(photo via La Vecchia Signora)
in Rule of Thirds, Francesca goes to Istanbul a second time to watch boyfriend Paolo Romaldo’s Champions League soccer match against Turkish side Fenerbahce. today, Juventus (Paolo’s team) visit Istanbul to play Galatasaray for a spot in the group stage of Champions League play. FORZA JUVE!
Francesca Garancini sat on the hardwood floor of her apartment surrounded by colorful designer shoeboxes. Their names rang out like beautiful music—Giuseppe Zanotti, Manolo Blahnik, Roger Vivier, Jimmy Choo—but their love songs were no longer meant for her. She opened each box and wistfully removed the shoes from their dust covers, stroking the python skin or the smooth kid leather, trying them on her feet and looking at them from several angles, even in her full length mirror. And then she boxed them up again and sent them to one of two piles demarcated with sharpie-written notes: KEEP and SELL.
The “sell” pile was disturbingly small, both in comparison to the “keep” pile and the stack of boxes she had yet to assess. So far she’d managed to eliminate a pair of MiuMiu red and black checkerboard watersnake heels and a pair of Alexander McQueen black velvet smoking slippers with gold skulls embroidered over the toes. She was ready to get rid of those; the shoes she’d worn to Moscow with Selim. The shoes she’d worn to her abortion.
She paused after saving, for now, her favorite pair of neon yellow Jimmy Choos (would it ever be possible to find that color again? It was so bright it was practically a neutral!) and lit a cigarette from the half-empty pack of Marlboros on the floor next to her. As she inhaled she kept from pursing her lips too tightly; she could barely afford wrinkles now. No money for Botox, plus she had to keep her skin looking youthful if she was going to find another rich man. Twenty-nine was the upper limit, even for someone in her circles.
Her former circles. Since summer she’d been slowly jettisoned from the social life she once knew. Opening night at La Scala last night and she had to read about it in the newspaper: her Uncle Marco, a grand patron, squiring her sister-in-law Giulietta to box seats; her ex-boyfriend Paolo Romaldo with a leggy blonde (another leggy blonde) on his arm where just a short year ago Francesca had been. Giulietta’s gown was overwrought with ruffles; the blonde looked like a hooker in a Topshop mini-dress; Francesca closed the Corriere della Sera in disgust.
She finished her cigarette, stubbing it out in a white china saucer overflowing with the detritus of the only vice she could afford to maintain. Selim had said she was a beautiful smoker. He’d probably told his wife the same thing.
I just spent the month of November (National Novel-Writing Month) working on the third and final book in the Francesca Trilogy, Parallax.
Fifty thousand words later, here’s a taste of what’s to come…
“So we’re both artists, then.” He had finished his drink, and signalled to the bartender for another. “Will you have one?”
“What is it?”
“Please,” she replied. “And thank you.” She touched his arm, lingering. It was a tricky balance, this: she didn’t want too much conversation, she didn’t want to know his life story or his favorite television show or what he eats for breakfast. She wanted to go to his hotel room, fuck for a few hours, and go home. But getting from here to there took finesse.
She’d always liked pastis, its bewildering transition from clear to milky as she stirred in one, then two ice cubes, its heady licorice flavor tasting like disobedience and danger. The first sip was arresting, she almost coughed, but the next went down smoothly.
“Where are you staying?” She leaned in and whispered into his ear, her green fairy breath sweet and delirious.
“Finish your drink and I’ll show you.”
That was the thing about the French, she thought. They knew how to play. She felt the pastis numbing her tongue, the back of her throat. She gave him half a smile.
She swirled the ice cubes in her glass, listening to the pretty sound they made.
“What note is that?” she asked.
“The sound of the ice against the glass. What’s the note? That’s your thing, isn’t it?”
“Do it again.”
She rattled her ice again.
“Now drink some of it,” he directed. She complied.
“Does that change the tone?” she asked.
“No. But it gets you closer to finishing.” He had his hand on her knee, teasing under the hem of her skirt.
“Guillaume,” she said.
“Rien. I just like the way it feels on my tongue. Guillaume.”