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Authors: Manuela Pigna

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BOOK: Training in Love
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2.

 

The
next day, Sunday, I wake up with a burst of energy. At noon… ok… but still with
a burst of energy and convinced of moving right away in the right direction to
achieve my goals. For the first time in my life I will ask for help, since I
have never managed to accomplish anything on my own.

I
go into the kitchen and find a plate of salad in my place at table, while my
mother is finishing hers.  Right… I sure won’t be asking her for help.

“Hi
honey.”

I’d
like to laugh in her face, but I check myself.

“Hi
Mom,” I begin in a flat voice.

As
usual, when my mother is at home - that is on Sunday - she cooks the most
low-cal things she can think of, in hopes of slimming me down with the two
meals a week she prepares.

My
mother, who is the director of a weekly magazine dedicated to fashion, thinks
that she is a model herself. And the worst thing that could happen to her is to
have a fat daughter. All my life she has never made a secret of wanting to see
me lose weight, and if the decision I made last night weren’t extremely solid
and epochal, in this moment, standing before her gaunt cheeks and the undressed
salad she offers me every Sunday, that decision would be thrown into the sea,
just to spite her, just to annoy her. The problem, however, is that I’m not
fifteen anymore, I’m twenty-five and I cannot
not
live my life to the
fullest - or at least the way I want to - just to tick off my mother.

“How
did the week go?” She asks me to play the part of the concerned mother, when
really, Monday through Saturday we hardly ever see each other. At best we cross
paths.

“Fine,”
I answer, trying to keep my tone indifferent, but which conveys my total lack
of desire to make conversation.

“You
came back early last night.”

After
the movie I came right home because my head was boiling with ideas and I wanted
to get busy immediately with my new project, organizing in the silence of the
night and the solitude of my room a plan of attack. I shrug my shoulders,
without participating in the conversation in any useful way.

“Who
was that boy who brought you home?”

I
look up quickly, surprised.

My
mother shrugs her shoulders and, taking the last forkful of salad adds, “I
couldn’t sleep last night, and when I heard a car in the driveway I looked out
the window.”

I
had gone to the twins’ house with Linda, then, stupidly, we only remembered
once we were there that she was going to stay over. We wanted to come right
back to get my car, but Marco said it wasn’t a problem for him to take me home.
Then Nic and Gianca showed up and Gianca ended up taking me home, for practical
reasons. Needless to say, nothing happened, but he was sweet and friendly the
whole way.  “No one. A friend of the twins,” I answer, a little on the
defensive. Not only do I not want to ask her for any kind of help, I don’t want
her to even know anything about it - not about Gianca, not about my plans.
She’ll already be happy enough when she sees me lose weight.

She
puts the fork down in the plate, leans back against the chair and lifts both
eyebrows. “I know it was
no-one
Olly. No boy would go out with you in
that sense. At least not while you continue to keep that sort of fleshy armor
on you.” She observes me coldly. “I only wanted to know who accompanied my
daughter home. The world is full of crazies.”

I
grit my teeth and look at my plate. I take the oil and the salt and start to
dress my salad. I don’t answer.

“If,
by any chance, you decided to lose a few kilos, going to that house all the
time maybe you could manage to attract the attention of the other twin, the
free one. The Bonaventuras are full of money.”

I
drop my fork and glare at her.

“As
it is, it’s obviously impossible,” she continues as though she were carrying on
a conversation which was pleasant for both of us. “You can tell by the fact
that… How long is it you’ve been spending more time at their house than at your
own? Four years? Five?”

I
don’t answer.

“And
in all these years nothing has happened, so… Not that it’s a given that you’d
manage to catch someone like that even slimming down. That’s another whole
level. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him show up in the newsroom one day, with
one of my girls.”

“Have
you finished?” I say indifferently, but inside I’m bleeding. I instantly have
the desire to eat an entire ox, but I have to think of my life,
of my life
.
I have to think of Gianca. Of when we’ll go snowboarding together. Maybe we’ll
even go to live together someday, so I don’t have to put up with this kind of
conversation on a Sunday morning.

“I
still have to drink my coffee,” she answers calmly.

I
get up and walk towards the door. “Call me when you’ve finished.”

“I
never get to speak with you!” She yells after me as I walk towards my bedroom.

***

Around
six in the afternoon I go to the twins’ house. I know, again! But Linda is
still there and I absolutely want to talk with her.

When
I arrive, Marco opens the door. “She’s in the bedroom. She’s all yours for the
next twenty minutes. I’m going to take a shower.”

I
gaze at him, trying to communicate with my eyes just how sorry I feel to always
be underfoot. “By the time you get out I’ll already be gone, I promise!”

He
chuckles and ruffles my hair. “You have to quit it Olly! You are not bothering
me! And you’re the most discreet best friend that I’ve ever met.”

I
look at him astonished. “Really? There’s someone who bugged you more than me?”

He
laughs. “You don’t bug me silly girl!”

“But
I’m always here!” I answer uncertain. Over the years I have noticed more and
more just how kind and what a really good guy Marco is, something I never would
have thought when I saw him from afar in high school, with his aura of the dark
and brooding type. But seriously, I figured that he felt a certain amount of
irritation seeing my face almost continually.

He
chuckles. “You leave when you should, if you know what I mean, and you don’t
get mad when Linda dumps you to do something with me. That’s paradise for me.”

“Yeah…”
I say, not particularly convinced, but smiling at him. I hope they never break
up. Linda deserves someone like him. I walk towards his room and hear him going
in the direction of the downstairs bathroom. The twins’ house would make one of
those people from MTV Cribs go pale. It’s no wonder we’re always at their
house.

I
climb the stairs to the next floor, the floor where the bedrooms are (there are
around ten, and I’m not exaggerating) following the path that by now I know
well towards the room all the way to the right, Marco’s. Nic’s room is
opposite, despite there being something like another eight bedrooms empty they
decided to be close together. There’s a bathroom between the two rooms which
they share. Their parents’ bedroom is all the way to the left coming up the
stairs and the house is simply so large that it really seems as though they
live alone.

I
knock a couple of times on the open door. “May I?” I ask brightly.

Linda
is at the desk, doing something on Marco’s computer. At the sound of my voice
she turns suddenly, smiling, with rosy cheeks and shining eyes. “Hi Olly!”

Linda
has been my best friend forever, not only because being neighbors we grew up
together, but because we just clicked. We have the same tastes in almost
everything, we think the same things about almost everything, we have fun with
the same things and love doing the same things. We have the same concept of
friendship, that is, we are sincere and loyal towards each other. We’re tied by
a deep and lasting affection, an affection solidified by all the years we’ve
spent side by side. We also went to the same schools and were, miraculously, in
the same classrooms from the first grade to the last year of high school. We
took different roads only with regards to college. I chose modern literature,
she chose languages. I finished last December, she’s finishing now and plans on
graduating in July of this year.

“What
did you want to talk to me about? I’m all ears!”

I
would tell anything to Linda, I
have
told everything to Linda. She knows
all my secrets, but I trust her blindly.

“Last
night I came to a decision.”

She
nods, rocking the chair.

“I’ve
decided I want to lose weight.”

She
stops and regards me. After a couple of seconds she says – direct and sincere
as always – “This isn’t the first time you’ve decided something like that…”

“Yes,
I know, but this time it’s different,” and I tell her everything I’ve thought
about during the night.

She
observes me, concentrating, giving me her complete attention and without
laughing at my contorted and maybe a little absurd reasoning.

“It
makes sense,” she decrees at the end. “So, you like Gianca?” She then asks.

I
nod quickly. I tell Linda everything. Always.

“Hmmm.”

“Why
‘hmmm’?” I ask, surprised.

“Because
he didn’t make a huge impression on me, to be honest. Quite the opposite.”

“Really?”
I ask bewildered.

She
gets up from the chair nodding and coming towards me, takes my hand and sits me
down on Marco’s bed and sits beside me. “Yes, and really, I’m surprised that he
made a good impression on you -  usually we have the same sensations about
people…”

It’s
true. This is the first time that we don’t agree. All I’ve been thinking about
are his blue eyes and white smile. “What impression did you get?” I ask
intrigued.

“Falseness.”

I’m
blown away. I didn’t get that at all.

I’m
about to add something when she stops me. “Anyway,” she continues, “forget
Giancarlo for a second and let’s talk about your revelation and about losing
weight instead. What do you plan on doing?”

“That’s
exactly why I’m here,” I answer, once again excited about the project that will
change my life. “This time I’m serious, and since, up to now, I’ve never been
able to do it alone, I want to ask for help.”

“In
what sense?”

“I
want to find a dietitian, a nutritionist, a psychologist - anyone who can help
me do this.”

“Oh!”
Linda lights up. “Great idea.”

“Yeah.
The problem is that I don’t know anyone, and obviously I don’t want to ask
anything from my mother even if she would find me the
crème de la crème
of
dietitians. Ha! She probably has the phone number already in her wallet…”

“No,
of course, I understand completely,” she answers, rolling her eyes.

“Do
you know someone? Or maybe you’ve heard your mother talk about someone?” I ask
hopefully, asking her what I came all that way to ask in the first place.

She
shakes her head even before I finish the question. “No, off the top of my head
I can’t think of anyone.” She bites her lower lip and begins to stare at Marco’s
white comforter. I do the same thing myself until the owner of said comforter
comes into the room wearing a grey track suit with his hair still wet and says,
furrowing his brow, “What the hell is happening? This silence in a room with
you two… it worries me more than a little!”.

I
laugh at the same time that Linda says, “We were thinking…” Then she turns to
me, “Can I tell him?”

I
answer, “Yes, but only…” I leave the sentence hanging, pointing two fingers in
the direction of my body and telepathically transmit the second part of the
phrase, that is “only about losing weight, not that I like Gianca.”

Linda,
of course, understands immediately and nods, then turning towards Marco, “Olly
wants to lose weight.”

Marco
tilts his head slightly back, seems a little surprised, then turns to me and a
slow smile plays across his full lips. His teeth are white and even, a dimple
appears on his right cheek, now slightly darkened by five-o-clock shadow. His
eyes, wide and dark enough to seem black, also shine with a quiet smile. He is
tall and fit and his olive skin makes his white teeth stand out even more. He’s
the sort of boy who looks good in anything, but maybe, looking casual as he
does now is what suits him best. His hair, black as ink, is short but not too
much so – he has a haircut I’d call ‘normal’, whereas Nic, at the moment, has a
sort of miniscule Mohawk, let’s say short hair in the middle and shaved on both
sides. Physically they are identical, including the dimple, but… perhaps Nic’s
gaze and smile are a little more…
mischievous
.

“Fine,”
he says slowly and with a mysterious air after a second.

“We
were thinking of who to ask….” Linda continues pensive.

Marco
goes to sit beside her. “Ask who what?”

Instantly
embarrassed, I stand up and head for the door. As soon as I can, I’m leaving.

BOOK: Training in Love
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