Have you even written for a while and looked back at your word count with an estimated number in mind only to find yourself a thousand or so short? Hmph. But I realized I was doing some research, too, so I guess that counted against my time. BAH!

I’m currently reading a book recommended to me by one of my Heather friends: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. It’s in a Russian-style setting and I am really enjoying the break from traditional England-fantasy. That’s how I feel about this story.

That said, I felt inspired to work on the Venice piece again! 619 new words and I explored the setting a bit more, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and I hope you do, too.

Davide sat on the edge of the bed, waking me. I had no grogginess or fatigue in me, but opened my eyes immediately, focused on his face, on his mouth. What was he going to say?

“I have food for you.”

My stomach rumbled and we both smiled hesitantly. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be amused. How could I be? I remembered my father’s bloody knife and my smile faded. Davide’s slid from his face as well and he stood. I threw back the quilt and stood. He handed me his robe and we went into the kitchen. It was small, but I liked Davide’s kitchen. He had a window and plants and spices and better than all else: it had absolutely nothing in common with mine. Nothing to trigger memories.

He handed me a small ceramic cup and I sipped, feeling the burn of the pinèt’i across my tongue and cheeks. Father had only let me try it twice, and I realized now it had been watered down, even then. I was glad I had known enough to sip.

My eyes watered and Davide chuckled. “I forgot. Would you prefer something softer?”

I took another sip. “Cinnamon?” I asked. “Some kind of berry, too?”

He grinned. “Ask the grandmothers how it is made – they are the only ones who know.” He set a small bowl on the table and I perched on a low stool. I took a small piece of yesterday’s bread and scooped through the bowl of ink-blackened vold. I winced. Davide liked his vinegar, but I soon adjusted to the strength. Davide set down a plate of round cofget as he joined me and I greedily accepted one. These, I knew, would be perfect; he had his father’s recipe, coveted across the island. They used the same fish and breading as anyone else might, but something about his spices was divine.

“Father’s cofget goes well with the pinèt’i, but if you aren’t used to the strength…”

“I’ll have another sip,” I said.

“I could get you a taste of wine,” he suggested.

I waved him off and took another bite, and then a small sip. It was quite good, but I didn’t have Davide’s palate. And three sips was enough. Pinèt’i was stimulating and woke the digestion as well as the mind, but I knew the flavor and burn would stay in my cheeks all day. How so many drank so much was a wonder to me. Though the smell was nice.

I wiped my fingers on my last piece of bread, scooping it across the side of the vold bowl and into my mouth, and I sighed contentedly. The day felt almost normal, but as I thought that, a pit opened in my stomach and I felt nauseous. My chest hurt.

“You’re green,” Davide said. “Window or water closet?”

I shook my head and took several deep breaths. The nausea slowly faded. “I want to see Vincenzo and Lorella today.”

Davide ran a finger around the rim of his pinèt’i cup. “Viola and Antonello came this morning while you were sleeping.”

“What did they say?”

“They said you should see Vincenzo and Lorella when you finish eating.”

I stood from my stool. “I’m finished.”

“They brought clothing from your home as well. And they asked me to tell you not to return there for some time. Until the Commander is satisfied.”

“Satisfied with what?”

Davide shrugged one shoulder.

“All right. For now, I suppose.”

Davide brought me the clothes and I dressed. I realized I was looking for blood spatters on the cloth and felt a shudder roll through my body. When my sandals were laced, I joined him on the house steps. He said a quick prayer as he closed the door and we walked together to the doctors’ home.

February 01, 2021

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