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Something wasn't right. The twinge in her stomach told her so. Her eyes confirmed it was so. He was supposed to be there. But there was no sign of his form, his face.
Had he changed his mind? Couldn't go through with it any more? No.
Nervous energy traveled through her, causing her to tremble. The jostling waving crowd in the terminal took on a menacing profile as she stood alone with her suitcase, awkward and vulnerable.
Her name was being shouted and an arm was energetically pumping to attract her attention.
Anna, over here!
The man attached to the gesticulating limb resembled her Giovanni.
Sorry for making you wait. How are you? How was the flight? You look lovely? was like rapid gunfire as Pietro ran up to her.
Anna turned to him and accepted the quick peck on each cheek. She even let him pick up her suitcase and take her elbow to lead her towards the exit. But, when they were half way there, she abruptly stopped and in a voice overflowing with tempest tossed emotions demanded to know what was going on.
I won't take another step unless you tell me. I have a right to know! Why isn't he here?!
Minus the hostility, Pietro was beginning to look just as miserable as Anna while trying to reassure her.
Everything is fine. Really it is. It's just that he couldn't face you. Don't look at me that way. Please try and understand. So much has happened since he arrived, so many changes all at once, and it was just too much for him. You know how he is. Feelings consume him. He is incapable of repelling and so absorbs everything.
Why didn't he tell me this before I came? Anna demanded. All those letters full of enthusiasm, promise and tenderness without ever a mention of any problems. Just pages and pages describing big cars, big open spaces and big opportunities for our big shiny new life together.
Why didn't he tell me? this time supplicating. And if he couldn't do it, why didn't you?
Listen, said Pietro, as he put down the suitcase taking both her hands in his. I think of you as a sister, so if you don't want to go through with this, I'll purchase a return ticket for you right now. Giovanni agrees with me. He couldn't stand you pitying him. That's why he didn't want to be the first thing you saw. He is so thin and worn down.
How could he do this to me! Anna erupted. If I had known about the situation, perhaps he could have returned home and we could have had a smaller but nonetheless good life together there. I turned my back on everything familiar too, but it was okay, because we were in love and it was all going to be a beautiful adventure. And now, after being cheated and lied to, I am forced to be the one to decide.
You know him Anna. Nothing has changed for him. He is still crazy about you. And if you can accept his frailty, you can still have your adventure. It may not be as effortless, but together you could make it. Remember him. He is still in there. Isn't it worth trying?
Every time he had a weekend leave pass, I waited for him like he was Christmas. The past four years have been a whirlwind but, when I really think about it, there was always and primarily laughter. He would be a total stranger to me without laughter. Our life unrecognizable.
You make him laugh and smile. You are everything he loves about home and your old lives together. With you here, he will start to get those pieces of himself back again. But, Anna, if you stay it has to be because you want to not because you have to.
If I go back, I return to I told you so and shame. I'll be the topic of every cafe and bar stool in the vicinity. If I stay, I risk discovering that the man I fell in love with is someone else, who I may not feel the same way about.
Her bitterness was affecting her judgement, making her ugly and superficial, mean and scathing. And she knew it, but she felt so very very betrayed.
When my brother proposed to you and you said yes, you both knew that it was supposed to be forever, in the good and the bad, in sickness and in health...Pietro's voice trailed off. If you are already throwing in the towel, that's very telling...
If I were a man, I would punch you in the face for that! shouted Anna pulling away from him and turning her back as the tears started to pour down her face. They stood there like that for what must have seemed an eternity. Passers by probably thought they were having a lover's quarrel.
When Pietro, from his vantage point, noticed Anna's form finally become still and she, drained, for the moment, of all her tears took a deep breath and turned to him for his handkerchief, he was already holding it out to her. She gave him a weak smile, wiped her tears, and slid her right arm through his. He took hold of her with a rush of relief and love.
Linked together this way, they walked determinedly towards the heavy glass doors and exited the terminal for good.
Anna's adventure had begun.