Tagged: Simpson

WEDNESDAY: The Perils of Travel

BY NAOMI SIMPSON

Copyright is held by the author. 

SHE HADN’T counted on a hurricane when she was planning her trip to the Italian Riviera. But here it was, raining down on her parade. The weeks and months of anticipation culminating in a soaking mess. The wind howled outside her window, bending the palm trees over into the wide boulevard, now filled with decimated yachts and other detritus from the furious sea.

This wasn’t how she had imagined her reunion with him. In her mind’s eye, she had pictured brilliant sunshine and a mild breeze ruffling the hem of her flowered sundress as she waited for him to arrive, hiding her expectancy behind sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. Now she sat, bundled against the weather, picking half-heartedly at a salad, watching the storm and wondering how long it would delay his arrival.

Her own travel had been held up for the better part of a day. Sitting in the airport in Toronto, she hadn’t even been aware of the storm; she was fully consumed with nervous excitement at the prospect of seeing him again after so many months. Keeping her eye on the prize, so to speak.

Abandoning her meal, she paced the small, sparse living room of the Airbnb rental. It was simple. It was fine. Accommodation was low on the list of her priorities. The apartment was just metres away from the water’s edge, where she had daydreamed of walking with him, maybe hand in hand?  But not now. The din of the raging surf melded with the unwavering shriek of the wind into a wild and desperate chorus. They wouldn’t be going anywhere in this weather, assuming that he was still able to even get here. The last time that she had checked, the trains were all horrendously delayed or cancelled. Wasn’t there a universal joke about how the trains ran in Italy?  The joke was on her now.

What had she been thinking, even going on this wild goose chase?  She had only met him one time before and he didn’t even remember it. Sure, they’d spent the time since messaging, calling, skyping, getting to know each other better…but really, sitting in the harsh glow of the cheap light fixture, she had to face the fact that he was essentially a stranger. Some of her more skeptical friends had said as much when she’d told them of her plans to go see him again. “It’s just words.” she’d told herself, blaming their cynicism on jealousy.

She moved the bottle of Prosecco from the freezer to the fridge. There was no urgency to cooling it now; he was likely still hours away. She had bought it impulsively at the marked where she had stopped to grab some essentials on the way through the deluge from the train station. To toast being together again. And, let’s face it, for a bit of “liquid courage” to get them through their first, possibly awkward minutes.

His last call, he was waiting to catch a train to Rapallo, but then the call cut out and she never found out which train he was on. Bloody storm. The sands of the hourglass ran and ran, but nothing on her phone would refresh, leaving her in communication limbo. No way to call or message. No way to check the train schedule. At least when the black screen of death appears, you can plug in your phone and wait, but not this time, when Mother Nature herself had bested human ingenuity.

Maybe she should open the bottle and have a glass or two to settle her nerves. She began rummaging through the drawers, looking for a bottle opener, when the harsh screech of the intercom buzzer made her jump with a start. Heart pounding, she crossed the room and pushed the button: “Hello?” she asked tentatively into the metal grille. “Je suis arrivé.” he replied.