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A Most Magical Summer Night
As the carriage came hurdling forward on the dirt road, I could more distinctly see a picturesque like village, similar to the ones you see in those old paintings in museums or portrayed in stories by writers such as Alexander Dumas. Even the dirt roads we were traveling on were beautiful, with one side covered in over grown weeping willows and cherry blossoms and the other with a perfect view of the hilly scenery of the village. Although the little town itself seemed to be frozen in time, I could most definitely see more modern houses on the fringes of it; other than that you would think you were traveling into the past. Some buildings even had vines growing on the brick walls. My little sister, who is a total romantic, would be in heaven right about now dreaming about a romantic summer here with her ‘Romeo’ or whatever.
I hadn’t even noticed that my mouth was hanging open until a group of passing teens started to snicker. Wait, were those actually teenagers? Maybe there was some hope after all. Because honestly, if I have to spend an entire summer here, I better not be the only person under the age of 50!
So tell me, what do you think when someone says Italy? You know what I was thinking when my parents asked me if I wanted to come: something along the lines of cute Italian guys, gorgeous beaches, and amazing shopping. Not to mention that that’s what my parents purposely led me to believe right up until the last week of my departure! They finally caved in when I wouldn’t stop singing the ABC song(I have really strong lungs, I could’ve gone for hours) and they showed me a picture of where I was going to stay with my grandmother. Which I, having absolutely no parenting skills whatsoever, would have been smart enough not to tell to someone and especially not me; but I guess they had a battle plan because I could say nothing to get out of it. Don’t get me wrong I love my family, especially my grandmother, who as I remember, from her visit about six years ago, was fun(although that could be because I was about 8 and she had Barbies); really I am glad to be visiting her. The thing is I’m 16, and my life has been nothing but boring summers with the family either working or stuck in the house, and then during the rest of the year catching up with school work and reading. I’m not trying to be a whiner but isn’t the year you turn 16 supposed to be amazing? All I wanted was a fun summer; well, there goes that dream…
Apparently the horses’ steady gallop had lulled me to sleep, because the carriage driver was coughing obnoxiously loud trying to wake me up.
“Wow! This place is so cute. Um, how much’s the ride?” I drowsily asked the driver.
“30 Euros, signorina,” he answered
I wonder how much that is… I hope it’s not a lot in US currency, that has to be like $30 or something.
“Here you go sir, thanks for the ride,” I said to him as I jumped out and quickly grabbed my things. “Cao, signorina!” the man called back to me.
If there was one thing I liked about Italy it was saying “Cao”, and not being thought of as a diva.
“Cao!” I responded casually.
I don’t know if it was the little power nap I got on my way here or if it was the cheerful atmosphere, but I was in a much better mood all of a sudden. Hmm… still I feel like I’m missing something… The directions!
“Oh wait!” I yelled while franticly (and unsuccessfully) chasing the carriage.
But it was already long gone, riding off into the sunset. I can’t believe I left the map to the house on the carriage seat! I’m saying this, but if you knew me you would know I was prone to these kinds of incidents.
Maybe some one here might know who grandma is and where she lives, I thought hopefully.
Swiftly searching for the nearest old lady (maybe they’d know each other from a garden club or something).
Falling into step with an old lady coming out of a bakery I said, “Perdonare, can you help me find someone?”
“Ovf course signorina, what can I help you with?” the old lady responded, in mostly Italian and a bit of broken English.
Do I sound that American, so that she thought I wouldn’t understand in Italian? I asked her in Italian didn’t I? I thought to myself, suddenly more self-conscious of my Italian.
“I’m looking for Adeline Giordano, she’s my grandmother,” I said replying in my best Italian.
“Si claro, she’sa with Marianna in the church. You turn left en la shop there and you’ll see it, you can ask anyone there about Addy.”
I thanked her and headed for the church, bags in tow. When I turned the corner I was instantly stunned, the church was absolutely glorious, it looked like a majestic cathedral almost too nice for this remote countryside village, only the vines creeping around the building‘s walls made the church look more at home. After a few minutes of gaping at the church I stumbled up the steps with my luggage. Regretting for a.) not working out with my friends and b.) bringing such a heavy suitcase.
Once in the church I looked for someone to ask and settled on another sweet looking old lady.
She saw me coming and greeted me first, “Hello there, can I help you with something?”
“Si, I’m looking for an Adeline Giordano.”
“That’s me right here, what can I do for you, mi amore?” she warmly replied.
At least she’s nice, but I’m guessing I’m going to be spending a lot of time in this church if she’s here on Tuesday afternoons.
“Oh, Hi! I’m Giselle, you probably don’t remember me because I was 8 and all but…..”
Adeline identified who I was mid sentence and just took me into a big bear hug, grandma style. She must have recognized my babbling(I never really got over doing that), because the next thing I know she’s talking a million miles per hour telling me how she hadn’t known I was coming today, asking what did I think of the town, etc. She helped me with my bags and led me to her house, which was only a few blocks away.
While looking at the house I saw that it was the same house with the vines that I’d seen on my ride here.
Maybe I could work as a gardener here; at least I’d always be busy.
It was so quiet in Calliano (the town) at night; I didn’t even know how I had thought that it would be safe to follow faint music around the entire village in a night gown at midnight. Yet, here I was in my jammies following the enchanting music. It wasn’t like a spell or anything of the sort, it was just beautifully played and it made me want to dance in a big fluffy dress. Finally, I saw where it was coming from. I was now in the more decrepit and older part of the village that faded into the forest. I wonder what somebody would be doing playing music in this part of town, I thought as I looked at a crumbling building from which the music seemed to be coming from.
I went through the large house following the music, ultimately entering upon a vast room where the music was loudest and clearest. But… how could that be… there’s no one here!
It has to be coming from right here, but the only things in the room are some tattered old furnishings and dust.
Suddenly for just a second the large, empty room transformed into a luxurious ballroom. I blinked and it was gone, still, the room was changing. What is this; I thought to myself rubbing my eyes to wake myself up a bit more. Before my eyes the room completely transformed into the flicker I had previously glimpsed. The walls were no longer bare and dilapidated, but painted a luxurious ivory with paintings and extravagant gold mirrors hanging on them. Magnificent, glass chandeliers hung from the ceiling, which was covered in amazing murals and framed in gold. With my eyes glued to my surroundings I followed the enticing music which seemed to be coming from near the balcony. There a young man dressed in the garments of an old fashioned royal, was sitting at the piano. Near him a man not quite as debonair but also formally dressed played the violin, both playing marvelously. Before I could notice anything more I was being twirled between dancers and their dresses. It all seemed like a scene from ‘Pride & Prejudice’ except this was more ostentatious and as you looked around you were instantly awe struck(or at least I was)
After a little bit I started to think more clearly: could the dancers see her and if they could why weren’t they staring at her, she was in a night gown for Christ’s sake! I hadn’t even noticed that I’d said that out loud but evidently I had, because the piano guy was now standing next to me.
“That’s one exquisite night gown, and believe me when I say that we can all see you,” the piano guy said as a response to my inquisitions. I now ventured to look at him more closely.
Wow, he was hot and cute and handsome and all of the in between. I really hope I’m not staring again. But, wow I know I said cute Italian guys but…
The piano guy (I really should get his name… and number), interrupted my thoughts,
“Would you do me the honor of dancing with me?” he asked.
I hadn’t even noticed but everyone was staring (I seriously need to work on noticing things; I would avoid a lot of embarrassment). I got an inkling that their stares are probably like the 16th century way of saying if you say no thank you, you will be a weirdo.
So of course I said, “It would be my pleasure,” (reply, complements of Jane Austen novels).
Seriously it is a good thing I’m into old novels because otherwise I’d be more lost than I already am. With this thought came an entire torrent of questions, but who could I ask. I’m not from this era or anything but I am pretty sure that asking what year it is constitutes as not normal behavior.
Then in my ear someone whispered, “July 22, 1564.” I looked around to see who had said that, when my eyes eventually settled back on piano guy as I finished my twirl. I realized it had been him (of course any normal person would have come up with that conclusion first, but no, not me). He was smiling at me like we both shared a secret, which apparently we did.
As he kept twirling me around he also talked:
“You’re probably wondering why you’re here at this place.”
Whoa, what happened to the proper Italian…?
“What date are you from?” he continued.
Replying shyly I said, “July 22, 2010. Why? And how’d…”
He cut me off “There’s no time for questions you came too late…”
Excuse moi, too late for what?
“… You have to leave before dawn break or you’ll be stuck here like me in this same year!”
“Are you for real?” There was no way this was real!
He responded with an exasperated sigh, “Would I lie to you?”
“Kay fine, but why do I have to leave? And from when are you, I can‘t believe this! I do… how do I leave?” I asked all at once.
Urgently, he responded, “Look I’m from 1998, you have to hurry all you have to do is leave this house and enter yours, I’ll help you find your way out but you have to hurry, now.”
As started to pull me towards the door and through the staircase, I asked him, “Why can’t you come with me if you’re stuck here too?”
“It’s already too late for today, but can I ask of you a favor?”
“Sure, course,” I said quickly.
“Here take this necklace,” he said putting a necklace around my neck, “to remind you of me for next year, come back at this exact date July 22, and enter the house at exactly 9pm and I’ll be waiting.”
Finally we were at the exit, and he warned me one last time, “Don’t stop running until you’re in your house otherwise it’s like you’re still in here… GO!”
Running as fast as I could I ran into grandma’s house and crawled into my bed. The last thing I saw before I went to sleep was piano boy’s face. I’d never even gotten his name! But my body was too exhausted to process anything else, once my head touched the pillow I didn’t last 2 seconds awake.
Of magic doors, there is this: You do not see them, even as you are
passing through, but you forever remember them after they are long past.
With a last parting quote Giselle closed her notebook and finished the tale of how her husband and she had first met. She laughed as she saw the mesmerized faces of her grandchildren as they all asked Grandpa Johnny if that was true. Johnny and Giselle locked eyes with a twinkle in their eyes, of memories past gone.
Together they answered, “Would we lie to you?”