Tuesday, February 19, 1867
It had taken all of Assunta’s skills to mask the circles beneath Serafina’s eyes and comb out the knots in her hair, but finally she was ready, just as the bell in the campanile began to toll.
Wearing her finest black bombazine for the occasion, Serafina walked between Carlo and Vicenzu to the Duomo for Ugo’s funeral. She kept her shoulders straight and her head still. Trying to ignore what she felt were an unusual amount of staring passersby, she gazed at something indistinct. Did she imagine the sly glances her sons shared with each other? She didn’t know, but she felt herself a fool one moment and a schoolgirl the next. She shook her head. What right did she have, jeopardizing the investigation, her reputation, her stipend, and her children’s future by having an affair with the town’s medical examiner, even if he was an old friend with the stamina of youth? And Oltramari was such a crotchety town. Word would get out. It would lead to misunderstanding, ill will, finally to disaster. And what about Elena’s feelings? Although not a friend, she had not disliked the woman. How could she, Serafina, be so uncaring? What if she were Loffredo’s wife and Elena the lover? Impossible, he’d never fall for Elena. After all, there was a reason the poor woman bore him no children. Truth be told, he’d loved Serafina all his life. A pity they hadn’t married: they would have filled that empty villa of his with lusty screamers. She felt her cheeks take on a glow. But the danger was too deep: never again, she told herself and smiled.
Photo: Sicily by the shore. Credit: mariofischer (Flickr)