I have always felt ridiculous. Always that fraction too tall so I loomed over boys. Always doughier of stomach and thigh, as if Mama hadn’t only fed me pasta for every meal but suffused it, glutinous and swollen, to my skin. My too big hair – its own unruly entity writhing from my scalp; my buck teeth locked in battle with impossible to conceal braces; my too many to count freckles, spilt clumsily across my cheeks.
Too everything. Too visible, for sure.
Genes are one thing, but a name? She could have called me anything – Sophie or Anna or Jane. Any name would have been better. You can’t blend in when you’re called Zephyr Zefferelli. You can only be ridiculous.
I almost didn’t ask before it was too late.
Her baby bird breaths wounding my heart; the mustard tinge of her skin nauseating. It was a diminishing I couldn’t, wouldn’t, accept. I was compelled to stop it, whilst wishing it never to stop. I knew this time was precious – I should conserve it, eek it out, explore every corner of every nanosecond. I mustn’t waste those laboured gulps of oxygen.
“Why did you call me Zephyr?” I blurted, immediately regretting it. There were so many other things I could have asked.
It was burn your feet hot, like the whole of that June. Kneading the pasta sent beads of mercury-like sweat down the funnel of your spine, the tomatoes shrivelled and water grew scarce. It was oppressive, as though the temperature had stolen the air. Desperate for the feel of a breeze to soothe my skin, I went at night to the olive groves, up the only hill, seeking relief.
This night, I wasn’t alone. He was dark; exotic.
“What are you doing up here?” he asked.
“Hoping for a little wind,” I said.
“Me too,” he replied, “but, in my country, we call it a zephyr.”
The way his tongue curled around the word, rolling the ‘r’, elongating it, playing with it; his teeth grazing his plentiful lips; the gentle caress of the breeze we both desired; the moonlight; his eyes, penetrating mine.
I’m glad I asked.
Why should I blend in? I’m Zephyr Zefferelli, exotic goddess, carved of Italian soil, smouldering desire and a gentle breeze.
About the author: Nicola is a new writer of flash fiction, with pieces at Reflex Fiction and Clover & White. She is seeking representation for her first novel. She tweets @NicolaAWrites and blogs about trying to find her way in the writing world at www.nicolalostinnarration.weebly.com/blog