I have no preamble today, just chapter 9... enjoy.
Cali’s head was spinning. “How long have you known that I was coming here?”
“I suspected that you might make it here, oh about 15 years ago now.” She saw the look of disbelief on Cali’s face. “It was right after your family was brought here… at your request.”
“I didn’t ask for them to be brought here!”
“No, you asked a mobster to take care of them, and then you walked away.” She filled a glass with wine and set it before Cali. “I don’t blame you for what you did. No one really blames you… well with one exception. But, she’s just jealous. The others well… your brother never gave you a second thought, your father… you already know what he thought, and Lilly, was more concerned about her own situation to be concerned about you. Honestly child, she didn’t think about you when you lived with her. What makes you think she bothered to think of you as a ghost? You should know better than that.”
Of all that Nonna had said Cali had heard only one thing. “Monica, is jealous of me?” Cali couldn’t believe it.
Nonna was not moved by Cali’s single mindedness. The child was woefully short of information. She had been running on intuition, and luck for far too long. She’s lucky to still be alive… let alone sane. “Of course she is my dear. You took her your father’s love from her. You blocked every attempt that she made to gain that love. Then you mocked him and hated him for giving you the love that she so desperately wanted. On top of that, you managed to keep your mother at your side, despite the fact that she should have moved on. Then you convinced a man, a powerful man, to do your bidding and finally remove her from ever having the possibility of gaining her father’s love. Her entire life was ruined because of you.” Cali’s face told Nonna that she had not made her point. “Because of you she will never feel his love, as you did. Because of you she will never have her mother’s attention, like you did, and because of you she must now live her life in a foreign country, never to see home again. Yes Calisto, she is jealous of you, and all that you had, that she never did.”
Cali drained the glass of wine. She had never thought of it like that. She had only been protecting Monica. How was she supposed to know that Monica actually wanted all of that? The girl was sick. “Does insanity run in our family?”
“Possibly, your grandmother was insane, and she did blame you for everything. But oddly enough, from what I can gather, she was proud of you when you killed her.”
That comment made Cali rub her face with her hand and refill her glass, only to drain it and refill it again. “Oh good God.” She mumbled between her fingers and swallows of wine.
“Your aunt is also completely unhinged. She however, was driven over the edge… just as your father was taught to act like he did.” She took a few sips of her own wine. “Never fear child. You are perfectly normal.”
Normal… perfectly normal… what’s that? Cali began to laugh. It started slow and built into an almost hysterical laugh. But, before it broke her she began to cry, and through the tears she continued to laugh. She grabbed her head with her hands and doubled over. The laughing stopped. The tears continued to pour. Her head was on her knees. Suddenly she surged to her feet, knocking over her chair. She stood up straight, threw her head back and screamed. Her hands shot out to her side and she pulled her head down to look back at Nonna. “This” She slapped her chest with a hand. “This is not normal! I am not normal!” Her face contorted into a mask of anger and self-loathing. “If Monica had wanted it, she could have had it. I would have gladly walked away.” Spittle ran down her chin. Every muscle in her body was taunt. She was a rubber band stretched to her limits. Would she spring or snap, that was the question.
Meanwhile Nonna sat drinking her wine, completely unmoved by the show. That was how she wanted to appear anyway. Inside she could see the great pain on Cali’s face, and she cursed the people that had hurt her so much. Now, I understand why you want me to help her. She calmly refilled her wine. Normally, she would not have finished one glass, but this child had already driven her to down three of them. She’s worth it. I know she is.
Suddenly, just as it had started, Cali collapsed onto her knees. If the wrong people had been watching they would have imagined that she had been possessed. In a way she had been. But, she had not been possessed of an evil Demon, but rather of a Demon from her past. The kind that she was always trying to keep chained inside of her soul. She had been seized by a Demon of despair, loneliness and self-hatred. Now the tears that fell were of release. It had been a very long time since she had allowed that to happen. Perhaps it was the wine.
Cali was afraid to look up. Only Connie had ever seen her melt down before. She had just met Nonna. Shame threatened to keep her captive. “Good God, what was I thinking?” She had not meant to speak, and honestly did not realize that she had… until Nonna spoke.
“I think, that you were thinking, that you were safe here…and you are.”
Cali looked up to see Nonna on a knee in front of her, offering to help her to her feet. She didn’t know what to do. Without thought, she stuck her hand out and the old woman took it. Her grip was strong from long years of tending crops and animals. Before she knew it Nonna had stepped in beside her and lifted her from the ground. Her face must have shown shock,because Nonna chuckled.
“Do you think that you are the only injured foal that I have helped to her feet?” Nonna deposited Cali into her chair and pushed a glass of wine in front of her. “Drink, you need your strength.”
She looked at the glass but did not touch it. “Perhaps I have already had too much.” Her voice was weak and hesitant. The strength that washer mask had been stripped from her. Cali was exposed and afraid.
“You run from alcohol because it is harder for you to control the Demons if you drink too much. I understand, and I applaud your ability to maintain control. But, as you know, keeping something so volatile bottled up, only leads to big explosions when it does find a crack in your armor.”
“What do you suggest? Should I get drunk regularly just to release the pressure? Or should I just give up and become an alcoholic?” Anger was her only strength now.
Nonna’s forehead furrowed. “Don’t, talk like a child! I’ll not have your petulance muddying the waters here.” She inched the glass closer. Her face calmed. “Now, drink and relax. We need to work on killing those Demons, and healing the wounds.”
Cali couldn’t help it. Her head snapped up. Nonna had seized her attention in an iron fist. Who is this woman?
Nonna chuckled again. “Well, why else did you think you came to Italy, certainly not to chase ghosts that are not here?” She chuckled again, while Cali had another swallow of wine.
Now where shall I take her?
Live well and be good to each other.