Her Horrid Behavior

prickly pears sea_600_ taormina - Version 2

Excerpt from Death Of A Serpent

Tuesday, October 16, 1866

The next few days were a blur. When she wasn’t delivering babies, Serafina helped her children with their schoolwork, accompanied Renata to market, went with Maria to her lessons, or watched Giulia sew their garments. Evenings, she spent in her mother’s room on the third floor where she read, thought, frowned up at the stars.

Despite her best attempts to banish it from her mind, Serafina could not forget her horrid behavior the other day after Vicenzu berated her for spending too much money on fabric. He showed her the ledger, and her face flushed. While he chattered on about red ink, Renata clattered in the kitchen. It was all too much, what with the domestic shuffling back and forth, and Maria playing her scales, and Totò racing around the room like a wild specter. Something inside her snapped. “Enough!” she yelled, slamming a platter to the floor. Shards of porcelain flew all over the kitchen, and she saw fear, real fear, in her children’s faces. It must never happen again, never.

Photo: Prickly Pears by the Sea, near Taormina, Sicily.

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