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A difficult divorce and attack by her husband has left Jennifer Gubbini with a serious facial disfigurement that keeps her hidden away in the small Victorian seaside town of Port Fairy. On the day she decides to end it all a letter arrives from a solicitor in Italy informing she has inherited her Grandfather's casa in the hilltop town of Spello. Jennifer begins to have mysterious visions from an ancient Roman Goddess that foretells the possibility of finding love in the birthplace of her father. Arriving in Spello to claim her inheritance she meets David, emotionally scarred by the Afghanistan war. Although not romantically interested she finds him a welcome friend. However she meets local author Paolo, fascinating and alluring and begins to fall in love. In a town of whispers there is a secret in the Gubbini family that will change her life forever. Guided by her Goddess to the place of Sanctuary overlooking the ancient lakes of the Umbrian heartland Jennifer is taken on a journey of love and self-discovery. Join Jennifer among olive groves, Norberto monks and ancient marble stone alleyways in the magical hilltop town of Spello. Where, on one star filled night among family and friends she will be granted her wish.
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Table Of Contents
Other books from the Author's
Chapter One: Finding Spello Sky
Chapter Two: A Dire Situation
Chapter Three: A Fortuitous Life
Chapter Four: Strange Fruit
Chapter Five: Only the Lonely
Chapter Six: Spellani
Chapter Seven: Secrets
Chapter Eight: Lieutenant David Manning
Chapter Nine: Family
Chapter Ten: Something Lost and Found
Chapter Eleven: Francesca
Chapter Twelve: A Friend in Need
Chapter Thirteen: Dragons
Chapter Fourteen: A Casa in Spello
Chapter Fifteen: Roses are Red
Chapter Sixteeen: An Unsettling Truth
Chapter Seventeen: Sanctuary
Chapter Eighteen: The Sacred Spring of Minerva
Chapter Nineteen: An Imperfect World
Chapter Twenty: A Difficult Decision
Chapter Twenty One: Finding David
Chapter Twenty Two: Romans in Town
Chapter Twenty Three: Finding Lydia
Chapter Twenty Four: Cinema Paradiso
©Copyright 2018Ronald Ritter & Sussan Evermore
The right of Ronald Ritter & Sussan Evermore to be identified as authors of this work has been asserted in accordance with Sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Acts 1988.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission from the above mentioned authors.
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Table Of Contents
Introduction toUnder Spello Sky
A difficult divorce and attack by her husband has left Jennifer Gubbini with a serious facial disfigurement that keeps her hidden away in the small Victorian seaside town of Port Fairy.
On the day she decides to end it all a letter arrives from a solicitor in Italy informing she has inherited her Grandfather's casa in the hilltop town of Spello.
Jennifer begins to have mysterious visions from an ancient Roman Goddess that foretells the possibility of finding love in the birthplace of her father.
Arriving in Spello to claim her inheritance she meets David, emotionally scarred by the Afghanistan war. Although not romantically interested she finds him a welcome friend. However she meets local author Paolo, fascinating and alluring and begins to fall in love. In a town of whispers there is a secret in the Gubbini family that will change her life forever.
Guided by her Goddess to the place of Sanctuary overlooking the ancient lakes of the Umbrian heartland Jennifer is taken on a journey of love and self-discovery.
Join Jennifer among olive groves, Norberto monks and ancient marble stone alleyways in the magical hilltop town of Spello. Where, on one star filled night among family and friends she will be granted her wish.
Chapter OneFinding Spello Sky
I quickly get changed, put the kettle on for a cup of coffee before sitting down and calling my best friend to share my good news and fortuitous life.
"Hi Lydia, you won't believe what has happened to me? Never in a million years will you guess."
"Hey girlfriend, what has happened to you? I haven't heard you this happy for a long time. Bring it on. What’s your good news?"
"Looks like I've inherited a house in Italy. I have Lawyers documents here telling me to go to Italy and take possession."
"No way! Get away! Are you serious?"
"Yes, absolutely serious. I'm not drunk you know."
"No, that much I know. Mind you, what you've gone through would have tipped most people into the bottom of a bottle! So tell me more."
"Well, my Grandfather left his house in Spello to his son But Dad passed away about a year ago. The legal system in Italy took too long and in turn, Dad has died during the process, so the inheritance is passed to me as the only child." I felt the excitement rising inside me like a bottle of champagne ready to pop.
"I can't believe it Jennifer. I'm so happy for you. Nicholas will be thrilled for your good news. Where is your house?"
"Spello, it's in Umbria. Just down the road from Assisi."
"Oh really, Assisi. Wow, that's got to be the pilgrimage town of Saint Francis of Assisi. I am blown away. Hey Jen, don’t forget your friends."
"You’re both at the top of the list. I promise."
"Bravo Jennifer, bravo."
The words are ringing down the phone and into my ears like musical chimes.
"We really want to visit you in Italy. Grape vines hanging over an outdoor balcony, long gastronomical lunches and glasses of red while watching sexy young Italian men riding up and down the cobbled streets on their Vespa's. Yes. Yes, La Dolce Vita."
I finish the phone call and feel different. Walking back into my bedroom, I open the wardrobe, fan through my clothes and choose jeans and a pink sloppy joe top. Canvas sneakers and of course my best friend, the paisley scarf. It's time to go for a long walk on the beach to collect my thoughts. I bring to life in my imagination, a waitress serving a black coffee and croissant to my table while I casually watch the villagers go about their day to day lives. People watching can be a pleasant pastime. Somewhere deep inside me, I understand God has awoken the old Jennifer and she is feeling pretty good.
Over the next couple of days, I email the Lawyer in Foligno to inform him Corrado Gubbini has passed away and I am his only child. I expect to inherit the property but can't be sure how long it will take. A tourist visa is only ninety days, so fingers crossed; it will be done in that time.
I book my flight from Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne to Fiumicino Airport in Rome departing the following Monday.
Printing the ticket gives me goose bumps that I'm really going to Italy. When I smile, the skin pulls across my scar reminding me of its uneasy presence but somehow it's no longer my first thought.
I didn't think packing my suitcase would be so difficult. I agonize over harem loose pants or track pants to wear on the plane. If this was my only problem, life would be a breeze.
But life hasn't been a breeze but at least I'm still alive. I don't know where life is taking me but it's better than where I've been.
Chapter TwoA Dire Situation
The lightning flashes over Mount Subasio, a neon message from the gods. I count the seconds, one, two, three, and the crack of thunder arrives on time. The window seems to shudder a little, a small sliver of cracked white paint flakes off and falls in slow motion to the floor. Rain is pelting down on narrow alleyways of Roman marble and rivulets of water become fast flowing streams that disappear into the night.
From time to time, I imagine Roman legionaries desperately defending the city against the merciless armies of the Visigoths. I watch in my dreams as Norberto, the fanciful painter, famous for his artwork of little monks is born a few hundred meters from where I lay.
There is a sacred secret in my little Umbrian hilltop town of Spello, something so deep and delightful that it has changed who I am forever.
But my story begins back in Port Fairy, a small coastal town on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, where I sit watching seagulls and mutton bird's rise and fall above the swell of the deep Southern Ocean. I stare out at the horizon and sigh, I wish someone would love me again.
As a small child, I remember the way my mother stroked my forehead before tucking me into bed each night in our little cottage in Fawkner. There were rows of quaint little post war weatherboard homes with neatly painted white picket fences. My childhood memories come flooding back, hot summer nights filled with attack mosquitoes preying on defenseless children like me. It was a simple life where Mum and Dad sat outside on aluminum fold away chairs with cold beers plucked from an ice filled Esky within easy reach.
"How good is this?" Dad would say before taking the top off another stubby. How could I forget the grey metallic GE table fan whizzing in the background pushing hot air to the dizzy heights of suffocation around the living room until we moved to the backyard and waited for a cool breeze.
"Okay, everyone outside" Dad's voice would call with authority as he struggled with the Philips television and the extension cord. Sitting on the prickly grass, we watched re-runs of Gilligan's Island. We knew the telly would muck up sooner or later with the Skipper's image rolling vertically down the length of the screen until Dad got up from his seat, a cigarette between two nicotine stained fingers and a beer in the same hand whacking the side of the television set until Gilligan's head stopped rolling and smiled at us again.
Sometimes happiness can be quite simple. I close my eyes and think, 'I pray for a simple life again'. But if I had wanted a simple life, I guess I should never have married Petar.
There was no happy marital bliss, just pain and a bitter divorce. During my darkest moments I wished someone had given me a handful of mind altering drugs to help erase the memories. But no, I didn't have any and the memories are still here. God is unforgiving.
My thoughts return to the tiny kitchen of a holiday home perched on the hill with sweeping sea views. It's an old weatherboard shack built in the 60's, there is no luxury. However, any luxury would be wasted on me at the moment.
I look down at my cup of hot coffee which I cradle in both hands and realize it's burning me. Without putting it down, I wonder how much pain people can actually take. How long can I hold the hot coffee before the pain would force me to put it down?
My best friend Lydia, in her loving Buddhist ways tells me, 'We are all responsible for what happens in this life' but I can't believe her. I was bought up Catholic and must believe in punishment for my sins. But I ask every day, 'What did I do to deserve this savaged face? Did I miss Sunday school too many times or not tell the priest of my sexual fantasies at confession? How quickly I have Iost my religion?’ The questions float around inside my head every waking moment.
I walk the quiet beach every day but it doesn't answer any of my questions. Today, an abnormally large mutton bird suddenly rises above the sand dunes breaking my concentration and looks at me as if it knows my questions before swooping and disappearing into a prickly hedge of wild scrub. I wonder if it's a message from God. 'Lord, what are you trying to tell me?'
My days are repetitious, I rise at six and watch the morning news with disappointment before dragging myself like an old drunk into the bathroom.
The bathroom mirror doesn't lie as the reflection of a sad and sorry face greets me. I hardly recognize myself anymore, if this scar were running down the face of a man, it would be a trophy of braveness or courage in combat. But for me, the perfectly curved scar is a reminder of someone I so want to forget. I am hardly able to believe how my beautiful face is now host to a scar that runs from below my left eye and all the way down to my chin. My eyes shift to pursed lips which express the injustice of it all.
My left eye struggled to survive the attack but thankfully did, which is more than I can say for the rest of me. I brush my shoulder length brunette hair with a vengeance to one side trying in vain to cover a scarred cheek.
Walking back to the timber kitchen table I stare at the ocean swell in a trance asking God again to take me away from the horrid memories which I cannot erase. Tears stream down my cheeks like a waterfall on the first day of spring.
I have cramping pains below my stomach, my doctor tells me, 'It's the start of menopause Jennifer, there is nothing wrong with you and your symptoms are completely normal.' Dr. Terry tries to reassure me. But my silent thoughts differ, 'It's just another punishment for being a woman, it's so unfair.'
Thankfully, Lydia rings every morning from Melbourne at seven, she is a darling, an adopted sister and my best friend. If only I could have married Lydia but I'm not wired that way. I can't even imagine what happens in bed with another woman. Would lips fondle lips in all the hidden places of femininity, twisting and gyrating? Maybe I could. Maybe I could be talked around? But then, maybe I couldn't and I will put these thoughts aside, probably forever.
In my solitude, I don't want to be interrupted by the outside world which I have left behind for the time being. The phone vibrates and I see the name on the screen and pick it up immediately.
"Hi Jennifer lovely." The familiar voice is a welcoming song.
Lydia is a darling who always calls me lovely. I used to be lovely and maybe even pretty before he punished me.
"Lydia I love you but I can't marry you. I would if I could but I can't."
"Of course you can't silly woman. I am married to Nicholas, who wants to marry you." She laughs and I want so much to laugh with her. I know she wants to take away my pain, as a good friend should.
"You are both crazy Lydia and that's why I love you so much."
An emotional lump swells in my throat and a tear slowly rolls down my face and into my mouth, and for a moment, the saltiness is tasty.
"Lydia I can't do this anymore. You know Petar only served fifteen months in jail for what he did to me. He will have freedom but I am destroyed, nobody will love me again. You have seen my face. No one will love me, no one!"
"Jennifer calm down, there is someone out there for you, but he won't reveal himself until you are ready."
Another Buddhist pearl of wisdom is gifted to me from the only person I trust.
Lydia continues, "You know the surgeon said he can help but you need to give your face time as the scar will change during each stage of its natural healing. Remember when it was red and swollen?"
I did but remained silent wanting Lydia's motherly voice to continue soothing me.
"The cut was deep and the surgeon said he hadn't seen such a deep facial wound other than an industrial accident. The wound has to settle before he can successfully perform cosmetic surgery. I understand your pain, I really do lovely. Don't worry you will be beautiful again. I mean more beautiful. Oh, you know what I mean don't you?"
"No not really, he claimed he could make me look better but he can't bring back the old Jennifer." I waited for Lydia to reply but the phone was silent. "You know I didn't believe him because I saw his face twitch while his finger traced my scar. I know what he's thinking and not saying."
I feel exhausted by the conversation, my emotions are drained, so I change the subject, "Lydia, Port Fairy is such a tranquil and beautiful place, the fishing boats and the quaint harbor are healing. But I think I'm really hiding here out of fear of never having my life back. Oh Lydia, somedays I just can't take it anymore. I want God to take me away but he's not listening. I've prayed to the Madonna most of my life, surely that's worth something?" I hear the desperation in my own voice.
"Jennifer, we will come on the weekend, have dinner at the pub, drink some wine, talk a load of rubbish and get you laughing again. Now don't go anywhere or do anything silly because we love you and we're on our way. Girlfriend, this weekend you entertain us!"
Lydia hung up before I could say no and I realize how precious my one friend in the world is. Even if the surgeon can repair my face, the hurt inside will probably stay with me forever.
I push the crystal salt and pepper shakers to the edge of the kitchen table to make room to spread the twenty paperbacks left here to read. I pick up each one and meticulously read what the book is about on the back cover, some stories are sad, some happy and one book waffles on about shades of bondage but none speak of hope.
At school I read a book for an essay which took me away from everything I knew, it was Orlando. Virginia Woolfs words explored the life and times of a man who would wake up as a woman but upon sleeping become a man again. It confronted and scared me that God could have confused the authoress into blending the sexes. I became Virginia's most loyal fan but her death puzzled me to why she filled her coat pockets with heavy rocks and waded into the cold waters of the River Ouse near her cottage, never to return.
How strange I thought at the time but now I'm beginning to understand her state of mind. If God is willing to help me and open up some sort of parallel universe to walk through, then so be it, but if not, I will happily follow Virginia into the next world.
In most ways, I'm hiding out in Port Fairy. I can't believe what has just happened, which adds insult to injury; the postman is taking a fancy to me because I'm new in town. Could I ever imagine? Instead of placing the letters in the mailbox at the front of the ocean road, he switches off the engine of his motor bike and looks up at the house. Somewhere in his imagination, he's probably thinking there’s a chance of a dalliance with me. Single woman, living alone in an isolated house just out of town, there is no other reason why he walks the forty steps up the hill to knock on the screen door to hand deliver my mail. Sometimes I open the door but mostly I leave him on the other side to push the letters under the door.
But he seemed nice and very polite when he introduced himself, "My name is Jack Devine, I'm the local postie for this area and I know everyone. If there is anything you need, just ask. And I mean anything." It was the last anything that caught my attention as I've heard that once before from a co-worker who wanted to have a bit of fun on the side when I was married. At the time I said, 'As if I need two idiots in my life.'
But Jack, the postie is an ordinary bloke of beer and football, not that there's anything wrong with that. His wife got up and left him without even leaving a note. Maybe she heard the mystical sirens in the deep blue waves of Port Fairy calling her to a higher place. No, that didn't happen. Mrs Devine left with the bass player of the rock and roll band 'Coyote' as they passed through the local pub one Saturday night. Jack never heard from her again. If Mrs Devine was born twenty years earlier, she would have run off with the lion-tamer at the circus!
Nevertheless I could never imagine a life with Jack, sitting and staring out at the ocean with sunken glazed eyes, a curvy scar, long legs and motherly breasts like a Picasso. I know with Jack, I would be itching to take off with the first bass player leaving town.
I always wear a patterned scarf draped down the left side of my face so no one sees my disfigurement. When Jack comes to the house to deliver the mail, he tries to get a closer look but sees nothing, poor bastard. But I'm good at hiding in the shadows. When he tries to peer passed my scarf, I just say, 'wind and sand, I have delicate skin.' He's a sweet man until he starts telling me about his wife who went AWOL and little bits of twaddle about the people down the road, he calls arty-farty nudists. I never get drawn into a conversation which starts with nudity.
Living in a small country town is filled with ordinariness and routine, so when I look across at the kitchen clock at 2pm I know within minutes the roaring high pitched two stroke engine of Jack's motorcycle will be coming up the road.
The engine is cut and I know he's making his way up the steps to my front door to hand deliver the mail. I reach the screen door before he knocks. I resemble a half-birthed nun with a paisley scarf partially covering my face. "Hello Jack, what do you have for me today?" I speak through the insect screen door but never invite him in so our chats last no more than a few polite seconds. Occasionally I fake a spasm down the side of my face to cut the conversation short. Jack never asks questions so I've never had to explain.
A few weeks have passed since Lydia and Nicholas came to talk of love and Buddhism. Even with the belief of life after death, they said not to do anything silly and ask God for help.
But I'm fairly spent emotionally and since God hasn't helped, probably because I am a lapsed Catholic, I have begun to ask for another divine intervention. If no one speaks to me I will decide to let the ocean be my savior. I don't know how or when, but I've started to consider my options.
Early one Saturday night I pluck up courage to stroll down to the local pub, everyone calls The Stump, only to discover the regular band has been replaced by twenty obnoxious looking poker machines. They are shiny gold metallic robots with bright colorful lights, bells and whistles from hell with a jackpot. There is no good time rock and roll band, no music, no nothing, just a few pensioners and some down and outers which now include me. What a let-down, so back home I go dragging my sorry-self.
Looking back over my shoulder as I walk along the foreshore, the pub has its lights on but looks abandoned with no signs of life or people sitting outside telling yarns and drinking pots of beer. Life has changed for the watering hole with the pokies leeching money from desperate pockets. Every day, I feel life is being leeched out of me.
Today I break with routine and walk towards town crossing the Moyne River foot bridge into the main street. I am hoping to feel better about myself, convinced I need another coat, but not a new one, that would be too extravagant but I would feel uplifted with a pre-loved coat. My mother used to say, "Don't go wearing someone else's clothes or you'll become like them." The way I feel today, anyone's life would be better than mine. I'm keen to look at what's on the rack. The familiar purple facade of the Vinnie's charity shop comes into view and I see wire baskets of oddments on the footpath. I look in hope of finding a bargain but the handbags have traveled far and carried much, they're all a bit shabby and faded.
The bell above the door rings as I enter. The hardly seventeen year old girl starts to look up but doesn't make it and her eyes return to reading messages on her phone. I can't help but notice her largish stomach resting on the counter; I hope she is pregnant but don't want to think too much about the alternative.
I start to lose myself among the rows of jackets, shirts and pants, but the smell of tightly packed clothes and lack of fresh air in the tiny shop reminds me of exactly where I am. Slicing my hands between the garments I can't find anything, not even a half ordinary coat.
The out of shape girl is oblivious to me as she stares at her phone. I can't help noticing her Elvira vampire fingernails tapping the keys like a crazed person under the spell of the full moon. I don't want to be cynical but I feel invisible.
However, I do find something I can use, an old fashion cotton apron with a pocket, a big pocket which I can fill to help me on my way.
"Three dollars, its pensioner day" Elvira finally speaks and takes my money before handing me the apron stuffed in a crumpled plastic bag.
The walk home is a blur and in the quietness of the night my thoughts keep me awake. I lie in bed with the moonlight outlining the old veneer furniture in the bedroom. It takes me a while to fall asleep because I'm talking to the walls and planning my last day.
At fifty two years old, I'm scared, scarred and definitely not spicy anymore. In my younger years, I was vivacious, pretty, popular and attracted to my husband who was tall, athletic, handsome and good in bed. He was a sports identity, a footballer, a lady's man and my friends tried to warn me off him but I wouldn't listen. No, I wanted to marry Petar with every fiber in my body and that was my mistake. I set myself up for a life of walking on egg shells and trying to avoid caustic remarks or his repetitive self-indulged stories.
"Did you know I came third in the Brownlow medal? I was the best of the best." Petar said out aloud with pride.
"Yes, you have mentioned it once or twice." My answers were carefully worded so not to ignite his temper. Dinner parties, social events and meeting new people motivated his desire to tell the same stories over and over. Our years together felt like a haze as life became difficult.
His corporate world gave permission for heavy drinking, part of the culture at the top. He was too successful as an advertising agent and I was only a humble teacher who could not compete. I loved my work with children and would have done it for free. But in my husband's eyes I was weak working for the public service. I really don't know why he didn't marry a poster girl from the football club as there was enough hanging around trying to bag a footballer. Petar said I have great breasts. How sad for me.
But a year ago, our world turned ugly. He arrived home from a football match where he had joined old buddies to celebrate the club victory. He walked into the kitchen glaring at me. Oh, I knew something was coming, I could feel it. His face was twisted and inside he was about to unleash hell as his tongue began to lash across his bottom lip, "Jennifer, I'm sick of looking at your sad face everyday!" He was leaning on the kitchen bench while I was cutting vegetables. His breath reeked of booze, how I hated those moments.
"Go to the Doctor and get some pills! Do something! I can't live every day looking at your miserable face."
His face became taut and once alluring blue eyes turned icy cold. I'd seen this many times in my married life and my stomach twisted and felt nauseas.'I can't take this anymore' the words echoed inside my head.
My stomach pushed upwards and I swear I was going to vomit but instead I blurted, "Petar I'm leaving you. I've had it with your screaming, your insults and blaming me for everything that is wrong between us. You know what, when you don't get your way, you disappear all night down at the Casino saying you're out doing business. Well that's just bullshit and you stink of who you have become." I felt my heart beating hard while my face burned with anger.
The kitchen was silent to my relief until his face turned a devilish red. The pupils in his blue eyes dilated as sanity left and an evil began to savor my fear. I was chilled to the bone not wanting to know what comes next.
He shoves passed me and grabs the razor sharp filleting knife on the sink and threatens me. It happened in the blink of an eye, like a magician performing a conjuring trick of 'now you see it, now you don't.'
He raised his arm as I closed my eyes and stood motionless awaiting the pain of his hand to strike my face but felt nothing. Opening my eyes with a sense of relief was soon replaced by a sense of disbelief. I knew something was wrong as blood spilled onto my peach colored shirt and dripped onto the floor. I could feel something weighted on my face and put my hand up to feel what it was. My mind froze when I felt a loose slab of cheek hanging from my face.
"What have you done Petar? What have you fucking done?" My words were piercing.
He stood fixated on my face without blinking, "Now, that's your lesson for upsetting me Jennifer. You made me do this, you know that."
I stared blankly at him, in a state of shock, as a smile crept across his face in a warped triumph.
But now my head was light and I couldn't focus properly. Everything around me was a slow motion movie and I remember trying to hold my loose cheek to my face as I was quite mesmerized by the pool of bright red blood forming on the floor. The faintness started to overwhelm me as I closed my eyes and felt my legs collapse underneath me.
To his credit, if it's any concession, Petar rang the Emergency line for an ambulance. I heard his words fading in and out in the background.
"Hello, there has been an accident, please come quickly."
The last thought I had before passing out was 'bastard'.
I could hear a woman's voice calling.
"Quickly, she's going into shock" and then felt a prick into my upper arm. During all the commotion I had a very strange dream. I saw an image of a couple dressed from ancient Roman times. They seemed happy and were drinking from a fountain when suddenly the woman in my dream looked over her shoulder as if she knew I was watching her. The woman wearing a long flowing red dress reached out to me.
Next thing I know, I'm being shaken and a male voice demanding.
"Jennifer, Jennifer, you must wake up. You are in the hospital, do you remember what happened? Your husband is here, he says you had an accident."
My eyelids struggle to open and I try hard to make sense of what I'm seeing. The lights in the room are blinding, everything is white and I don't know where I am.
Then it hits me that I'm lying in a hospital bed, a curtained screen is closed and the faces of strangers are peering down at me. Suddenly I feel the pain, yes, lots of pain down the side of my face. There is a towel or a wad of bandages but I can't see passed them. It feels like a bad dream until I remember I was attacked by my husband.
I blurted out in my panic, "He tried to kill me. Get him away from me!"
"Nurse, please take Mr Babich outside!" The doctor's voice was firm and commanding as he looked at Petar to follow his instructions without question.
"Wait, you don't understand. I'm her husband and she is not thinking straight at the moment. She doesn't know what she's saying." Petar is adamant to stay.
But the doctor warned, "This is my hospital, my domain and my rules Mr Babich and you will leave before security is called."
The hospital staff escorted Petar from the emergency room and the nurse logged a call to the police.
The court appearance a few months later was the last time I saw Petar. The court ruled my husband was guilty of assault and battery with the intent to injure. He was sentenced to four years jail but with good behavior could be released as early as two. The day of the court case, I promised myself it would be the last day I would ever see him again in my life!
The divorce lawyer did everything by mail and when the papers arrived, I ripped open the envelope; put my signature in all the places marked 'sign here' and sent them by express post. Three months later, I received my decree nisi and thought, 'what a waste'.
I remembered the court verdict feeling like a victory but in another way, it wasn't, because I wear this scar.
Lydia says not to worry because the cosmetic surgeon will fix my disfigured face but no one understands the hurt that lies deep inside me like a predator ready to strike and violate my thoughts.
I'm fifty two and my life is crap. Now I'm going through menopause with damn night sweats, infrequent blood loss and horrible thoughts of despair and bouts of tears. I feel like a train wreck.
It's seven in the morning and the sun creeps through the curtains on the last day of my life. It's funny how, at last, I'm at peace and forgiving everyone who has wronged me.
For the first time in my life, I feel in control as I reach for the charity special single pocket white apron. It needs a bit of stitching but there's no need for that now. I loop the apron over my head and knot the ties behind my back. I must remember to leave my goodbye note.
With the serenity of a monastic nun, I walk to the beach in front of the cottage where I live.
My eyes are searching the ground for stones to pick up and fill the apron pocket. The more I collect, the heavier the pocket becomes and I have to carry it now like a baby. I'm sure a baby would be heavy, but I wouldn't know, I never had that blessing. The stones are becoming a burden and I wonder how I'm going to make it to the water's edge and into the rolling surf. But I have to be sure I will sink so I keep collecting more stones.
I'm in a world of my own thoughts when the strangest thing happens. Jack the postie pulls up about five meters away from me and switches off his motorcycle. He notices I'm crouching down like a pecking hen which probably looks quite silly. Jack may be thinking I'm having a pee while out for a walk. Nevertheless, he yells out at the top of his voice, "Jennifer you have a large yellow envelope from Italy. Beautiful stamps of old cars and bicycles all over it, I will bring it over to you."
"Jack, stay there, I'll come to you." I turn in his direction while mumbling, 'Shit, I can hardly walk with an apron full of stones. Shit, God give me a break!'
The last few words dribble out with dread, I stand up and the pocket stitching of the apron splits and sends the heavy load of stones raining down on my feet. I bite my lip not wanting to explain as my eyes look up at Jack.
He's now staring two meters away from me trying to fathom what I'm doing while hearing, "Fuck, fuck, bloody fuck. Bastard old woman apron, bastard!"
"Are you alright?" Jack has a hesitant look on his face, wondering if he really wants to know the answer.
"Of course I'm not fucking alright. Just look at me. Do I look alright?"
"Well, not really."
"I've got tears running down my fucked up face and you want to know if I'm alright. I'm not bloody alright, alright!"
"Alright" Jack is unsure whether to approach a ranting mad woman.
"Well, don't just stand there, give me the fucking envelope."
I'm angry he has interrupted my day. I planned to drown myself and now my stones are spilt all over the ground because the stupid bloody pocket of this damn cheap-arse apron has ripped.
Jacks looks at me not knowing whether to laugh, cry or say something sympathetic but decides to continue, "Okay here's your lawyer's letter from Umbria in Italy."
"Lawyer's letter? I haven't done anything wrong." My voice is loud and confused.
"You must sign for it, registered mail and all that." He passes the plump yellow envelope.
"Jack, it's all in Italian. How do you know it's a lawyer’s letter?"
"Old Luigi, the wog down the road, spotted it in my bag and read it out aloud to me. Sorry I thought I was helping."
This is all too much. The day is now a bloody right-off as I'll be spending the rest of the afternoon on Google Translate.
Jack stands waiting for me to open the envelope as he's filled with curiosity.
"Thanks Jack. Now get back on your delivery bike and fuck off."
That's enough of life's shitty moments for one day, maybe I'll try with more stones tomorrow. My mind is filled with curiosity as I fondle the envelope. But the obvious question is 'Who in God's name would send me a registered letter from Umbria, Italy?'
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