The Italian Laundromat

3 Mar

cover_pageDonatella studied the repulsive face of the man sitting at her dining table, shoveling chunks of lasagna in his mouth. She considered closely what he had just told her.  “I have a surprise for you.”

What surprise?

After stating these words, he continued eating, as if he had wanted to plant the seeds in her mind then tend to whatever they sprouted later, after he satiated his hunger. With his mouth open and chewing loudly, his nicotine-stained teeth were a sickening shade of sulfur-yellow.

She squeezed her brain to remember what exactly she had found attractive about this man twenty-four years ago. His hair had thinned where it mattered, and grown profusely where it repulsed her most—on his back, out of his ears, and in his nostrils. Mauro had aged quickly and with little grace. He had let himself go.

What happened to the Neapolitan heartthrob who had walked into papa’s gelateria and made a woman out of me?

Mauro was the first man to lust after her when she was a homely teenager. She had a flat chest and androgynous features. The other girls ridiculed her, and boys just skipped over her like she was the steamed vegetables option on the menu. But Mauro was different. Apparently, he had seen something in her. His powder-blue eyes had pried her out of her shy, insecure clam. And his strong, ripped body, bursting out of the tight shirts he liked to wear, had tugged at her heartstrings. Something about the way he used to stare at her with one dirty thing on his mind had unleashed a flutter of emotions in her heart. And a yearning of the flesh in her body and soul, the likes of which she had never known.

Every Tuesday when she was alone at the gelateria, Mauro would come by for a zabaione cornetto after lunch. Not long after, he started coming back every day. Slowly he unwrapped her until he finally reached her core and left her with no option but to surrender to him—in the name of love, desire, or some other madness that had taken over her body but which her mind was yet to find a name for.

At first, it was slow-burning kisses behind the counter during lunch breaks when traffic at the gelateria was low. His tongue would leave no part of her body unexplored. His expert hands, and the way he knew exactly what to do with a woman felt like a tornado of desire pummeling through her inexperienced, hungry body. Then, they started locking up the gelateria and shacked up in the back to do more daring things. And before long he finally took her. On the floor between large sacks of white sugar, two naked, sweaty bodies were fused. Mauro’s pelvis pounded her hard as her lustful screams were drowned by the sound of whole milk churning in steel drums.

She blossomed after that. Like a curse had been lifted. The angular lines and plain contours of her teenage years quickly morphed into soft curves and womanly swells in all the right places. She grew her hair and her boyish face transformed, eradicating the looks of doubt she used to see in people’s eyes wondering “what” she was.

Against her family’s will, Mauro had convinced Donatella to elope with him to Rome in the dead of the night. They would start a family together. He’d work as a mechanic at his uncle’s auto repair shop until he had enough money to open up his own place. And she would stay at home to raise the children, one of whom was already growing inside her. A boy. Mauro promised her a life of material comfort away from the gang violence and shattered dreams of Napoli.

Now, a whole quarter of a century later, the man she had fallen in love with was but a stranger living under the same roof. What possible surprise could he have in store for her now? She’d seen all of his “surprises” and they were usually the sort that left her cut open. In our twenty-four years together, he never remembered my birthday let alone our anniversary. Never once did Mauro impulsively bring home some flowers or perform any gesture of unconditional gratitude. He was the sort of man whose ability to take was bottomless, but gave nothing in return except pain.

You can continue reading this story by purchasing the eBook on Amazon for $2.99.


3 Responses to “The Italian Laundromat”


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