Where She Has Gone

Where She Has Gone by Nino Ricci Read Free Book Online

Book: Where She Has Gone by Nino Ricci Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nino Ricci
oversized blue parka I remembered from her high-school days, gone a bit ragged now.
    “Not at all. Really. Come in.”
    We stood shyly at the door while she took off her things.
    “Have you had any breakfast?”
    “Actually, no.”
    “I’ll make you some.”
    She settled herself at the kitchen table near the rad while I started breakfast, huddling up against the heat. The sun coming in through the window there lit bits of orange and red in her hair.
    “I wanted to say I was sorry again. About last night. I didn’t mean to break down like that.”
    “Don’t mention it.”
    She had pulled her legs up on the chair, had pulled her hands up into the floppy sleeves of her sweater. I had the sense I could have whisked her up from where she sat, this economical package she’d hunched down to, and hardly felt the weight of her. I remembered her as a baby, how hopelessly tiny her limbs had been then, how soft the underside of her head, how I’d been afraid of breaking her each time I’d held her.
    “I hope you and Elena can work this thing out,” I said. “Maybe if you talked to her about it.”
    “She’s not that easy to talk to these days.”
    “I guess you’re right.”
    We ate in the kitchen. The heat from the stove and the rad had made the room steamy.
    “Do you have any plans for the day? I mean, apart from the market.”
    “Oh. That wasn’t anything important.”
    From the moment she’d arrived it had seemed that there was some tone between us that would have been the right one, but we hadn’t found it yet.
    “We could go for a drive if you wanted.”
    I had tried to put this offhandedly but still felt infected by the intimacy of the previous evening, the memory of holding her in my arms.
    “Actually,” she said, “that would be very nice.”
    We set out early in the afternoon. Almost as a kind of joke, we’d settled on driving down to Niagara Falls – Rita had never been there before, though it had been a regular destination for people from Mersea.
    “I remember that film,” she said. “With Marilyn Monroe. The one where her boat is drifting toward the edge of the falls.”
    The weather had turned overnight to a brittle cold, the city streets skinned over with an unmelting slick of icy wet from the previous evening’s snow. But out on the outskirts, the cold seemed to have sucked the roads dry. We followed the expressway through the built-up outer suburbs – they stretched unbroken for miles, a string of quaint-sounding older communities, Streetsville, Port Credit, Lorne Park, that had slowly been swallowed up by the city, their sea of snow-covered roofs just visible above the sound walls that lined the expressway. Further out, the houses gave way to warehouses, silver-glassed office buildings, the occasional factory sitting desolate amid fields of asphalt or snowy rubble. Watching the landscape fly by us from the warmth of the car put me in mind of the Sunday afternoons that Rita and I used to spend alone watching TV when we were small, Rita cradled against me in my father’s armchair in the living room’s sheltering warmth while outside it was winter and cold.
    Past Hamilton I veered off onto a secondary highway. We were in open country now, the road flanked by grey-limbed orchards and by the orderly rows of a crop I couldn’t place at first: vineyards. It was strange to see grapevines in that flat, snowbound countryside, frozen there in their rows by the bright cold like startled pilgrims.
    “Almost like home,” I said, but then, seeing that Rita hadn’t understood, added, “The vineyards. Like Italy.”
    “Oh.” We seldom spoke about Italy. Sometimes it would come to me to share some memory with her, but then the instant I’d try to put it into words it would seem false. “Iguess you made your own wine and all that, when you were there.”
    “To tell you the truth I can’t remember,” I said, and laughed.
    “When I was in England, I kept imagining that that was what Italy

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