Her Name Was Aprile, a novel by Elisa Barbaro at Spillwords.com

Her Name Was Aprile

I gave her my hand, saying a timid hello, pulling it back in a hurry, like I was afraid of catching a disease.
I needed to grow up. I was no longer in my village, where, in my opinion, normal people lived. This was the city.
Ruggero and Serafino were also enrolled at the same school as me. When the headmistress let us go, I looked for them, to exchange our first impressions.
I saw Meg approaching and would have liked to pretend I didn’t know her, but she was heading straight for us.
«So, who do we have here? Are they friends of yours?» She said, with a nod of her head to indicate my two friends.
Serafino and Ruggero looked at her in silence, with their mouths hanging open.
While she was sitting on the steps outside the gym, I hadn’t noticed how tall and thin she was.
The fact that she didn’t appeal to me, didn’t mean that she was an ugly girl, but only that it was difficult to make out her features under that mask. I noticed that she had a strange smell of plastic and it disturbed me.
«Don’t they talk either? Where do you come from?»
«From a village near here.» Ruggero dared to answer.
She raised her eyes to the sky without smiling and shook her head sarcastically. «I was joking. I didn’t really want to know where you live.» She looked at us with disdain and left without saying goodbye.
One morning we happened to leave school earlier than usual and took a different bus, on which I met Luna.
She was sitting two rows behind the driver’s seat, looking out of the window without paying attention to who was getting onto the bus. One of the straps of her sun-dress had slipped down, leaving her right shoulder bare. I thought it was strange that she wasn’t wearing a bra, so I looked at her chest in search of small breasts not yet in need of any support.
«I can sit here?»
She turned, checked out my appearance, nodded her head to say yes and carried on looking out of the window. I had been judged: I was reliable.
How much can you understand by just a glance?
I plucked up the courage to introduce myself and ask her name.
«Luna.» She replied, smiling at me.
Her green eyes looked into mine for a few extra seconds, just long enough to let a boy think that there might be a future for them together.
She was thirteen years old, but I knew that we would be together for the rest of our lives and that I would wake up every morning to the delicate fragrance of her hair, which smelt of roses.
She had the round face of a child and long golden hair, like the light at sunset.
She lived in a village near mine and, for the next few months, I rode my bicycle to see her every afternoon.
«Grandma, I have met the woman of my life.»
«Here we go again», Matteo commented.
«So, what’s she like? Tell me.» My grandmother asked, ignoring my brother’s comment.
«She’s beautiful. She looks like an angel. She’s thirteen years old and lives near here. One day I’ll introduce her to you.»
With the coming of winter, Luna’s mother wanted to meet me. They lived in a little, but comfortable apartment on the second floor of a small building.
«Good evening Mrs Prestipino. I’m Tommaso.»
«Do come in. Make yourself at home. I’ll make some hot chocolate.»
A small wood heater warmed the kitchen. Luna’s mother was very beautiful, just like her daughter. She had green eyes and long blonde hair that framed her childlike face.
I looked at the woman, imagining Luna at her age and dreaming about the two of us in a house, with our children running around and playing tag.
«Tell me Tommaso, do you like your school?»
I told Mrs Prestipino about my schoolmates, the teachers and my family. It was a pleasant conversation. Luna was smiling and I felt relaxed. The afternoon flew by in a flash.
«Why don’t you show him your room?»
I followed Luna to her room. She left the door open, and we stood for a few minutes.
The walls were pink and there were soft toys on the bed. There was a bedspread with a Cinderella design on it, dolls on the shelves, two posters of cartoons on the wall and pretty white lace curtains at the windows.
«Your room is lovely.»
Luna said nothing. She was embarrassed, just like I was. It had been easy chatting with her mother. Now we were alone, standing here awkwardly like two children.
«Your mother is fantastic.» I tried to break the silence.
«Yes, I know. She’s liked by everyone… oh yes, she certainly is.»
I wondered about that extra piece added at the end of the sentence and how many subtle meanings could be given to it? Luna was an insecure child and having a mother that everyone adored did nothing to strengthen her self-esteem.
Can a person be blamed for being beautiful? Who would ever think that beauty can be a problem? I have met a few solitary girls, who were too beautiful to be accepted by their friends or to have a boyfriend.
Mrs Prestipino shook my hand at the front door of the house, before going back inside, leaving me alone with Luna and giving us a few more minutes of privacy. We hugged, as we always did when we said good-bye, with my face in her sweet-smelling hair and her head on my chest. Who knows what smell women perceived when they were close to me.
A hug can be even more unforgettable than a kiss. Two bodies holding each other tight, warmth passing between them, the sensation of her skin, her smell becoming impressed in your memory, your arms protecting her, stopping her from going away.
The following spring, our love was stronger than ever, and I decided to introduce her to my mother.
That was probably the worst idea I had ever had.
The shy Luna came into my house, light as a gentle breeze. My grandmother welcomed her with a smile and sat her down in the kitchen.
«Would you like some ice cream?» She asked gently.
«Yes, please ma’am.»

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