Daily Prompt: Slog
As I packed the last of my smalls into the delicates pocket of my carry on, ‘well a girl can’t risk turning up in a new city without her underwear,’ Charlie asked what I would miss most about Venice. My answer was Mamma Balboni.
We met the very first day I awoke in my gorgeous rental apartment, a compact piece of furnished perfection that sat overlooking a narrow street in the Castello area of Venice. She smiled back at me jovially as I opened the window to let in the sweet morning air, already laced with the subtle aroma of fresh baked fette biscottate. Her greeting was a cheerful, ‘Buongiorno signorina.’
‘Buona signora mattina.’ I replied, with a wave.
I watched her as she worked steadily. With great care, she pegged meticulously cleaned laundry onto a clothesline that stretched between our two buildings. Reaching out as far as she could to make the line slide though a little pulley, moving each piece of clothing along to make room for the next. She made it look easier than it was.
Many times, the children playing in the narrow street below us would return an item of my clothing that had escaped as I tried to peg mine as swiftly and neatly as Mamma did hers. She would laugh with great delight at the look on my face as a top or slip floated to the ground, children squealing and laughing as they tried to catch it.
Our greetings and conversations became a daily routine. I would throw open my window at 7am each morning to say hello, and several times throughout the day we would chat (shout out) across the flapping sheets and shirts, usually when I needed a break from writing. Mamma Balboni wouldn’t stop though. Happily we would talk, while she continued to peg and I tried hard to perfect my Italian.
She was always there – putting washing on, taking washing off. All day long. The effort it took to do that would have been a slog for someone half her age. But she did it, without complaint, every day, for 20 000 lira a basket. She had become my touchstone, my home away from home.
As I placed my key in Charlie’s hand, preparing to leave, just one year after my arrival, I turned to the window and waved. My smile returned as Mamma Balboni continued her work; washing on, washing off. She paused only for the briefest moment to wave goodbye. With a tinge of sadness, knowing I would likely never see her again, I hugged Charlie, squeezing tight and whispered, “it doesn’t really matter where I go or how far I travel, it is the people I leave behind that I will always miss the most.”
I find writing to be a great escape from the busyness of life, which is why I enjoy playing with flash fiction when I have the time.
Having said that, the main focus at calliemm.com is to share awareness of the rare/uncommon cancer my husband Brendan has…