“I’m not sure this is working,” she began, but she wasn’t confident and her words trailed off.
“What do you mean, not sure?”
“I don’t think it’s fun any more.” Inane, she thought to herself. What an inane thing to say.
“Who told you it was going to be fun? I’m sorry, Francesca, if you’re used to someone who kicks a ball and plays games all the time but life isn’t always fun. I don’t know what perpetual fun you expect but grow up.”
She kept quiet for several seconds. Selim seemed content to let the conversation drop.
“I’ll talk to you soon, I suppose,” she said weakly.
“No,” he said. “We’re adults. We’ll talk regularly, because we have a relationship. And I’ll see you in a few weeks. I’m working on a trip to Monte Carlo with some clients, and I expect that you’ll come.”
So this was how it was going to be. At least she had some direction, she thought. With Timo gone, it was a relief having someone tell her what to do again. And it could be worse than Monte Carlo.
She wasn’t happy about what he’d said to her, and she had no idea at all why she’d said what she’d said. Not sure it’s working. Selim was right, she thought. He was right to dress her down about relationships being hard work. After all the time she invested into Selim, all of the miles she’d traveled with him, everything they’d been through together. The entirety of their relationship, documented in magazines and trashy rag papers all across Europe, was she just to throw that all away? Because she wasn’t having fun?
Selim had made reference to Paolo, off-handedly, in an attempt to remind her of her failed relationship with him. But his comment had had the opposite effect. It had been fun being with Paolo, fun all the time, fun in St Kitts and fun in Torino and fun in bed. At the time, she thought he was simple, she would have agreed with Selim that he was a boy who played games rather than a man with a job. Maybe he had been better than a man with a job and a wife.
She picked up her phone again. If she called Paolo right now, after what, almost eight months, maybe he would speak to her again. Maybe he wouldn’t ignore her call. Maybe he was training and she could meet him in Coverciano and disappear with him into the hills of Fiesole, right outside Florence.
And Selim would call her a coward. He’d say she was just running away again, the same thing she did whenever anything seemed to get just the slightest bit difficult. How quickly he seemed to forget that she had already done the must difficult part. Moscow. The abortion. The thing she could never tell Paolo, even if he did answer her call.
Her glass was empty. Not half-empty, completely empty. When she got up from the couch to refill it she played a game with herself: if it was an even number of footsteps to the kitchen she would call Paolo. If it was an odd number, she wouldn’t.
One, two, three, four. It would be a shame to go backwards, she thought, to go back to Paolo. Eight, nine, ten. But he had really loved her. Entirely. She had met his father and his sister. Eleven. And she was over the threshold, in her kitchen. She wouldn’t call him, she decided firmly. It had been a silly thought. They had nothing else to say to each other.
[to remind you of Paolo: showering alone.]