An Eternal Beginning
Liza loved peanut butter, especially when mixed with blueberry jam. She ate tubs of it.
She sat back from her kitchen table and propped her legs high on the chair next to her, while she gazed out at the graveled stone path surrounded by grass through her colossal kitchen window. The bottom of her feet itched, and she folded her legs over one another so that she could scratch the bottom of one foot against the other.
The small round bowl of peanut butter and blueberry jam she concocted lay in her lap, and she gathered enough to spread on one of the bagels that were lying on her bread and butter plate before her.
"I love peanut butter-jammy mix on bagels," she said, talking to herself as she gazed out of her window.
Having turned sixty in August, she had lived alone most of her life except for the time she and Celso were together. Marriage to him had winked at her at the age of fifty-five, but she’d ignored the wink. His chosen career had increased her heartbeats every time he went underground on one of his team’s secret missions. It brought her sleepless nights and rings around her eyes in the mornings. His age had also provoked fearful thoughts of him one day leaving her. Falling into a deep hole, she would be a basket case no longer able to put herself back together again.
The headlights of a car shone through her huge kitchen window, and she turned to her left to look at the clock hanging over the refrigerator.
She frowned. It was ten-thirty in the evening and one of the darkest winter nights in Southern Italy. No one visited her after nine o’clock. She got up and walked out of her kitchen and into her hallway where her weapon cabinet stood and pulled the key out of the drawer beneath it and opened the door. She took out Lucy, her rifle, and insured herself that it was loaded. As an ExPat African-American, she lived excluded in her village, and she had applied for a license to possess a weapon in her home when she moved there. She smiled as a memory of Celso surfaced. He had taught her how to protect herself. He insisted upon it because of his job. He told her she had become his woman, and everyone knew it, including the criminals that he hunted down in the dark world where he worked.
The car stopped, and Liza’s heart picked up its beat. She asked herself who would dare visit her after nine, as she returned to the kitchen with her trusted friend Lucy in her hand. In the afternoon, one of her neighbors had stopped by and warned her of a stranger in their little old Italian village who walked into the café bar showing a picture of her and asking questions. He said he didn’t give his name and walked out after he was told where she lived. She wondered if Celso’s clientele was trying to track her down.
With the rifle in her hand, she waited for the knock, ready to fire, if whoever it was meant ill toward her.
The knock came, not with a hardness that sounded like someone trying to knock down her door. Nor did it sound like a fragile knock coming from a woman’s hand. It was a strong, confident knock.
“Who are you?” Liza called out. Her rifle pointed toward the door.
"It’s me, Liza. Open the door."
Like a short burst of rain from a cloud, Liza burst into laughter.
"Celso?” She hastened to the door to open it. “How did you find me?" Standing before him with her hand on the doorknob and the rifle in the other.
"If you don't mind, Tresore Mio, I'd appreciate you putting that thing aside," he said, pointing at her rifle with a smile plastered on his face.
"Of course. Come on in." And she stepped aside so he could pass by.
She walked to the hallway to put her rifle back in her weapon cabinet with Celso following behind her.
"My neighbor said someone was asking about me in the café bar, but I never thought it could be you, Celso." She said as she placed the rifle back in its proper place and locked the door. She turned and looked up into Celso’s watery eyes. What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Come here,” he said, opening his arms. “Let me hug you.”
Hurriedly, she rushed into his opened arms. “It’s been so long, Celso.”
“Too long. I shouldn’t have let your fear separate us, but I was too immature to understand, then. Your rejection made me want to hurt you,” he said, and then he planted butterfly kisses on Liza’s cheeks before capturing her mouth in a tender kiss. “We have unfinished business to take care of," he said, breaking the kiss.
"It’s not unfinished,” Liza said, shaking her head. “You got your answer, five years ago."
"An answer born out of your fear, Liza."
"So, you can read my mind?"
"Never could, but I felt you were lying to me, and I let you go because I didn't possess the maturity to fight you and your fear. When you told me to leave, I obeyed like a whipped dog and left."
"Then, why are you here now?"
"Because I'm no longer a whipped dog.”
Liza regarded Celso. His sea green eyes mirrored sadness that matched her feeling of loss. The long zigzagged zipper scar running down his cheekbone he hadn't had, and he was much thinner than when they were together.
"When did you get the scar?" She asked.
"Nine months ago.”
She let out a deep sigh and shut her eyes as she tried to stop her tears from overflowing.
"Don't cry,” Celso said, reaching out to touch her cheekbone. “This hideous scar brought me out of the lethargy that's hung over my life the last five years."
"Celso, I am a recluse. Outside of our hormones pulling us toward each other, what else do we have in common?"
"For one, I love your reclusiveness, Liza. And your age and nothing else has ever bothered me. You know that. I need you in my life, permanently. Besides, our love for music, reading, and walking has to count for something and that hormone attraction that you mentioned counts for us instead of against us."
“Shh…Don’t say no, Liza. Life is incalculable. Let’s not waste time not loving each other. No one walking on this earth knows when they're going to die. Let’s wake up to a new tomorrow for the both of us."
"You haven't lost your touch of persuasion, Celso."
"Last time, it worked against me."
"Last time, I wanted to end it. I was afraid." And Liza laid her head against his chest. Recognizing that she had been given a chance to cross the same crossroad again in a different place and time, she knew what she would do if Celso asked her again.
“Let’s come together for the eternal beginning of us, Liza,” Celso said, softly.
Liza lifted her head and raised herself upward to kiss the zigzagged scar running down his cheek. “To our eternal beginning,” she mumbled against his scar, with thankfulness toward Providence.
Tomorrow is the Third Advent Sunday and after it, we will start approaching the Fourth Advent Sunday. I would like to say thank you to all who have supported me this year by reading my Flash Fiction on the WEP. You have played a great role in my stepping up to the plate every time WEP rolled around, and it is important to me that you know this. In a world where love and appreciation is growing colder every day, I feel it is essential that we express our thanks to people who are genuine regarding us and also give us the impetus to keep moving as we fulfil our destiny. You all have been a part of the fuel that has helped me keep moving forward, one foot after the other.
Have a Merry Christmas and crossover safely into 2018. It's going to be a great year.