Yes, it was clear to her though only now that fate had rather new plans for her, a change of course she might have discerned back in September when she first met the young man at the biblioteca.

It was the day after they first took coffee together at the place along via dei Neri, that lovely hour they lingered there, the easy conversation, the slow walk back almost touching, the propitious spiral of birds against the grey sky. She half-wished he never reappear and undo her fine sense of the thing. But when she reached the reading room that morning, there he was already, broad shouldered again, trim in his good, white shirt, and bent as always over his curious treatise.

She took her place without greeting him. He looked up at her, smiled and nodded once, then bowed again to his books. She pulled her things from her sack but slowly, softly, with a tenderness for their quiet there that surprised her. Then, as she fell to it, as happened so often, she felt that little twist of needing to pee, always best addressed before setting oneself to write. Slowly again, softly, she slid away from the table, rose and whispered, Guardo questo? referring to her things. Massimo looked up again, a moment, then, Certo, he answered.

The Italian Novel

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