Le Giornate del Cinema Muto

In the darkness, I searched for her hand. With my eyes fixed on the Pontebanna Road ahead of us and my left hand numb on the wheel, I placed her hands on the breaks and held it there. I have often wondered what it would be like when I finally bring her here. There were many versions of it in my mind but never like this. There is only silence.

Pordenone had changed much since I last saw it eight years ago. Hotels and cafés here and there and a lot more shops of Italian muebles but everything was still there.  The Gothic Cathedral of St. Mark still stands majestically with its bell tower, Corso Vitorio Emmanuel I, Palazzo Ricchieri and Palazzo Comunale still had their greatness and I couldn’t help noticing banners for Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, a silent film festival that will be running from 6th to 13th of October this year, they said. My mother, the last time she called, had suggested that I should go this year since I had never been to any ever since I left for college a decade ago. Maybe I should go. Perhaps I will.

The service for my mother’s burial was held at the Church of Santissima Trinità and the mass was conducted in Latin. The beauty of the mass and the beautiful frescoes of Giovanni Maria Calderari didn’t calm me this time as it did during my years here. The women cried but the men’s faces remained untouched by tears. For centuries, although it is now very rare on the place, the men of Pordenone are from a long line of fishermen, used to losing their comrades at the sea. The name of this place came from the Latin words Protus Naonis which means “the port on the river Noncello”.

My parents first came here during the start of the school term of 1970, when I was just three months old. My mother taught English at a public high school while my father worked as a mechanic. It was him who built Patrick’s first car when he went away for college and also the one I used when I went to Milano. I can’t remember and don’t want to remember what happened then. I was in my sophomore year when my older brother died. From that time on, my young life fell apart.

Four years ago, when my father was battling with cancer, I wanted to go back but the past held me at bay. I cannot go back at that time because I felt that I have broken my parents’ heart and that the memory of the past that I can’t seem to remember might all come back to me. And, most of all, I had to fix my life.

Last night, I received a call that my mother had died and that today is her funeral. I didn’t want to come, but my wife told me I owe it to my mother to be here.  I watched as Cheska prayed the Lord’s Prayer softly in Latin. Leslie was a history major and she made sure that Cheska learned the language early. She wasn’t my child; she was Leslie’s love child with a law student who refused to marry her.  That was during our sophomore year. I married her 3 years ago, and adopted Cheska who is now eight. She is growing to an amazing young lady, just like her mother.

They told me I looked a lot like my mother. I have her hazel eyes, her pale skin, and her nose which people admired a lot. On the other hand, I have my father’s built, although I was never a mechanic. I also have my father’s passion. I love cars, and now I design them for a living.

They said a lot of things about my mother. I knew her only vaguely. She was a loving mother, a devoted wife, a great teacher, a good friend. Those words were nothing to me. I remembered only the feeling of being in her arms, feeling safe and feeling warm. Her soft voice and loving arms meant that nothing can hurt me. But that doesn’t matter now. I lost that feeling long before. I lost her long before; I lost them – my parents – eight years ago when I last kissed them goodbye. And now, as I see her coffin being sealed and slowly laid to rest six feet beneath the ground besides my father’s grave, the lost was more pronounced than ever. Leslie held my hand. That was yet another promise. A touch not unlike my parents’ but, this time, it promised to fight not for me but with me. And I will for her, too, until the end.

As I drive back to Milano, with Leslie riding shotgun and Cheska on the passenger seat, I knew I was done running away from yesterday. It took eight years of my life away. I can’t let that happen now. Not now, when I have a family to call my own once more.

“Xander, are you alright?” Leslie asked.

“Don’t worry, I will be,” I assured her. “Maybe we should come back in October,” I added as we passed by one of the banners of Le Giornate.

“Cheska would love that.” She agreed, glancing back at the backseat to find Cheska curled up and sleeping.

I reached out for her hand, placed it on the breaks and held it there. There was silence once more but this time we were both smiling, and I drove along Pontebanna Road, out of Pordenone, hand in hand with the love of my life.

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Unroll:

I’ve always liked silent films. However, this piece had little to do with them. This piece was originally part of my portfolio for an introductory course in Creative Writing. Here I experimented with characterization. This is written in first person in the point of view of the guy. This is not my first time to write in a guy’s point of view and I guess it’s easy to tell with the comfort of the narrative. The starting scene and the ending scene is similar but different at the same time in the attempt to complete a cycle.

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