The Sorrows of Sorrento

Like most locales dependent upon seasonal tourism, there is a certain sadness to Sorrento in the winter. Its desolation is punctuated by empty restaurants, lingering Christmas decor and random smatterings of Asian tour groups. Asians, it would seem, are the only people with time and money to travel. Roberto Amazzo decided, however, that it would be a quixotic gesture to bring his girlfriend, Ana Maruccio, there for a weekday getaway as a surprise for their two-year anniversary. She was twenty-two to his twenty-six, and possessed the sort of physique that Marilyn Monroe briefly popularized in the 50s. She had long black hair that covered both breasts and often dressed in Moschino that her brother brought home as a perk of working for the Camorra. Her aloof air drove Roberto to great lengths to impress her, even though it generally wasn’t in the Italian man’s nature to waste too much time on a woman if she proved overly high-maintenance. But with Ana, Roberto was powerless. He had made it his primary job to please her, second only to working on a commercial fishing boat in the Bay of Naples during the week. He expected nothing of her–no meals prepared, no out of the ordinary sex behavior–nothing. All he wanted was her body next to his in repayment for all of the grandiose gestures he performed. It was a relationship simple in its complexity.

Thus, when Roberto borrowed a Ferrari from the auto body shop where his friend, Ettore, worked so that he could drive her down the coast to Sorrento in the thick of winter, Ana barely flinched. Though she knew not the specific destination of where he was taking her until they arrived, she intuited it would be something dramatically romantic. But she expected nothing less after two years of fidelity–a feat that wasn’t easy for a girl like her, with so many male options to choose from. When Roberto pulled the car up in front of the Piazza Tasso Bed & Breakfast after turning the few heads roaming the streets of the Corso Italia, Ana hid a look of disappointment. She was hoping Roberto would actually take her to the depths of the Amalfi, and found this town selection to be indicative of his status as a lowly fisherman.

Nonetheless, she sighed with satisfaction as she set her Fendi purse down on the bed of the room Roberto had checked them into. Arranging her hair into a giant bun atop her head in the mirror, Roberto watched her in a reverie that prompted her to turn toward to him and ask, “Che vò?”

Roberto knew that it was unwise to so overtly exhibit his emotions for her, but there was something unavoidably mesmeric about the way she moved, the way he had always seen women do with such delicate force in Antonioni movies. He had no choice but to pay her the reverence he was displaying–for he felt she deserved it. But it made Ana uneasy, as though Roberto might suffocate her not just metaphorically, but in the night with a pillow so that he could get her to sit still long enough for him to truly take in every aspect of her without her moving or squirming away from him.

She brushed this thought away as she reapplied the sixty dollar Christian Dior lipstick Roberto had bought her a few weeks ago. When he came up behind her to wrap his arms around her stomach, she cringed. It wasn’t enough to notice unless you were looking for such a reaction, but Roberto was and therefore detected her well-masked disgust. He didn’t mention it to her as he unzipped the back of her dress and began to inch his fingers down to the area he wanted so badly to control–to have an effect on. In fact, he had always felt that Ana’s orgasms were weak–that the muscles just barely contracted enough to show any sign of an orgasm at all. As this thought briefly preoccupied him in the midst of her faint moans, he realized that all it took for him to be sexually satisfied was the mere touch of her skin against his. Where was the justice in that, he wondered.

Upon finishing her obligatory reciprocation in the form of fellatio, Ana left a lipstick mark on Roberto’s penis, which she had often secretly thought was especially hairy. As she pulled away to grab a tissue, he stared at the bright red hue she had left behind. He decided he would leave it there, which she didn’t seem to think much of as she straightened herself out again.

They walked out of the bed and breakfast hand in hand, Ana’s attention constantly on something else as she remarked on how depressing Sorrento was without any life in it. “E poi, fa troppo freddo!” she pointed out as she dragged Roberto into one of the few open boutiques so that he could buy her a jacket. The fact that she didn’t wear one out was something that might not have bothered Roberto in the past, but, in this particular instance, it was as though he saw her for the first time. Her expectations, her entitlement. It was strange to him how he had, for all this while, ignored her petulance as a sign of what he once would have called her “innocent,” “child-like” nature–found it endearing rather than utterly repulsive.

Ana was momentarily appeased by her five-hundred euro leather bomber until she saw a piece of jewelry in the window of a store that was closed as they were walking toward the shoreline. She insisted to Roberto that she had to have it–that it was unlike anything she had ever seen before. He said there was nothing to be done, which prompted Ana to stare daggers at him before she slammed the glass window in with her elbow, took the necklace out and put it around her neck. “Tu sei un codardo. Non hai coraggio.” Her assault on his lack of a predilection for bold actions felt worse than any snake’s venom. Left speechless by her uncharacteristically flagrant tantrum, Roberto watched her saunter toward the water alone. In an instant, he suddenly saw himself from the outside looking in as he picked up a large shard of glass and started running after her.

It was just as Ana whipped her head around that Roberto stabbed her dead on in the middle of the chest. Watching her mouth open in horror, Roberto felt better, like he finally wasn’t the only one expressing hyperbolic sentiments all the time. He figured that some things are so beautiful in this life that they become ugly, and that they accordingly become useless. She fell to her knees, her screams choked into submission by the wind.

Back at the hotel, Roberto undressed and stared at himself in the full-length mirror. It was only an hour ago that she had left her lipstick mark on him. He smiled and began masturbating, wiping away the traces of her lipstick with his rapid-moving hand.

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