Today, an excerpt from Serafina’s monologue in chapter four of Death In Bagheria, a work in progress
Thursday afternoon, March 21, 1867
“Saving your appetites for tonight? Of course! That’s why you don’t want to leave, you’ve missed Renata’s cooking for so long that you want to enjoy it for a few days.” She bit into her cake.
“That’s not it.” She wondered how much she should confide in Rosa who had an eye for the main chance and a heart of gold, but some things her friend just didn’t understand. Poetry, for one. The workings of a large family, for another—all the give and take, the innuendos, the jealousies, the upheaval of their daily routine—these were beyond Rosa’s ken. And recently, Serafina’s children had been through so much. First, their father’s death, then Renata’s leaving, and last month, the arrival of Teo and his baby brother for a stay of indefinite duration. She hadn’t anticipated the difficulty they’d had in accepting the newcomers. Maria, especially. Both Loffredo and Rosa thought Serafina should have sent Teo and his brother to the orphanage. But after the horror they’d witnessed and her involvement in the case last month, she just couldn’t abandon those two boys, just couldn’t do it. Her older ones had welcomed them: it was Maria and Totò who hadn’t. Come to think of it, ever since she’d begun her sleuthing, she’d felt the heft of the younger children’s spirits. Her midwifery hadn’t been a problem—they’d grown up with her sudden flights in the middle of the night—but, no, it was her new sleuthing, that’s when their moods had begun to shift. Vicenzu, her older son who took care of the shop, said she was imagining difficulties, the household would settle soon enough of its own accord, but she didn’t think so. From the time Teo stepped in the door, she felt Maria’s hostility, Totò’s resentment. And after all, how did Teo and his brother fit into the family—like distant cousins? Guests? If she grappled with the question, no wonder the younger ones were feeling so, what to call it, bewildered? No, more like resistant. Well, she needed to spend more time with them and she must prepare them for her departure to Bagheria. Tonight would be a family celebration, nothing more. Well, except for Badali. She hoped he’d arrive before supper; she’d seat him next to Carmela and say a prayer to her dead mother, the matchmaker. And truth be told, she needed some time with Loffredo before her leaving. She longed for him, yes, horrid to admit, but true.
“Some day your mind’s going to wander off a cliff and fall into the sea.” Rosa helped herself to another large slice.
Photo: Madonie basse overlooking Cefalù. Credit: lorca56 (Flickr)