It was that time of the evening, when the rocking chair started to make the wooden floor squeak.
Soon, Clarisse would help her grand mother into bed, and head downstairs, to her own apartment. She enjoyed these quiet moments spent with her Nonna. Many didn’t understand her dedication to the old lady, but it was way beyond the usual family ties. Nonna had raised the little girl she was when both her parents had been killed in a tragic car accident. And when her late grand father had left them, the previous year, she would return the favor.
You know, Pumpkin, that’s me…
Nonna’s knotty index was pointing at the old painting she spent most of her evening time staring at.
What’s that, Nonna?
The old lady rarely spoke anymore… She mumbled, but Clarisse had given up the hope to have an actual conversation with her beloved grand mother. Taken by surprise, she left her dish cloth on the kitchen table and rushed to kneel against Nonna’s frail legs.
That girl, on the right… That’s me.
Clarisse didn’t remember where the painting had come from, probably a flea market, but she didn’t care. Nonna’s eyes were sparkling as she started telling about how she had met him, while visiting Paris. The storyline was a little blurry, but filled with romantic touches… According to her, he was a painter that had a little stand by the Seine, but it was walking along a street near the Champs Élysées that she had noticed that he was following her, drenched by the pouring rain.
She had confronted him, he hadn’t denied the innocent stalking.
Nonna giggled, obviously keeping bouts of the tale to herself. Her entangled thoughts were a little difficult to follow, but there was certainly some hand holding, and even a few stolen kisses…
He offered me this painting the night before I had to travel back to Firenze, Pumpkin.
Clarisse held her grand mother’s hands tenderly as her gaze phased out again in the depths of her Alzheimer’s parallel world. In a split second, the brief contact was over.
Was Nonna’s apparently secret love story a late confidence, or just the work of her imagination? She would most probably never know.
Clarisse stood up, kissed Nonna’s forehead and walked back to the table to pick her dish cloth to finish cleaning the dishes.
In the background, the wooden floor kept squeaking in the otherwise silent apartment.