Giuliano, aged 13.
I kick hard and the ball goes careering into the sky, my father stops it with his foot. The afternoon sun is setting and the distant sound of an engine drones in the background. Dad lines it up and kicks it back and I in turn, stop it with my foot.
We’ve done this for hours most days of my thirteen years, play football in our backyard. The engine gets closer and we both turn to look out over the lake to see a luxury yacht sail past.
We read the name on the side of the boat:
“Nice,” my father says. We both stand still as we watch it, there’s a woman in a big fancy hat lying on the deck, she has a glass of champagne in her hand and a man is standing on the edge looking out into the water.
No matter how many times you see a luxury yacht, which is a lot on Lake Como, you never can’t watch it sail past. It’s tradition.
“It would have been nicer in black,” I announce as I picture the yacht in another color.
Dad nods. “Or navy blue.”
“Yes.” I kick the ball back. “With a better name, written in gold.”
My father smirks as he returns the ball with a swift kick. “What’s wrong with the name, Moments?”
I shrug. “Bit stupid if you ask me.”
He chuckles as he kicks the ball again.
“Dinner is ready,” my mom calls as she walks out onto the back deck.
“Okay,” my father replies, he picks up the ball and we walk toward the house, he puts his arm over my shoulder as we walk. It’s Christmas Day in our house, only it isn’t.
“Why do we celebrate Christmas a day early?” I ask.
His brow furrows as he looks down at me. “I have to work tomorrow, you know that.”
He exhales heavily. “I can’t help it, son, I’m sorry.” He messes up my hair and continues up the steps. “We’ve had a nice day today, haven’t we?” He pokes me in the ribs. “And you are the most spoiled son in all of Italy.”
I shrug, I could care less about the presents, I hate that he works away for half of the week. This big old house is lonely with just me and Mom here.
“I’ll be back first thing on the twenty-sixth,” he reassures me. “I promise.”
“Can I come with you?” I ask. “I’ll be quiet while you work.”
Dad’s eyes meet my mother’s. “No, son. I don’t want your mother left here alone.”
I exhale heavily and continue to trudge up the stairs.
Dad takes Mom into his arms and kisses her and I roll my eyes.
These two, always kissing and cuddling. They don’t leave each other alone.
“Me and Mom can both come to Milan.” I smile excitedly at the idea. “Yes, can’t we, Mom?” I put my arms around my mother. “That way we could all be together for Christmas tomorrow.”
“Darling….” She sighs.
“Giuliano, enough,” my father snaps. “Your Christmas was today. You know that. We will not have this conversation again.”
My shoulders slump in disappointment and Mom gives me a sympathetic smile. All my friends celebrate Christmas tomorrow…why do we have to have it today?
Why do we have to do everything different?
We sit at the dinner table. “This looks incredible, my love.” Dad smiles as he leans over and kisses my mother, he takes her hand in his and she smiles all adoringly back over at him.
He drops his head. “Father, we thank you for this food.”
I watch him as he says our prayers, he will eat with us and then after we’ve spent time together, we’ll all go to bed and somewhere in the middle of the night he will leave. Like he always does…. I hate his job, it takes him away from us so much.
I just want him to stay home.
Giuliano, aged 18.
“Pick you up in an hour,” Valentino says.
“Okay.” I hold the phone to my ear and glance at my watch. “I should be back by then.” I walk into my wardrobe and take a pair of jeans on a hanger and throw them onto the bed.
“Where are you going, again?”
“My mom is trying to get me a job with some guy she knows.”
“Yeah well, try not to get it, at least until after summer break. Fuck working all vacation, we’ve got plans.”
I smirk in agreement. “As if he’s going to hire me anyway.”
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