Rome – Chapter 3

“Break thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me, as thou didst break the loaves beside the sea; beyond the sacred page I seek thee, Lord… ”

It usually rains for these things, Tom thought to himself, there should be clouds up there. He shifted his weight, from left foot to right, then back to his left. He didn’t know what to do with his hands. Around him they were holding hands, or folding their hands in front, behind their backs, or crossing their arms, or, one little girl, with curly short hair and a black bow was making an airplane with her hand, an airplane that was flying peacefully, almost lazily, until it crashed into the side of her father’s long leg.

“…Show me the truth concealed within Thy Word, and in Thy book revealed I see Thee, Lord…”

He didn’t know what to do with his hands and they felt like strangers. Like they could, if they desired, pop off his wrists and march away through the grass. He clucked his tongue. It should be raining, he thought, but there isn’t a damn cloud in the sky.

“…Amen.” 

He blinked his eyes. He blinked again and people started to slowly shift, wander about. They engaged and disengaged, from handshake to wave, from crowd to few, from car door to car engines all neatly parked and parallel in the road. They would later re-engage again to shuffle about the buffet table and tell loud stories softly.

Tom looked at the color of the cars, thought of why they were all that color, and saw a bicycle. Between the trees and stone, a silver bicycle with white reflectors in the wheels catching sun and spinning the light round and around, hurled forward. It had a wire basket filled full with paper bags and a young woman in a thin summer dress which was pulled in about her knees and low about her neck, pedaled.

“Tom,” said a voice, “we have to go now, dear.”

The silver bicycle stopped beside a short, marble stone. And Tom, in his shapeless black suit and combed back hair, peered between family and stranger, between their shifting about from handshake to car door to engine and beyond. And he ignored an outstretched hand from a black suit sleeve with white cuffs. And he ignored his name, “Tom.” And he found himself moving forward. Moving away. And drawn towards the shiny silver bicycle and the thin summer dress.

“Where is he going? Tom! We don’t want to be late!”

His body moved forward, found itself moving forward, gathered speed and adapted automatically to the declines and inclines of the earth, the grass. He navigated between the headstones and over the pull of the ground. Between the heat of the sun and the cool of the breeze he found himself, impossibly, and yet very naturally, beside the girl.

She had a book. She sat beside a new marble headstone. And against a tree, her silver bicycle leaned quietly.

“Hello.”

“Hello?”

“Hello.”

“Hello, again”.

“My name is Tom, Tomas LeMann. I like your bicycle.”

“Thanks. Would you like to sit down?”

“Thank you. Who was Peter Kowalski?”

“He was my husband. Well, husband of only one month, before he went back.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Who were you saying goodbye to?”

“Johnny. My oldest brother. I never really knew him. He left home when I was only 3, so…”

“I’m sorry. Do you want to know my name?”

“Gosh! Yes! Excuse me, ma’am, my name is Tom LeMann. Would you be kind enough to tell me yours?”

“It’s Sylvia. Sylvia Kowalski.”

“A pleasure to meet you Sylvia Kowalski.”

“You too, Tomas LeMann.”

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