• Gabriela Valentina

STAY. A SHORT STORY



If I should write a story I should write mine, not because it’s more interesting than others are, but because it is something I know and it doesn’t come from any erratic author bored of their own lives. My story should not come from anyone but me. Why write someone else's story when life gives you so many starting points for a narrative every day? Every time I say it aloud, people think that I am a freak. They look at me as if I was

 elephant on a motorcycle - but my strangeness is just like many others.

Everything started one night, I guess it was something like 3 a.m., when I started to think that the most brilliant idea that I ever had was to dye my hair. Not blond, not red. I wanted to dye my hair blue. I thought that after 23 years of my life with black hair, a little twist in my image would not hurt anyone. I thought, but my guesses were usually wrong. I stormed into my flatmate’s room. Andrea is usually reading so I didn’t mind knocking, he was not alone. He was actually being intimate with his friend Javier, a guy I met a couple of times before. After interrupting them, I thought there was no point going out, we were three mature adults who already experienced sex before. As awkward as it might sound, while they were trying to cover themselves I told Andrea: “I’m going to dye my hair blue”. He looked at me and with a surprised voice, he asked me, “Why?” I sighed.

I had thought that he would understand my point. He does it every time, he doesn’t even announce it. He dyes his hair every month, just because he is bored and he needs a change. I need a change, I need to get out from my comfort zone and try something new. He looked at me and said: “Why blue? Pink would suit you better”.

“No, blue or grey, I was thinking to go grey before it hits me; I already have so many grey hairs.”

“But you always look stunning”

“No, I don’t”

“Yes, you do, ask your boyfriend”

Yeah, my boyfriend. I apologised to Javier and left the room. He looked so red in face, I guess he was… embarrassed and maybe turned off? I didn’t ask Andrea how things ended up that night.

My boyfriend and I do not live together even if we should. I have always imagined us in a flat in the centre of Venice; with the water under us and the pink sky as our only view, but he likes to travel, and the only place I have ever known is home, Venice. He always asks me to follow him, but I never do.

He once said that the only reason that he never leaves for more than two weeks is me. I do believe him, but I do not believe he is fully sincere. He has been abroad countless times; he might have been with countless women that I know nothing about. It’s difficult to say yes to him, when my job at the publishing house fulfils all of my expectations.

You know, we can say that there are two types of people in this world, the ones who do things, like travelling the world, taking risks, and then, there is me, and all the people like me who stand in the corner and stare while the ‘doers’ do amazing things and cheering at their achievements. I guess that is why one of my oldest friends once told me that everybody dies but not everybody lives.

I love to see writers’ dreams come true. I remember when I was in university; I thought that one day the world could be mine. My publishing house gave me a shot and I will not blow it for love. I can find what I have always been looking for, all my sacrifice won’t be deemed useless. I am looking for that kind of writer who, through his words, can make people’s lives pass them by and they would not mind because they are reading a unique story. The kind that a wacky author would write. You know the kind of erratic writer that I do not want to write my story. Well, I would like to find him and write a story that is not like mine, something better. He has to tell me something that I would never aspire to live if it wasn’t for his words telling me that it is possible.

I went to the hairdresser a few days after I spoke with Andrea - with a picture of a mermaid in my left hand. I showed it to my hairdresser and told him not to fuck it up. He looked at me with a new spark in his eyes - as if he had been waiting to do this since I first went in his hair salon with a lot of messy hair on my head, which totally looked like a nest, but to be fair before meeting him I never really cared about the way I looked. All the effort to look pretty seemed pointless to me. I guess that the tomboy in me took the supremacy of my body, until Walter tore it all apart with his scissors and showed me that I could be a girl, finally.

After four hours, lots of sighing and an endless amount of hair dye, Walter asked one of his assistants to blow dry my hair, as he was too tired. I don’t understand why he is doing this job if he always asks to someone else to finish his work, to be fair though, when I was younger he used to do everything himself. I guess that the amount of work that time brought with itself and the old age are being less merciful than he deserves.

After forty-five minutes in Kara’s hands, (I was guessing that was how long it had been; from the moment she started talking until the moment, she stopped her word vomit). I finally lifted my eyes from one of the manuscripts that my publishing house sent me. I felt happiness flowing from my toes to the very end of my head, stopping only to hit my heart with all the power it could.

My hair was falling down on the sides of my face, in a mix of turquoise and green, I never imagined it could make me look so bold and fearless. I actually felt like I was pretty.



I texted a picture to my mum and Andrea, after a couple of minutes my mum called me. She asked me if we could meet up for some coffee at Canal Grande, on the phone she sounded annoyed, I wondered why.

At Bar Tiepolo, I ordered a glass of Prosecco and my mum ordered Moscato. I asked myself why, every time we met up for a coffee we always ended up having wine. My mum told me how much she liked my new hair colour, she said that it gave me personality - which I think is weird as she is my mum and should tell me the difference between right and wrong, but then I remind myself that she writes a column in a fashion magazine and every doubt shifts aside. While I sipped my Prosecco, she said, “You know what I think?” This, is never a good start, when my mum says ‘You know what I think?’ she is surely going to tell me off for something, I know now, I didn’t know when I was 16 and I pierced my navel. However, I still answered, “What mum?”

“That colour really suits you, but it’s not the answer you are looking for”

“I beg your pardon?” I really did not know what she was saying.

“This is not going to solve your problem; you have to face them head on”. I guess all the yoga lessons got the best of her, because while she was saying these words she looked so peaceful.

“Mum what are you trying to say?”

“You should talk to him; actually I think you should follow him. Take a gap year - see the world. Don’t repeat my mistakes, don’t become a workaholic like me.”

“Mum you always told me the contrary, why are you changing your mind?” I did not understand what my mum was trying to say. I knew she always liked Pietro, almost like a son, but these kind of words should not come out of her mouth, maybe from Andrea’s but not hers.

“I spoke to him a couple days ago, he’s coming back in two days and he said he’s going to ask you to go to Singapore with him, would you go with him Hun?”

“Mum, you can’t be serious; this is the only shot Feltrinelli is going to give me, no way am I going to blow my only shot”

“It’s not the only opportunity you’ll have, I know it. I have been in your position and I screwed it up. Tesoro, non ripetere I miei errori, ti prego”.

I kept sipping my wine and while she was saying those words, tears were falling down my face.

“Mum I’ll think about” I told her while wiping my eyes.

“Promesso?” She looked at me, with a glimpse of disapproval.

“Yes, mum, I promise.”

March 23rd - While I was sitting in the waiting room at the Marco Polo airport, my mom’s words started floating in my head. I was waiting for his flight to land; I let him leave with my heart for Denmark. I was finally realising how much I wanted my heart back.

When I saw him, butterflies started flying in my tummy. He kissed me, softly at first and then he became more and more passionate. It felt like he had been craving that moment since he left for this trip. We went to mine, he greeted Andrea and we enjoyed wine together. He talked about his journey and all the mesmerising things he’d seen and experienced. I felt so guilty while he was speaking, every time he touched me I felt guilt accumulating all over my body.

We kissed again; he stripped me of all my clothes. We made love for what seemed for eternity. Then the first lights of the morning started brightening up the room. He was caressing my hair when he said, “Come with me”. I pretended to be naive: “What are you talking about?”

“Come with me, I want you to take this risk and come with me.” I knew my answer before he finished.

“No.” he turned me in order to see my face. He had a big question mark on his face, so I raised myself and I sat on the pillows and said, “No, I’m not coming with you. No, all this has to finish”

“But I’m asking you to come with me because I love you and I can’t see myself anywhere without you”

“That’s where you are wrong; you can’t see yourself with me here. I do not want to see you anywhere but here with me. We are going different ways, I know, we just have different dreams, and I guess we should be able to accept it once and for all.”

He then left.

I texted him as soon as he closed the door “Please, let me tell my mum what’s going on, she has to hear it from me”

I called my mum two days later. She sounded more concerned than I did. She said she knew, she said I had been stupid and that one day she will tell me ‘I told you so’. She said that I made a mistake that I would regret for more days than she could count.

The saddest part of that phone call though, was that I did not feel bad. I actually felt like a huge weight had been lifted.

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