She Should Be Here Soon


Excerpt from Death Of A Serpent

Wednesday, October 24, 1866

The whole family sat together on the sofa, younger children piled on top of older laps. Horsehair tufted from a hole in one of the cushions.

“You touched me,” Maria said.

“Did not!” Totò held his finger out, almost, but not quite touching Maria’s arm.

“Did so! Get away!”

“Did not!”


“But he’s rolling his train on my leg!”

“Totò!” Serafina looked up at the crucifix. She heard children’s voices. They grew louder.

“Can I go outside and play?” Totò asked.

“It’s raining,” Giulia said.

“But they’re outside. See?” He pointed to the window. A line of children marched up the walk. “Can I?”


“Anyway, they’re orphans.” Maria pushed up her spectacles.


“Orphans can do anything they want. They live here,” Maria said. “And tell him not to roll his toy on me ever again.”

“On the rug, Totò,” Renata said.

“And be quiet.” Vicenzu brushed lint from his lapels. “She should be here soon. We’re early, as usual.” He shot a glance at Serafina.

Photo: Taormina. Credit: gnuckx (Flickr), Creative Commons.

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