I arrived in Rome three days late, unaware of the status of the rest of the group. I checked into the hotel Diana, surprisingly jet lagged, and when I got to my room looked out of the window to the softly lit Roman streets, noticing the power in the walls and the swaying blue aura of those who lived inside them. I remembered that the group would be in Naples until the night, so I exhaled, and decided to go out for breakfast, but I was craving lunch. Lunch was impossible because of the time, and I accepted the change gladly and continued to walk. None of the restaurants were open yet. Light men set up the tables along the sidewalk, occasionally nodding to me as I strolled. I was not able to get coffee even, but the breeze satiated all of the hunger well enough.
I planned to walk as far as I could, but while rounding a corner, out of the side of my eye I saw the colosseum standing halfway majestic at the end of the avenue. I adjusted my direction and went over to the railing where many of the tourists looked, too. I also gazed, but not at the colosseum. It was toward a ruined sideshow arena that my vision was held, observing, as if it were a scene, the ghosts of Roman history dance powerfully for the gods to which they prayed. The grass was tall and blew gently. It surrounded the ruined stone like a rich man’s Scottish hill. I turned around quietly and went back to the hotel to go to sleep.
When I awakened, it was late at night, and I had received a message from a member of the group, Charlotte, that they were waiting for me at an Irish pub at the end of the Via Principe de Amedeo. I was black alright, but I gathered myself and began to walk toward the end of the avenue. The streets were empty and quiet. The streetlights were on, casting an awkward glow onto the pavement. I thought that I would greet the group immediately, but they were hidden inside of the pub. I did not speak Italian and therefore did not inquire about their location. I ordered a glass of red wine, set two coins onto the tray, and sat down to observe the people in the pub. They were all average. Eventually, I got up to search for the group. I began to look foolish, so I sat back down before I became impatient. I resumed my search, and this time, as I was rounding a pillar into a smaller section of the large pub, I accidentally bumped into a woman and apologized, standardly. We simultaneously snapped out of our social politeness, and realized we were who we had been searching for tonight. It was Charlotte. We laughed, and she introduced me to the rest of the group formally since we were now in Rome and everything was new.
None of them mattered at all besides the girl I sat across from. She gave me the eyes.
“How is Rome,” she asked.
“Wonderful,” I said. “It’s a very powerful city.”
“It is. Have a drink.”
I drank some of hers and ordered a tall beer. She looked at me again. Formerly, I had not set eyes upon her once. Before the trip, we attended preliminary meetings and sat next to one another, but I was intimidated, because she seemed liked the only real one there.
We all played inside of the old pub a bit, paid, then stepped outside to smoke. She and another girl I began to want stood at my shoulders, one on each side, touching my face and my shirt. I was drunk, and I was thinking a lot.
As it all dwindled, we made our way back to the hotel. Everyone said goodnight until it was only us two outside the front of the hotel. The expanse of darkness around us was threatening, and she pinned me against the wall. She whispered many things to which I made no reply. We kissed, and that excited her greatly. We kept kissing. I said nothing because I was unable to speak.
“You’re so cute”, she said. “Do you like me? No, you don’t have to answer that. But tell me you do. Don’t you? Oh my god, what if they see. I don’t care,” she continued. “They can see. You’re mine, and I’ll make you mine anyway. I know you want this, and I’ve been waiting.”
“Let’s go upstairs,” I said.
That I was able to utter anything was astounding. It took everything. When we got to her room, we went into the bathroom and turned on the light. She sat on top of the sink and we kissed. I tried to go further, but I went completely black.
“I’m too tired,” I said. “I have to go back to my room.”
“Okay, I understand. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I made it back to my room by faith alone. I opened the door and went immediately to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror to assess.
“Okay,” I said. “It happened and it was when you thought you were going to fade. It’s here, and what are you going to do? She likes you, that’s obvious, and it doesn’t matter if you like her, because you are going to be with her on this trip, no matter how dark you get.”