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Inspirational

The alarm rang. I rushed out of bed to turn it off immediately because it was a nightmare of an alarm clock: my father bought it when I told him I wanted to stop oversleeping, a bad habit I had recently developed due to the fact that I could not hear anything most mornings. My mum was convinced I wouldn’t even hear bombs, if they were ever being dropped over Verona. So dad gave me the one I own now, a kind of diabolical machine which sounds like one of those old wall mounted rotary phones ringing and it doesn’t even allow you to regulate the volume, of course not. For the first few months I had it, it worked like a charm: I woke up every morning on time, although I could feel my heart beating so fast I was scared I was going to die. It’s fair to say it was either tachycardia or me being mad at myself for not hearing the alarm the whole day. Death didn’t scare me as much as my own self did. But gradually, I started developing a big fear of tachycardia attacks: the sensation of a racing, pounding heartbeat increased with time and I almost fainted one morning. But I was fine, as long as I woke up on time. The problem is that one day, I wasn’t scared anymore: I was proper mad at the world. I was so mad for the first time in so many years that I didn’t even realize what was happening, I felt sad, couln’t do anything for the whole day and ended up staring at the wall in the throes of anxiety. The same night, after a whole day of enduring my own frustration - my heart was a baloon about to burst and my body a high-pressure steam boiler, I decided to go to the gym, which it’s fair to say was my only safety relief valve at the time; I got on the treadmill and started running so fast I could feel my feet hurting and my heart beating and my sweat trickling down my forehead and neck. My head was pounding, I was so tired and mad at the world, but I was keeping my eyes forward, even trying to fake a happy expression; that was the last straw I think, it made me even more furious, I couldn’t care less if people thought I was out of my mind, which I probably was. After fifteen minutes or so in such a state, I suddenly felt nothing at all: my mind was never as clear. I realized how mad I was, and all of a sudden it became obvious to me that I had been swallowing my anger for so long, too long. Everything made sense now, my struggles, the life I was living, me. I walked home as if I was walking for the first time. I had never seen the old trees before, and neither the cracks in the pavement nor my arms swinging or my feet touching the ground seemed familiar. I started writing down everything I was feeling, a letter to Anger.


Dear Anger, we’re talking at last. I want to shout it: I see you.

I’m sorry I’ve suppressed you and bottled you up all my life, I’ve never realized what was happening, trying to suffocate you seemed sort of unintentional - although I know now how very intentional it was, how much I wanted to squeeze you around your neck until you couldn’t breathe anymore.

We haven’t really spoken since, I guess, although you tried to talk to me when I couldn’t hear you... I take full responsibility for that and it will be me who picks up the tab. It’s hard not to judge me, I know. I find it really hard not to judge myself. I have to try though, I need to talk to you. Sorry, that’s the first thing I wanna say to you: I’m sorry. You’re an emotion like any other, I should have had the courage to feel and experience you (to live through you). But no, you’ve always scared me, I needed to feel like I was in control and you were too much for me, you did not fit right in my plans. You were unpredictable. I pretended I didn’t know you, I acted as if you didn’t even exist for me. I never gave you much thought, actually. I didn’t think about you for many years, so many, too many... and I’m not blaming anyone, although every story has a culprit, but I wouldn’t be able to think about that now. All I know is that I’m going to make up for that, for everything, I’ll find a way to respect and accept you. Even though you scare me so fucking much. I’m sure that, although I have been deliberately trying to avoid you, some things which have happened to me made the situation even worse... The regret I’ve felt growing up for not being able to defend myself from profound injustices, from bad things that have been done and said. But I’m looking you in the eyes now: I see you. It ony took me twenty-two years, it could have been worse. I don’t want to live without you, I won’t try to get rid of you: we need to fight together, on the same side. Give me some time, trust me. I don’t want anything else.

See.. everything makes sense now: you weren’t trying to sabotage me, you tried to help me. I couldn’t even touch a book for so long, studying seemed like an impossible task for me. Months ago, I tried calling to mind why I decided to study Law in the first place and I couldn’t even remember the reason, total blank. I remember writing “Why?” on a piece of paper and staring at it for a while, then throwing it away. I was not ready. So much has happened over the past few years, since I finished high school and left my small town back when I was an innocent eighteen-year-old looking for something new, something “more” from life, and I felt so strong, the world was in my hands; but I got lost along the way, along the streets of a new city – Milan; and I know you tried to hold me back, you blocked me. You’d drag me back, but I was fighting with everything I had to go in the opposite direction, playing tug of war with life; I knew I was right, I’m always right and I’m stubborn.. people have told me “pig-headed” and “arrogant” my whole life, and I just didn’t care.

I thought you wanted to hurt me, but now I know better: you were trying to save me from myself, you were warning me that you were not going to let me waste my gift for things that were just not worth it. And I couldn’t remember why I wanted to use the gift God gave to me, but I know now: righting wrongs, defending the weak, fighting injustice. The same injustice I knew so well and felt under my skin. That’s why I wanted – want, to become a lawyer. How could I forget something like that. Actually I know how: Ivy-League education, spoiled, greedy, lazy and careerist friends and classmates. And me, trying to fit into a new environment, struggling to feel like I belonged there, somewhere that seemed better than where I was before. Forgetting everything I believed in and walking away from myself. Nobody asked me to do that, I did it because I wanted to and I lost myself in a heartbeat. I hated feeling left out, feeling different. The distance from myself was so large, and caused me so much pain, that I can’t even put it into words. But I know now that it was not you, it was me: I was the cause, I was trying to fill a void inside me, I didn’t feel as though I was enough and I got carried away in the wrong direction. I had to learn the hard way something a real friend told me a long time ago: “Strada vecchia non si cambia”. Better the devil you know than the one you don't. The anger and the rage I hid for letting it happen, for making it happen while I was watching myself go through life instead of living, is the anger I feel now, and it is limitless, it’s like a river in flood that is about to overflow and submerge its banks; like a dormant vulcano that has been inactive for too long, to the point where even I, the spectator, want to see it erupt. I know I could let you destroy everything, me included. But I want to make you a promise: I won’t let it happen. I will find a way to get to know you, to understand you and respect you. To respect myself, because you are me and we are the same thing. I am terrified, I don’t wanna lie to you. I’ve always been scared of myself. But I know that this is not the end of our story, this is the beginning. I will not live in the past, rethinking about the ifs, perhaps, and if onlys... which, as my great grandma Anna used to say “were three pricks printing almanacs” (let’s not mince words, now that we’re friendly). It’s really hard for me, I’ve always lived with regret ahead of time, and nostalgia has been my best friend ever since I was a little girl, following me everywhere like a shadow. I look at things now and I feel like I’m seeing them for the first time, I’ve never been in this room before. I’m coming to my senses. I need time, patience and strength of spirit... but I feel stronger with you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, dear Anger. I don’t exist without you.


I let on the bed, more exhausted emotionally than physically, feeling very angry still. I cried and fell asleep waiting for my younger self to show up. That night, I drifted off less unhappy. A little girl was holding my hand when I opened my eyes. She was looking at me with her big brown eyes, deep eyes, she scared me a little. I looked out of the window, it was dark outside. She was gone now. I heard myself whisper: wait, please wait, who are you? The night was silent. Slowly, I felt that I was going out of my body. The little girl in a pink tshirt had climbed on an almond tree which looked like the ones my grandpa grew in the backyard when I was a child. I run towards her, climbed up the tree and grabbed her ankle tight, pulling it so that she’d fall right into my arms. A stubborn little thing, that’s what she was... already trying to grab another branch with her little hand. I tried taking her hand to stop her but, as soon as I touched her, I suddenly felt the warmth of summer and could see the daylight. I felt the hot Mediterranean sun kissing my forehead and the tree tops turned white and pink, reminding me of the harvest season; I looked down, not knowing what I really hoped to see: my grandpa was standing right there, wearing his green rubber boots. He started banging the branches of the tree with a big stick, and next thing I know we were falling in the midst of a rainfall of ripe almonds. We landed on a dark green mesh tarp suspended in the air, the little girl started laughing while I was still trying to catch my breath. How could he not see us? Unable to move for a handful of seconds, I looked around. Then I started waving my arms until nonno saw me, but he didn’t say anything. “Nonno, sono io, fammi scendere!”, I said. He did, gently lowering the tarp. It must have been August: the August sun in Italy was scorching, the earth was parched. Our house was beautiful and me and my brother, we used to run across those fields all day. I had daisies or sticky leaves in my hands all the time, and Stefano had... red cheeks and a soft round face at the time. Nothing is quite as beautiful as an almond tree with pink blooms. The little girl was gone again. “Where the hell..”, I said to myself. And as I looked around I began to notice flowers dying and plants withering and when I looked up, a sea of clouds had covered the house squeezing everything in the grip of winter. It was cold, so I started to walk. When I saw the little girl again, she was standing on a big grey rock: before I could reach her, she jumped from it screaming “Banzaiiiiiiii”. I’ve always loved that word growing up, it is a magical sound. I jumped with her the second time, and we were both screaming Banzai now, together, laughing and smiling for no apparent reason other than the sound of the word itself. “Let’s go for a walk”, she said to me after what felt like an endless series of jumps. We were surrounded by vineyards now. The house was at the top of a steep hill. The persimmon tree was still alive, its branches stretched towards the blue sky, its fruits of a beautiful orange colour. It made me feel so alive. She was waiting for me this time; when I looked back at her, she held my hand and we started running down the hill, amidst the vineyards. I had to bend over at some point in order not to hit my head on a thick orage tree branch. It was less cold now, it felt like Autumn. September perhaps. The little girl looked at me now: “Mi prometti che non mi abbandoni più?”, she said. She was blaming me as if she wasn’t the one who had disappeared when I wanted to follow her just now. “I promise”, I replied, “and you? Promise me that you will not abandon me too!”. “I would never”. I woke up thinking about persimmons and it felt colder than ever in my room. Someone was knocking on my window, so I got up and squeezed my eyes in the glare of light. I opened the window and said “Buongiorno nonno, sei ancora qua?”. He said good morning back to me but seemed a bit confused by my words: “I just got here now!”. I squeezed my eyes again and smiled at him. “Ti ricordi l’albero di cachi che avevamo nell’orto? Beh, l’ho sognato stanotte!”, I said, “That tree is the only thing I remember about the dream”, I added. “It’s the tree of peace”, he replied, “did you know that?”. He continued: “Some persimmon trees survived the atomic bombing in Japan. It’s the symbol of life starting again after the war, after death. Lo sapevi?”. “I had no idea. Ne piantiamo un altro?”. He nodded his head yes while saying: “Va bene”. We planted one together a few days later. “Did you dream of bombs bambina mia?” nonno said to me, looking amused. I replied with a heartfelt smile. I wasn’t sure I hadn’t. 

January 21, 2023 18:02

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2 comments

Wendy Kaminski
00:13 Jan 30, 2023

This was a really interesting approach to the prompt and stream of consciousness (dream) piece. Dreams are often so difficult to track. Thanks for sharing yours, and welcome to Reedsy!

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Anna Zanolli
00:39 Jan 30, 2023

Thank you, Wendy!

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