by s.m.

[before this: showering alone.]

They stayed in bed for a long time on New Year’s Day, not wanting to leave the warm cocoon they had created for themselves.  Francesca had slept in Paolo’s old jersey and wore it still, curled up amidst the pillows.

She stroked his forearm with her fingers, scratching it gently with her nails.  “I like that you’re not embarrassed to have me here,” she said finally, breaking the morning quiet.

“What do you mean?  Why should I be embarrassed?”  He jerked up defensively pulling his arm away.

“That’s not what I meant,” she stammered.

“Oh, really.  So say what you meant, then.”

“That you’re not ashamed of where you came from.”  She became acutely aware that she wasn’t making matters any better.

“But why would I be ashamed?  I don’t understand.  Because my father doesn’t wear Berluti shoes or a Rolex watch?  Because he works every day?  Because my sister doesn’t carry a Gucci handbag?  What the fuck are you trying to say?”  He had moved away from her, almost as far as he could be without falling off the edge of the bed; he had narrowed his eyes and looked at her incredulously.

“That didn’t come out right at all.”

“You’re damn right it didn’t,” he continued, angrily.  “If I were you, I’d be a little more careful deciding who should or shouldn’t be embarrassed about their family.  As far as I know, only one of us has a relative to be ashamed of, and it sure as hell isn’t me.”

It was her turn to sit up and be indignant.  “How dare you drag Ricci into this,” she hissed.

“You started it,” he sneered.  “You’re the one passing judgment on everyone.  I’m just suggesting that you not throw stones, when it’s your brother all over the Corriere.”

“I was trying to say something nice,” she argued.

“Well, it was a damn backhanded way of saying it,” he replied.  There it was again: money, class, society, in the bed with them, building a wall between them.

“I’m sorry,” she said quietly.  “What I should have said is that I like your family, I’ve enjoyed spending time with them, and I’m glad that you’re comfortable enough with me to have you in your home.”

“Then that’s what you should have said,” he answered, getting up out of bed.  He pulled his shorts on and opened the bedroom door.

“You aren’t going to apologize?” she asked from the bed.

“Apologize for what?” he said, turning back.  “Not having Frette sheets?  Making you ride in a Fiat?  No,”  he shook his head, “I have nothing to apologize for.”