Such is life

Stefano Zangrando
17.01.2014
 
Such is life
Sergio leans back in his lounger and groans contentedly: “Now, this is life.” Pearls of sweat glisten on his forehead, just at the frontier between his salt-and-pepper hair and his designer sunglasses
Rita, at his side, takes a sip of sangria, puts the glass on the grass and says: “No, love, this is vacation. That's the beauty.”
Sergio remains motionless, as if he hadn’t heard her, his torso naked under the open robe, but replies before long: “Whatever it is, it's what I needed."
"Yeah. You know what I like about this place?" she says, while pulling sun-protection lip balm out of the plastic bag next to the tanning bed, "That you feel at home. "
"What do my ears here?” says Amedeo as he approaches, still dripping and panting a little. Behind him, Carla continues to swim in the pool.
“What do your ears ever hear, philosopher?” Asks Sergio.
Amedeo grabs the towel on his lounger and starts to dry himself off. “Feeling at home," he says, “is the key to happiness."
Amedeo emits a sort of grunt, then turns to Rita: "Get that? Are you happy? "
While finishing the lubrication of her lips, Rita stifles a laugh, then says, "Come on, talking about happiness isn’t appropriate ... But I feel good here, yes.” She puts the lip balm back into the bag and lies down again.
"I feel good too,” says Sergio. “That's why I just said that this is the life, but ...”
“Boom!” says Amedeo, who sat down on the lounger after putting back on the towel. While stretching out his arm towards the carafe on the table, he adds: “If talking about happiness is inappropriate, then saying that this is life qualifies as heresy."
“Why for God’s sake?” Sergio objects, and waves a hand: “Look at us here, we have everything: a drink, a swimming pool, the sun, the mountains, the fresh air... “
“... and vacation,” finishes Amedeo. He stretches a hand toward the chip bowl and continues: “Don’t you think that life and vacation are in contradiction? Or, if this really is life, are you willing to admit that what you do during the rest of the year is a non-life? In short, that you’re usually the walking dead? "
Sergio waves a hand as if to dismiss Amedeo’s words. “Ah, you’re taking me too seriously..."

“No, Amedeo's right,” says Rita. “We should be careful what we say. If we say that this is life, judging it to be a better condition, then our everyday lives, our careers, our homes and everything we’ve built over the years, are all those things worth less than a simple vacation? "
“Absolutely!” says Amedeo. I love you when you talk like that, he’d wanted to say. It's been years since he desired her, since he wanted to love her, to possess her. He even made up his mind that she was his “ideal” woman. But then Sergio had come along, the boor. But Amedeo would not, could not, do without her presence, so he continued to hang out with her, spend time with them, even later, when he fell in love – for real, no fallback – with Carla. But unresolved love never completely ceases to burn beneath the layers of a new love, under the weight of passing time. “To life,” sighs Amedeo, raising his glass.
“Ah, you don’t understand,” Sergio replies. “It’s obvious that what we do every day is our life. But unplugging is good for you. No? Don’t you guys feel better up here, too?"
Rita props herself onto her elbows and looks at him. “You said it, sweetie, unplug. This is a break, a breather: that’s why it makes us feel so good. But if it turned into our daily lives, boy, would we end up bored! At least for me: this is not what I’m looking for in life. Not a permanent vacation! "
Amedeo nods, convinced and thoughtful. “Man is not made to be vacant, but to be. That is, to live life in all its aspects, including the most unsightly...”
Carla, who approaching heard only the last words, runs her hands over her wet face and says, “Oh God, here we go again! Are you talking about ugly things again? Please, not here, not now...”
Rita laughs. “No! We were commenting on a statement that Sergio made.” She turns to her husband, and touches his forearm. “Poor thing, he just wanted to express that he’s happy here and we tormented him, right?"
Sergio spreads his arms. “With these two you can’t say anything without them putting you in front of a firing squad. You know what I said? This is life: that’s it. "
Amedeo looks up at Carla: “We only told him that this is not life, it’s a vacation, meanwhile life is what ...”
“Oh, please, just let it go,” interrupts Carla, who has put on her robe and is now collecting her blond hair behind her head. “That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Right there,” she says, lifting one leg and stretching it out to touch the corner of the table with her bare foot.
Amedeo bends backwards a little to look. Rita sits up on the lounger, to see as well.

A few inches from Carla’s polished and indicating big toe, at the edge of the table, an ant holds a little piece of potato chip larger than it is, wandering here and there without knowing where to take it, unsure in the face of the abyss.
Carla puts her foot on the ground and recovers her balance. She says, “That’s it, right there: life.”
Amedeo and Rita are silent for a long moment, and suddenly the sky seems to darken. Then Sergio’s says in a lazy voice, "I can’t see anything from here."
Rita is caught by a wave of embarrassment for her slothful husband and tries to find an expeditious solution: “Would you like some sangria?” she asks Carla, leaning toward the table.
At that moment something falls into the pool with a thud. All four suddenly turn.
Under the spray, the water is dirty, greenish black.
“What the hell...” says Amedeo as he springs to his feet, but another bomb falls from the sky and explodes in front of them, on the grass.
Carla and Rita cry out in unison. Amedeo’s legs are smeared with brown muck, the same muck that covers the corner of the table where, up until a moment before, the ant had faltered.
"Holy...” says Sergio as he rises slowly.
Rita looks up to the sky, and her breath is caught in her throat. So Amedeo and Carla, too, look up, and what they see dispels any thoughts of life and happiness.
“Oh...” says Amedeo.
"They’re cows!” says Rita.
Carla looks as though she’s choking back an incredulous laugh: “Flying cows?"
"... And there are a lot!” Amedeo manages, with a choked voice.
Another bomb, again into the pool. And yet another, not far away. Sergio looks around, disgusted as he inhales the stench that begins to permeate the air. “That's disgusting!” He exclaims. "This is....”
At that very instant, the waitress rushes between them, a small and robust fifty-year-old Ukrainian; she hurredly collects the jug of sangria and the bowl with the chips and, before racing back to the hotel, cries out, “Escape! Run away! This is Apocalypse!”
The four friends stare at her, paralyzed.

 
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