More of Bloom

February 9, 2010
Paul was about to say something but a voice interrupted him, “Bloom, are you out here?” It was Benny. Without even looking in a mirror, I knew I was smiling.

“Hey,” I said.

“Your dad said you were up here,” he said. He noticed Paul. “Am I interrupting something?”

“This is Paul,” I said.

“Nice to meet you,” Ben said like a gentleman and the two shook hands. It looked like Paul was squeezing Ben’s hand hard to make a point. It was hilarious especially since Ben is like me when it comes to those games. We don’t lose. They squeezed each other hands until the color left from their hands. Paul grimaced and let go. He walked away tending his wounds leaving Benny with a satisfied look on his face.

“You’re horrible,” I whispered laughing.

“He started it,” Benny said sitting next to me. “So he’s your ex, right.”

“Nope, just a crush who got crushed.”

“Been there, done that.”

“What was her name?”

“I’m not telling.”

I couldn’t help it but laugh. “You’re such a geek,” I said.

“I’m the geek who’s about to give you some bad news.” He said semi-meekly. Ben’s not the meek type.

“What,” I said. I had my upset face on.

“My parents want to meet you.”

“Why?” I said. “Haven’t they heard of me?”

“They want to meet Bloom Cross, the girl that has been dating their son for two months,” Benny said.

I closed my eyes. This was not happening. “You told me, and stop me if I’m wrong, that your parents would not care and that I would not have to meet them.”

“That’s what they said but I guess they feel that I’m less of a pessimistic cynic because of you and they want to meet the girl who did it.”

“This is cruel and unusual punishment,” I complained.

“What?” he asked. “It’s not like you have a show to go to.”

“So, true,” I agreed. “I have no life.” I sighed, “When and where?”

“Cartfield Opera House, I’ll pick you up at 7,” Ben said.

“Opera?” I asked. “Darn you, Ben.” I love opera. There was no way I was going to miss a chance to see an opera. I have very refined taste and yet, I’m a semi-slob with an anger problem. I’m complicated.

“I just figured if you’re going to meet my parents, I might add something to sweeten the deal,” he explained.

“You’re horrible,” I said narrowing my eyes.

“And that’s why you love me,” he said proud with himself.

“And I do love you.” I whispered.

“I love you, too,” he whispered back. He kissed me. I LOVE HIM! “7 o’clock,” he said. “Wear something fancy.”

“I’ll do my best,” I said kissing him again.

“You must be Bloom,” said Benny’s dad as he shook my hand.

“So nice to meet you,” I said. This is my first time ever feeling scared in the presence of new people and it’s your fault, Benny, I hope you’re proud of yourself.

“Please sit,” said Ben’s mom.

I sat shakily on the couch that was in the really fancy sitting room of the Estate the Contiellos had in America. Benny told me all about it on the drive up here. The happiness I had from seeing La Cenerentola, Gioachino Rossini interpretation of the original Cinderella fairytale, had all but vanished into thin air. I do not remember ever being this nervous. This was not fair.

“How was the opera, Bloom,” asked Benny’s mom.

“Exciting,” I replied. “La Cenerentola is one of my favorites and it was performed on such a large scale that the performance itself was simply exhilarating.” I was, for obvious reasons, on my best behavior.

“La Cenerentola is in Italian,” Benny’s dad said seeming very proud of his language and heritage. “Sapete Italiano, Miss Croce?” Since this book goes not have subtitles, I’ll translate. Benny’s dad said, You know Italian, Miss Cross. I’m fluent in Italian, in case you didn’t know.

I answered in Italian of course, “Sì, il linguaggio sempre interessato a me e quando abbiamo fatto un giro a Venezia, quando avevo 17 anni, ho pensato che sarebbe bene imparare fluentemente Italiano.” Yes, the language always interested me and when we toured in Venice when I was 17, I thought it would be good to learn Italian fluently.

Ben’s dad exclaimed, “Meraviglioso! Hai una donna fantastica giovani qui, figlio mio.” Wonderful! You have a fantastic young lady here, my son.

Benny replied with a small, “Sì, padre.” Yes, father.

Benny’s father was giddy with excitement as he went to go get us some refreshments. Ben’s mother followed after her husband.

“You know Italian?” Benny whispered to me.

“I would think that was obvious,” I said.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I thought you knew.”

“How would I have known?”

“That guy who came to get you that first day we met was speaking to you in Italian. I automatically translated for myself. I’m surprised you didn’t notice before now.”

“Me, too,” he said shaking his head woefully. “I am so slow.”

“You said it, not me,” I laughed. He pinched me slightly and I pinched him back. His parents returned with smiles on their faces.

“I have never seen Benvenuto smile that big,” said Benny’s mom. “You are surely a miracle worker, Miss Cross.”

“Not quite,” I said. “But thank you.”

“Why don’t you show Miss Cross the grounds? I’m sure she’d love to see it,” Benny’s mother said.

“Yes, I would,” I said smiling at Benny.

Benny had his arm around my shoulders as he escorted me around the ginormous house that was the Contiello Estate.

“This place is beautiful,” I said.

“You really think so,” he said. I nodded and we continued walking. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something that made me stop. “What?” Benvenuto asked concerned.

“Déjà vu,” I said. I looked around, everything seemed so familiar. “There’s a bedroom with blue curtains through that door, isn’t there?”

Benny opened the door and to his surprise I was right. I know what you’re thinking, I used my psychic powers. But since I met Benny I had stopped seeing what lies ahead and I had stopped wanting to see ahead. This case of ‘I’ve seen all of this before’ sort of threw me off.

“Were you here before?” Benny asked.

“That's no tpossible,” I said and then I saw him, a young Benvenuto, probably 15 years old, walking towards me.

“There you are, Esme,” he said. “You must stop this going off by yourself; your father will not be pleased.”

“I don’t care what father wants,” replied Esme who sounded like she was right behind me.

I spun around and saw a 13 year old girl sitting on the floor and she looked exactly like me at that age. Young Benny walked past me to sit next to young me. “What is going on?” I asked, uncertain if I really wanted the answer.

“You weren’t supposed to remember this quickly,” Benny replied. Before I could open my mouth He said, “Just watch.”

I looked back at young Benny and the young me who was called Esme. Esme was crying now. “I don’t want to marry Paul, Benvenuto. If I must marry, I’d rather marry you.”

“You are being too optimistic, my flower. Your father would never in this lifetime let us marry,” Young Benny said cheerlessly.

“Then we shall run away,” Esme offered.

“I would not marry you without your father’s blessing,” Young Benny said. For someone so young, he had some rigorous values.

“Please, Benny,” Esme pleaded. She looked desperate.

“I am but your Italian tutor,” Young Benny said somberly. He perked up for Esme’s sake. “You know what, I must miss your wedding because I have to go home to Italy for a couple of months but what should I bring back for a flower, my flower?”

Esme perked up quickly, “You get a flower other flowers of course. One of each flower you see.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” smiled Young Benny. “Then I’ll be back and we can continue your lessons even though your knowledge of the Italian language surpasses mine.”

“You are mad, Benvenuto,” Esme said. “You know you still have much to teach me.” And the two smiled at each other as if they were the only two people left on the planet. “Ti amo, Benvenuto,” Esme whispered. She said I love you, Benvenuto.

And young Benny replied, “Ti amo, Esme, per sempre.” I love you, Esme, forever. And the two disappeared before my eyes. I thought I would cry.

“Esme died,” Benvenuto explained. “She died at the hands of her husband.”

“Paul,” I whispered. “You didn’t get back in time, did you?”

“No. But I was able to give you the flowers, one of every flower I could see.”

“Me?” I asked even though it was obvious. “You can’t mean.”

“Don’t act surprised,” Benny said. “It was easy for you to pick up Italian because you already learned it. You have refined tastes, and you love classical music and opera. You steered clear of Paul without really knowing why. And face it, you look just like her.” I should’ve been surprised but I wasn’t, everything made so much more sense.

“So who was I?” I asked.

“You really want to know?” he asked seriously.

“No,” I replied. “I just want to know how this is possible.”

“I wanted to prove to your dad that if you were given the choice, you would’ve chosen me and you did,” he explained. “I didn’t make your choice for you and I didn’t do anything to Paul. Well, except for bruising his ego a little, but he’ll get over it.”

“So, what now, Count Contiello,” I replied.

“How should I know?” He said. “We haven’t gotten to that part of the story yet.”

I smiled and I started thinking that I would enjoy a future with my Italian Count, Benvenuto Contiello.

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