Under the Same Sun

Gabriele Chiapparini & Camilla Marrese 
Under the Same Sun
Nina looks out of the window. Giulo sits on the bed, behind her. He looks at her back.
“It’s beautiful,” says Nina. The last flakes of a violent snowstorm come to rest delicately on the result of three days of blizzard. “If only places like this were easier to get to…”
“If they were you’d find it harder to see what you’re seeing now” answered Giulio.
“You’re right.”
There’s a disarming beauty to Nina’s back, which both is tense and supple at the same time. They stay like that for a while. Giulio waits, not wanting to rush things in any way. This is not the place for rushing anything.
Nina turns and comes towards Giulio and pulls him to her – his face against her stomach, caressing his head, running her hands through his hair. He puts his arms around her waist with a tenderness he hasn’t felt in quite some time.
Pressed against her tummy like that, he thinks back to what things were like just three months ago, when the current situation would have seemed beyond the possibilities of even his wildest imaginings. She 23 years old, he 43. 20 years younger. Two worlds which were poles apart, seemingly irreconcilable. But conversation had flowed so easily between them, that neither had even considered the possibility that they might have misconstrued the situation. Back then, they had glided effortlessly from one topic to another. She was beautiful, no doubt about it, and he was, he knew, charming in his own way, but the idea that things might pan out as they had done had never crossed his mind. Giulio gets up and looks into her eyes. Nina’s expression betrays just a hint of sadness. It’s her age, she has not yet mastered the art of hiding what she’s thinking. “What is it?”
“I don’t want to go back,” Nina says.
Giulio looks at her, smiling. He detaches himself from her and this brings him back to himself. They kiss. “How about I fix us something to eat. Are you hungry?”
“Yes, and whilst you’re doing that I’ll hop in the shower,” Nina answers.
Giulio heads for the kitchen and puts a pot of water on to boil. The tortellini they brought with them from Bologna is still in the freezer, and he retrieves it. The local food here is delicious, but he doesn’t know how to make it. He can only get it whenever he ventures into a restaurants, but in these conditions it’s a good forty minutes by car along unpaved and snow-clad lanes before you even reach the main road, and then from there you still have to get to the next village to find one.
Whilst he waits for the water to boil he goes to the window and looks out. The snow is getting lighter. After that first time they met again, maybe by chance maybe not who could say, in the same place. They picked up where they had left off the first evening: what are you up to, what am I up to, what do you do, what do you like, what are your plans for the future? And once again they found the evening just slipped by without their noticing. He discovered that Nina was a student. Architecture in Venice. Lovely! he had said. They had so many shared interests that, in each of their successive meetings, they scarcely knew where to begin. He told her a bit about himself: he was a businessman with two small shops in town and they seemed to be going ok for the time being.
He’d had past relationships, some serious others less so, but for now he was alone and almost proud of how stable this made him, when stability is often so hard to find in this life. He would quite happily have continued in this state for a while. Nina had just come out of a very serious relationship. “Does anyone have serious relationships at your age,” he had asked. But he needed only remember the first time he had fallen in love, when he was younger than her, and how much pain it had caused him. And he was ashamed that he could have been so dismissive of something she had gone through only a few months previous.
Giulio can hear the roar of the shower behind the bathroom door. He goes to the stove and turns down the heat to wait for Nina.
When they sit down to eat, with only the table corner separating them, Nina’s hair is still a bit wet. Giulio strokes it with the tip of his finger. The damp heat from the soup and the room contrasted with the dry cold of the mountain. One of the most beautiful feelings there is, like listening to thunder (or a snowstorm) whilst tucked up, snug and toasty, under the blankets. Not talking much, just enjoying the privilege.
They finish eating. Giulio lies down on the unmade bed and falls asleep. Nina packs the last of her things into her suitcase, calmly, and before waking him she sits down next to him for a moment. She watches him while he sleeps. Then she looks around the room. The light filtering in through the window seems to her like a light different to any she has seen before. It isolates the space, alters it, making it seem fuller, unreal somehow. Suddenly the room is a bubble, a bracket, a pause. A bed in a vacuum. Nina stops to consider the fact that the year in which she was born could easily have been the one in which Giulio met his first girlfriend, perhaps he was learning to drive then or perhaps he had already learned, as she was starting primary school he would have been looking for his first job, and so on. You could go crazy thinking like that. And anyway, thinks Nina whilst she pulls the duvet over Giulio's legs, none of it matters now. It's just a case of detachment: from society, from the superstructures, from received wisdom and one’s own thoughts, from glances, from the possible remarks of others and, and at times, from the idea that you determine your own self.
In that room, in that place so far removed from everything and everyone, where the white both erects and dismantles boundaries, Nina asks herself what remains of a person. The body, at least for now. The skin. What a person sees, hears and touches and that all this, when detached from the context of the "real" world which is ruthless and mundane, becomes absolute, impervious to the structures of time. The head, the voice, words, gestures. She wants to take it all with her. Nina gets from the bed and goes once more to the window. It has stopped snowing. It's time to go back.

Translation: Rosanna Forte
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