Marveling at Echoes and Mists

Aqueduct in Palermo_by Notre Dame ArchitectureExcerpt from Death In Bagheria, a work in progress

Thursday, March 24, 1870

On their way down from the roof, Serafina and Rosa took the main staircase, stopping on the second floor to admire the ballroom and its three crystal chandeliers suspended from a vaulted ceiling, the walls made of red marble with decorative inlay. Except for four small parlors off either end, the room, devoid of furniture, took up the whole floor.

“Look at those,” Rosa pointed to the corner blocks of the crown molding. Each one contained a cupid holding a torch. They laughed at the excess, then at the echoes of their laughter, listening until the last remnant rolled away. Serafina stood for a moment, marveling at echoes and mists and how truths that she’d initially felt with such force and clarity soon bounced off the walls of her mind, becoming vaporous, softening of sound and meaning before evaporating.

On the far wall, velvet drapes flanked French doors leading to balconies that overlooked the front of the house and the sea. Their footsteps reverberated on the parquet floor as they walked the width of the room and stepped outside. She and Rosa gazed at the baron’s ship, astonished at its swift progress, now little more than a speck in the vastness. Both stacks were blowing smoke and its sails were unfurled, catching the purple and red shadows from the setting sun. They watched for a moment longer until it faded into distance.

Photo: Aqueduct in Palermo, c1900. Credit: Notre Dame Architecture (Flickr), Creative Commons.

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