Here’s the thing…
Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.
I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.
But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.
Once again there’s a new installment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.
A little treasure!
After a hot day, it was now the middle of the night, still quite warm, but a thunderstorm had just passed and the sound of the residual rain on the tile roof and plants outside the windows was soothing.
Nadia stirred momentarily beside me, and although it was quite dark, I could see the outline of her body and had to resist the temptation of running my finger along the contours.
She was the most beautiful girl in the world to me and had made the transition from a nervous, even frightened, young man, into something I never thought I could be, and I loved her more than anything else in the world
It was nearly a year now since the events back home, and still, whenever I closed my eyes, all I could see was Boggs, wide-eyed and eager to find that missing treasure, not knowing it was a fruitless and eventually deadly quest, not only for him but everyone in his family.
And I still blamed myself for what happened.
Shortly after Mrs. Boggs last stand, she died. There had been a third bullet, one that the paramedics hadn’t detected, that eventually killed her, but from the last words I heard her speak, just before the paramedics took her to the hospital, it was clear she wanted to die.
I could understand that, and perhaps in the same place, I would too.
My mother was beside herself when she found out what happened, not only because Benderby was dead, and her chances of getting out of the poverty cycle swiftly taken away, but of what might have happened to me.
An alternative suitor, the sheriff, was off the table because of his actions, so it was a sorry sight to see her back where she had started, alone, and the mother of an inquisitive, impetuous young man who should be making something of himself.
Sadly, all I wanted to was crawl into a hole and stay there, not only because of my role in the whole mess, but the fact Nadia had inexplicably disappeared, nowhere to be found and not answering her phone.
To be honest, I was not surprised. Anyone in their right mind would not see me as anything but trouble.
The funeral of Boggs, and his mother, was a sad affair attended by seven people, the sheriff, Charlene, Rico, three women who had known her, and myself. It rained that day, with thunder and lightning of such ferocity, it was like God was making a statement.
So wrapped up in my grief I failed to notice a hand slipping into mine and a head leaning on my shoulder, until a whisper, “Sorry I’m late,” told me it was the missing girl of my dreams, Nadia.
I guess that was the first day of my new life.
Within a week, I left behind the last vestiges of my life in that dismal town and got on a very large airplane, for the first time in my life, heading for a new world, and new possibilities.
Nadia had made it all happen, not only for me, but also for my mother, who was reluctant at first, but warmed to the idea because I told her I was never coming back.
We moved to Italy, to a large vineyard in Tuscany, near a town with a funny name, though it wasn’t funny to those who lived there.
We lived with the other family members in a large villa in our own large room, in what used to be an old factory. Community and family were everything to these people, and when they realized Nadia loved me as much as I loved her, I and my mother became family, and it was like we always had been.
We had work, we had leisure, we had each other. The work was hard but satisfying. We got married and had a traditional wedding where the family all came to eat, drink, and be merry.
Life was, indeed, beautiful.
“Still having bad dreams?” A voice whispered in my ear.
Nadia was used to my restlessness.
“It’ll probably take a little more time, but I guess eventually I’ll get past it.”
Time, as they say, was supposed to heal all wounds. It was a belief I fervently wanted to believe.
“Perhaps what you need is something to take your mind off everything.”
I knew that voice, and Nadia at her most mischievous was something to behold.
“Oh, and what’s that?”
“Some news. I was waiting until our anniversary tomorrow, but I think now is the time.”
Nadia was one of those girls who had anniversaries for everything, first meeting, first kiss, first, well you get the idea. I was just trying to think of what this one was. Unfortunately, I was one of those boys who could never remember anything like that.
And over the last day or so, she had been particularly happy, for the first time since we arrived where she now called home. The problems with her parents, what happened to Vince although he was only a stepbrother, and the fallout from the treasure hunt, it had taken a toll she had tried very hard to hide.
Being home, among her real family, the wedding, the purpose, and the satisfaction of work helped, but we both had our demons to deal with, and each of us strived to help the other as much as we could.
But it was like something was missing, like that single sky piece in a jigsaw puzzle.
And then I knew.
© Charles Heath 2020-2022