“We dream of a brand new start, but we dream in the dark for the most part. Dark as a tomb where it happens, I’ve gotta be in the room where it happens.”
The dining room had earned itself a fresh coat of paint since the last time Adriana had seen it. It was an off white color, the type of white that turned into a pale yellow the longer you looked at it. In reality, it wasn’t that bright, but it was a stark contrast to the darkish green Adriana had grown up with. Of course, over time that paint would peel and reveal a lighter green Giovanna would deem “too bright,” but she never made a move to repaint it.
Of course, now it was an even lighter color. A color that hurt Adriana’s eyes the longer she stared at it, wondering if the yellow would transform darker if she focused on it more. At least both contrasted the mahogany table, a red so earthy Adriana could almost smell the wood off of it, despite its many years trapped under a thin layer of glass.
The old table rattled, as Eva picked up her fork and started scraping against her plate, breaking the silence.
“Oh, would you stop it already?”, a loud voice from the other side of the table said through a heavy sigh. “Honestly, Maria. Teach your daughter better manners.”
“Alice, she’s eight,” another, deeper voice said from somewhere closer to Adriana. It was the voice of her brother, Carlo. They were close growing up, but these days spent more time apart then together. “Give her a break.”
From the corner of the mahogany table, Alice frowned, politely wiping her face with a lace trimmed napkin. “I wasn’t speaking to you, Carlo, I was speaking to Maria.”
To Adriana’s left sat Maria, a young woman who had just married into the family. As soon as Adriana had seen where she was seated, she knew that Alice was angry with her. Everyone on Alice’s bad side sat to the top end of the table. Maria was on the very end. Adriana was next to her.
Maria seemed like a perfectly nice woman, around Adriana’s age. Her daughter, Eva, despite her bad table manners, seemed perfectly nice, too. Adriana wasn’t particularly close with Maria’s husband, but she knew that they had Eva before they were married, and therefore were on Alice’s bad side before she had met her.
As for herself, Adriana had moved from Italy to the United States the previous year, after spending a few years going back and forth so she could still work at her job in Rome. Her sister must have leaked the information that she was moving there full time. Alessa wasn’t always the most trusted secret keeper.
Eva frowned, and started to rub her eyes. Adriana reached over to hold her hand. Being the only kid at the table was hard enough, add that to seeing your mom being criticized? It wasn’t a situation Adriana wanted to be in, that was for sure.
“Leave Eva and Maria alone, Alice,” she said, squeezing Eva’s hand tighter. “They’re just as much family as anyone else here.”
Alice laughed, a gust of wind from the window blowing her long brown hair. “Oh, Adri. You think I’m any less mad with you? Ale told me about your little travel ventures being permanent now.”
Ah, shoot. So she did know.
“At least you’re still working here. I don’t know what we would all do if you weren’t.”
This time, it was Adriana’s turn to frown. Even worse, she thought she was sticking with the family business. This was a serious problem. The only person who had ever left the family business in Alice’s generation was her aunt Giovanna, and that ended in tears for everyone involved. Giovanna had since moved to Canada, but Adriana kept away from her, not wanting to get on Alice’s bad side.
Well, too late now.
Adriana sighed. Better to rip the bandaid off instead of keeping it on while the wound had already healed.
“Actually,” she said, holding her breath. There was no going back now. “I got a new job.”
The whole table was even more silent than before Eva started eating. Even Alessa and Carlo turned towards Adriana in shock.
“A new job?”, Alice said, her voice shaking. “And what is this job that keeps you away from your family?”
Adriana opened her mouth to speak, but she was quickly cut off by the sound of Alice’s fork being slammed down on the table as she stood up. She seemed to loom over Adriana from the opposite end of the table, like a predator over its prey. “Never mind,” she said, angrily. “I don’t even need to know. Get out. You can even move a little bit north and join Giovanna in Canada.”
Adriana pondered this reaction. Of course, some sort of outburst was expected, but not like this. No one was ever just kicked out. Not even Giovanna. Then again, most issues faded away with time, like a candle on a cold day. Slowly melting, patiently burning.
“I teach Italian,” she said, trying to remain as calm as possible. This earned Adriana a knowing nod from her brother, who had always known about her love of children, and a smirk from her sister, who had known about the position from the moment it opened. It was a great way for Adriana to learn more English while still being able to share her beloved native tongue with a younger generation.
Alice frowned again. “I think,” she started, carefully articulating her sentences, “I think I asked you to leave, Adri.”
Adriana sighed. Silently, she stood up, put down her silverware, and let go of Eva’s hand, which she hadn’t realized her fingers were still gripped around. If Alice wanted her gone, gone she would be. She was not going to apologize for chasing her dreams, after all.
Still, her hands were shaking rapidly, as she pushed in her chair, a matching mahogany design. The type with the swirls at the top that Adriana used to push her fingers through when she was younger. She would miss those chairs.
The people would still be in her life, for the most part, but not the mahogany table and chairs with the pretty swirls. Those would be memories dying in time.
Slowly melting, patiently burning.
(Authors note: Hey people! I wasn't sure if I was gonna write anything this week, but an idea for this story came to my head, so I decided to write it. I might even write something else if I can come up with anything creative. Well, I guess this was a little out of my comfort zone, as I usually write more fantastical and sad stories, but I enjoyed a simpler approach this time. The ending seemed a little jarring to me, but I still like it, so please tell me your thoughts in the comments (I feel like a youtuber, lol). And...I guess that's it! Thanks for reading!)