there and watch him go towards the beach was much better. After that, she would return home and finally be able to cry.
She eventually ended up at the end of the pier in the middle of the night. She couldn’t stand the sight of the empty bed and his scent. She cleaned the sheets, unpacked the entire room and ran away. She found the less uncomfortable spot of the dock, sat down and stared at the thousands of light fragments between the waves. Even the full moon was mocking her.
It had already been two months when the first letter arrived. She tried to read it slowly but when she saw the signature couldn’t help but smile: he was writing as if they just had said goodbye, telling her funny stories and describing the places he had visited. No regrets, no promises. Only in the last line there was a hint of sentimentality: ‘I can’t stop thinking about you’. ‘Me too’ she whispered.
They had often spoken about the future, when they would have been apart, and they agreed that asking each other to wait would have been useless and cruel. They would have said goodbye feeling grateful for those months they had together, but without hopes which were doomed to be shattered. She turned the letter between her fingers for a moment before putting it in the bedside table’s drawer. She was thankful for the unexpected gift, but went to sleep believing that she couldn’t expect more than that.
His letters came anyway. Not very often but regularly, every two or three months. The tone was always the same: quiet and joyful, with exotic stories intertwined with small details.
For some time she forced herself to be cynical. Sooner or later he would get tired, he would met someone else: she had to be prepared for a future silence. She couldn’t help but hope though, as every word of his was feeding the faint flame that was still burning inside her.
‘This is the last letter you will receive from me’. She felt her heart stop, and then beating faster. ‘If I manage to be fast enough, I’ll be already with you when you read this, but if I’m not, don’t worry. I’m coming back and this time, I promise you, you’ll have to tollerate me for much longer’. She started to run towards the door, but then stopped herself, feeling terribly stupid. She gently put the letter on the table and smiled.
When the evening came she let the scent of coffee fill the kitchen, then went in the bedroom. She pulled all the letters out of the drawer and holding them, she went to sit on the porch. With his words in her lap and the cup beside her, she stood still for a moment to watch the sea in the distance. The evening was cold, but she no longer felt the chills.
English version by the author (supervised by Sabrina Macchi)