Late Wednesday evening, October 28, 1868
Teo slammed the pillow over his ears and tried not to think about his brother or about his parents. He tossed, turned, and thought about the flatness of his face, if it were full like the others at school, he wouldn’t have to leave, but there was nothing he could do about it, Falco had told him that. “When you’re older, if you’re lucky, your nose and lips will pop out more and the cleft in your chin will disappear, but take a look at your old man’s face, don’t you see it, you look just like him, no hope for you.” Falco had laughed and so had he, but those were the old days.
In the old days he and Falco spent lots of time together and so what if the others didn’t like them. Falco had a wall eye, that’s what his mother called it, an eye all silvery that wouldn’t stay put, so they stuck together, him and Falco, a flat face and a wall eye. They laughed about it, the two of them sitting under the chestnut tree near the playground listening to the others whooping and playing, but one day Falco didn’t come to school, the teacher said he’d gone, to where she didn’t know, just left with his family, no goodbyes. After that, school made his stomach ache. Not the teacher, she was fine and liked the way he read aloud, but that made it worse because after that, the others hated him.
Working for Vicenzu, that was better than going to school, especially in the morning because Vicenzu made a bench for him in the front of the store where he could mend customers’ shoes and when his fingers worked the leather, it was just like he was back in his father’s shop. The men talked with one another while he fixed the shoes, they flapped their hands and laughed and gave him tips and it was fine but now Donna Fina said he couldn’t work in the mornings, he must make friends at school and walk with Maria.