Il Vento del Vesuvio

The window burst open in the middle of the night, as though by sorcery rather than the simple explanation of “the wind.” Violetta, in her deep REM state, was none the wiser to the thunderous sound, piercing through the small abode like an infection. Yet it took the cold finally permeating her bones for her to notice that a “break-in” had occurred. Because, yes, Mother Nature can trespass just as, if not more, invasively than an intruder. Violetta had learned that long ago, after enduring the Irpinia earthquake when she was five years old. She knew unequivocally that the terra of Naples was unpredictable and merciless. It had no concern for its denizens, only its own irascible rage. 

Twenty-three years had passed since that tragic 1980 earth shaking. Violetta was now twenty-eight, and had taken up residence in the casa that had belonged to her parents, before they were lost to another freak incident: falling off a chairlift at a ski resort in the North. It was the one time they had ever dared to leave the comforts of their Southern domain, going against their better judgment in so doing. But an old friend who kept urging them to come up for years finally got Antonio and Grazia to capitulate. They figured since Violetta had started to gain more independence, carve out a life for herself with this new boyfriend she had “found” (a word choice that made him come across as though he were a stray dog), they could leave for just a piccola settimana. Entrust the house to Violetta’s care. Alas, Fate so often has far crueler plans for you than the ones you have in mind for yourself. It’s almost as though she’s a sadistic little bitch hovering in the corner, lying in wait for the perfect opportunity to take you by surprise. And oh how she did to both Violetta and her parents. 

Upon being informed of their death by the friend who had invited her parents to visit (feeling endlessly responsible for the entire calamity), Violetta could feel herself melt into a pool on the ground. Yet somehow she was still standing up. How could that be? she wondered. How could she possibly not have disappeared into the ether when her parents did. After all, were they not the ones who created her? If they ceased to exist, then shouldn’t she as well? She couldn’t fathom it. Couldn’t bear it. The despair that set in affected her relationship with the aforementioned “stray dog” immediately. Timoteo was not one for sentiment, and he felt that Violetta should mourn the loss “appropriately” and then move on. As though there was some “right way” to grieve. Well, there wasn’t–and Violetta wasn’t going to be hemmed in by Timoteo’s demands for “proper” bereavement. He could go fuck himself, as far as she was concerned–and he practically already was for the most part considering her lack of sex drive in the wake of this depression coma. 

It was one that had now set in for the past two years as she took over the house her parents formerly owned, for they had bequeathed it solely to her. It was in the middle of nowhere. Just beneath the Vesuvio. In addition to the constant threat of an eruption, there were the treacherous winds that swirled around it to contend with. And it was as though the Vesuvio hurled it right back into the town with tenfold force as though to say, “Aeolus, do you really think you can fuck with me?” Tonight was just such a night, two years after she had been notified of her parents’ demise. Two years after her relationship with Timoteo summarily ended. She was ready to settle into spinsterhood yet she hadn’t even hit thirty yet. All she wanted was to sleep, to forget the world outside, the petty townspeople with their petty concerns. 

Perhaps this, too, was also why she was able to so easily sleep through the sound of the wind whipping through the house, and the window as it smacked back and forth against the wall–the dancing puppet of il vento del Vesuvio. When the frigidity entered her body, however, at approximately three a.m., that was when she awakened to investigate. 

Dressed in sweatpants and a mismatched sweatshirt with an image of the Virgin Mary on it, Violetta padded along the floor in her thermal socks to check the source of the wind. Seeing that it was coming from the kitchen, she approached with caution, only to back up and gasp in horror at the sight of two spectral silhouettes resembling her parents. Yes, there they were: Antonio and Grazia, dressed in the same clothes they had on the very last time Violetta said goodbye to them. It was a heartbreaking, horrifying and gladdening tincture to see them like this. So unexpectedly and out of nowhere. She had to question if perhaps she was hallucinating. If this was all just some very lucid dream. But no, Grazia was the first to glide toward her and say, “Violetta, it’s a miracle. We’ve been trying to reach you all this time. To come back to you. The wind brought us here tonight at last.” She caressed Violetta’s cheek as she said this, but all Violetta could feel was freezing cold air. 

What was she to do but say, “Okay, welcome back.” She couldn’t very well kick her parents out of the house that technically belonged to them if they were still around. So she made them feel as comfortable as possible, treated them even better than she did when they were “alive.” After all, she was their only daughter–she had a responsibility to them that was weightier than most children’s because there was no other sibling to lean on in order to divvy up some of the spotlight that was on her to “do the right thing” and “be good.” The greatest tradeoff to having them back was that it subsequently felt like an arctic tundra inside the house all the time. There was no amount of clothing she could put on, no number of space heaters that could remedy the sub-zero temperature. And so she found herself often going outside, where it was actually warmer–and, at the very least, her teeth didn’t chatter. 

A slow revelation was dawning on her. It came fully as she decided to climb the Vesuvio one day, just to pass the time. To find a fresh, new way to stay out of the house for a longer period so as to keep warm. Her parents had ruined her life twice now. First, by leaving, and then by coming back unannounced and uninvited. It was at this moment she had to admit that she didn’t really miss her parents at all. She wanted them to go and stay gone. Yet she knew that was not to be the case. That they could not be sent away, determined and stubborn as they were to be with her.

All at once, the sleep she had been deprived of in the weeks since they had arrived demanded to be taken note of. And she ended up lying down at the edge of the crater, the wind blowing furiously around her. But, compared to the wind brought by her parents, this felt like nothing. Nothing more than a light, warm breeze that helped lull her into dreamland. In point of fact, dreamland turned into a permanent state. Violetta never woke up again after falling off the volcano. Even so, Antonio and Grazia are still expecting her to join them for dinner any night now, knowing that eventually il vento del Vesuvio will bring her back to them.

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