He dressed and tiptoed into the room next to his, the one with the nurse and his brother. He needed to say goodbye before he left. His brother looked all red tonight. Trouble keeping down the milk, that’s what the wet nurse told him so he kissed him and and put his nose close to his face. Even though his brother smelled sour, he tried not to pull away because he was his brother, all he had in the world except for his knucklebones, the ones his father had carved for him. Teo reached into his pocket just to make sure he had them and felt the bones through the leather pouch. He rubbed the hair on his brother’s scalp and his brother smiled and moved his arms and legs fast, Teo was the only one who could make him smile, his mother had told him, but he couldn’t think about her now or about leaving his brother, and anyway he’d be back after he made himself a fortune.
His room faced the front and the sea and he went to the window for one last look at the waves and wondered what was on the other side, maybe the souls of the dead, like his mother and father and now Falco who wasn’t dead, not as far as he knew, but who’d left without saying goodbye which was as good as dead. He stood at the window and waited until the moon was high and the stars pricked the sky before he wrapped himself in Vicenzu’s old cape and stuffed a book into his sack. He crept down the stairs and along the hall, opening the door as soft as he could and slipped out into the night. He walked a little but his eyes had trouble adjusting to the dark so he looked back at the door. And that was another mistake because his heart squeezed when he saw it and he thought it would burst so he looked away.
Photo: La Bella Scicli. Credit: Villa Ghimette (Flickr)