The stylus of the record player ran through the mute groove of the vinyl, emphasizing the silence with a rustle. Luca sat in the armchair in front of the stereo, his gaze fixed on the vinyl record that kept spinning, his right hand still holding the phone close to his ear. He stretched out his arm and dropped the phone on the windowsill, motionlessly contemplating the void until the last sunbeam ceased to filter through the glass; it was already dark when he switched on the lamp next to the armchair and stood up. He grasped the stylus lever between his index and middle finger, lifted the tonearm, and positioned the stylus at the beginning of the first track. Only then did he glance at the shelf just above the stereo, looking for the photo in the walnut frame of him embracing a red-haired girl. Luca brushed the picture – brushed her – with a finger, then took the frame and clutched it while the notes of Who Wants to Live Forever finally broke the silence.
A meadow, an oak tree, two motionless silhouettes standing out against the low autumn sun. White shirt, black tie, and suit, hands crossed at belt level. Eyes turned to the ground.
“Thanks for being here with me,” Luca murmurs without lifting his gaze.
Marco turns his head towards him. “Where else would I be?” he cracks a faint smile. “Are you ready?”
Luca rotates his left wrist and peeks at the hands of the watch. “Yes, it’s almost five: it’s time,” he declares, turning back to Marco. “She’s probably said ‘I do’ by now, or whatever people say.”
In front of them, a shovel stuck in the ground and a small pit, where a black briefcase rests. Open. Empty. Right next to it, a blue sailor bag with yellow writing: USCSS Nostromo.
“I still can’t fathom it. After all this time, why call to tell you she’s getting married?” reflects Marco.
“I think it was her way of telling me that she has moved on, and so should I.”
“Then do it,” Marco urges.
Luca nods, bends on his knees, pulls a walnut frame out of the bag, and gently places it inside the briefcase.
“I took that photo. We were at the Lucca Comics cosplay contest,” Marco recalls. “You looked like two children. You bought everything and more: we couldn’t fit in the car anymore on the way back. You were so happy.”
“Yeah. That was the day we got together. A passion born from another passion. But neither was enough.”
Luca sinks his hand into the bag and, this time, pulls out a golden ring with a red engraving; the graphemes are those of the Black Speech of Mordor. “I gave it to her for our first anniversary. She would never take it off. She was my Lady of the Ring. She gave it back to me when she left the house with the last box,” he murmurs as he places it in the briefcase. He stares at it for a few seconds, then continues: “One more thing.”
Marco cannot take it and looks away as Luca lifts a grey baby onesie with both hands and unfolds it to show black writing: I am a Jedi, like my father before me. “I bought it online the moment she told me she was pregnant. It arrived a few days before she found out she had lost the baby.”
Luca places the onesie inside the briefcase, closes it, and turns the wheels of the two combination locks on either side of the handle. He rests his palm on it for a final goodbye, then stands up and grips the handle of the shovel; he hesitates only for a few moments before pulling it out of the ground. One handful of soil at a time, and the briefcase vanishes from sight.
“The cross!” Marco reminds. “I’ll take care of it.” He leans over the bag and pulls from it a sword over three feet long, hilt with a leather-covered grip and straight-armed guard with a semicircle in the center that reaches out over the blade. Within the semicircle, an engraving stands out: MacLeod. “Here,” he announces, thrusting it into the ground. “The Highlands way.”
Luca lingers on the dusk mirrored in the blade, then pulls a note from his jacket pocket – at the top corners, there is a jute cord knotted with two holes – and hangs it on the hilt. A black marker writing stands out against the light background.
Here lies my love for Laura. Not because it is over, but because I must move on.
“Would you like to say a few words?” asks Marco.
Luca turns to watch the sunset. “Imagine how nice it would be if there were two suns like on Tatooine,” he says. And he smiles.
Loredano Cafaro lives in the hills of Turin, Italy, with his wife and their two sons. In the little free time left to him by his work as a computer scientist, every now and then he imagines stories. Sometimes he writes them down. His fiction has appeared in The Dillydoun Review, Speculative Fiction in Translation, Literally Stories, Spillwords, On the Run, The Closed Eye Open, The Zodiac Review, and elsewhere.