what’s eating Timo?

by s.m.


image via The Sartorialist.


On Monday, Timo came into work at 10am and left by 6pm.  He worked straight through the whole day, eating a chocolate bar for lunch and not leaving his desk except to get another coffee from the machine.  Francesca tried engaging him in conversation and failed; if Timo wasn’t making arrangements on his headset or furiously typing emails, he was messaging on his phone (she could only assume to Dario).  She spent the day editing her photos from Capri and speaking with stylists.  Tuesday morning she had a doctor’s appointment, at which she learned her arm was healing well but she would still have to wear the air-cast for another four weeks.  It was putting a cramp in her style, for sure.  When she arrived back at the studio Timo was still hard at work, but she caught a moment when he had gotten off the phone and sprung.

“Paolo was here this weekend,” she blurted out.  Timo stopped typing and turned to look at her.

“Paolo Romaldo?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said.  “Obviously.”

“Ok,” he said.  “Why was Paolo here this weekend?”

“He came to see me.  He came over to my place for dinner on Saturday night.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Timo said.  “You don’t cook.  You live in a city full of good restaurants.  Why on earth would you have dinner at your place?”

“He didn’t want to go out,” Francesca answered.

“Please, elaborate.  Because right now this sounds like Harry Potter it’s so ridiculous.  What kind of food do you even keep at your house?  Because the last time I was there all you had was prosecco and potato chips.”

“Federica came to cook for me after I broke my arm,” she explained sheepishly, “so I had a proper dinner to serve.”

“I’m sure your mother loved that, lending out her housekeeper to feed you and your football fuckbuddy.”

“She didn’t know.  And no one knows Paolo was here so don’t tell anyone.”

Timo looked at her wearily.  “Francie, you know I love you.  I think you’re brilliant.  But you are out of your fucking mind if you think I’m sitting around talking about your and your boyfriend.”

“I just thought you might mention something to Davio–”

“Dario.  His name is Dario.  And he doesn’t care about you and Paolo Romaldo.  He’s studying string theory.”

“Ok, I just thought–”

“I’m happy for you, Francie, ok?  I really am.  But not everyone cares about how great your sex life is or how many times you did it in the shower or what kind of watch he wears.  Maybe you can call Cristina and she’ll want to hear about it.”

It stung her.  Timo always wanted to hear everything.  She was confused, after the weekend–Paolo came to see her, but he still didn’t trust her.  He opened up to her, but he was still distant.  He made the effort to be with her, but that wasn’t his primary reason for coming to Milan.  They sent text messages, but he wasn’t her boyfriend.  And the one thing she could always count on, Timo’s presence as a sounding-board, seemed to be gone.  What happened to him?

The door buzzed and Timo spoke into the intercom, then buzzed open the lock.  Several minutes later a delivery man knocked on the glass doors to the studio and walked in carrying a giant bouquet of flowers.  Francesca jumped up from her desk and ran over to take them from him, searching amidst the lilies for a card.  She opened it and read it, puzzled.

“Another surprise from Romaldo?” Timo asked.

“No,” Francesca replied, walking over to Timo’s desk.  She held out the card for him to read.  “They’re from Bruno.”

“Bruno,” Timo repeated.  “Interesting.”

“I don’t understand.”

Timo stood and held her by the shoulders.  “Francie,” he began slowly.  “I’m going to let you in on a secret.  Sometimes there is nothing to understand.  It just is.”  With that, he sat down at his desk and resumed working.

She spent a good part of her day staring at her phone trying to decide whether to text Romaldo.  She looked at the team’s schedule and saw his game this week was at home, in Turin.  He would be around.  She hadn’t heard from him.  There was, however, the issue of Bruno’s flowers.  She should thank him for them.  It was a nice thing to do–he was wishing her a quick recovery, and apologizing again for the accident.  But she didn’t want to start something that could be perceived as something else.  She didn’t want to lead him on.  Paolo would distract her from having to do something about Bruno, but without anything from Paolo, she didn’t trust herself not to get bored.

She waited until Wednesday morning and sent him a message then.

Good luck tonight! xxFrancesca

She didn’t expect to hear back from him soon.  She was getting accustomed to his reticence.  It was just the way he was.  But she didn’t know what to do about anything–about Timo and his strange new attitude, about Bruno and his disconcerting attentiveness, about Paolo.  Always about Paolo.  Her phone buzzed.

Thanks.  Will talk after.  X PR.

He was great when he was with her.  He was in the moment, entirely.  But when she wasn’t with him, she might as well be any other woman in the world.  He was cold, almost.  Not cold, that wasn’t entirely correct.  But definitely not her boyfriend.

It was barely noon.  The game wasn’t until much later.  She couldn’t expect to hear from him until late that night, if at all.  However. she had made dinner plans for that evening with her brother Ricci and his wife.  She wasn’t sure why she had agreed to go, except it had been a long time since she’d seen her brother and given what had happened with Bruno, her curiosity was piqued.  But it was all starting to seem like a bad idea; her wrist was throbbing a little and she wanted nothing more than to stay home and watch a movie.  And lie in the bed where Paolo had laid with her.