Sometimes, whether you're single or with a significant one,
somebody appears in your life unexpectedly. We feel the need to know who this person is, the need to know exactly who this person is.
A story may offer different interpretations, even with several irreconcilable and contradictory meanings. As in Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta's story in Dante's Divine Comedy, this story is not about unfaithfulness either. This story is about infatuation: what burns inside of oneself when we let ourselves fall madly for someone.
Excerpt: First Chapter.
HELEN opened the window to air the living room, for that Sunday they expected a crowd to come in and out. She eyed her watch, and rushed out to the convenience store while her roommate Marleen tried to jam her toilet kit into the suitcase.
At the store, Helen glanced at the magazine covers, paid for her black coffee, abruptly stopped the chitchat the salesclerk had struck up, and went straight back home. She didn’t want to miss even one candidate. It was not the first time they agreed to sublet one of the two rooms, and they had never had any complaints, except once. It so happened that a mousy young girl had sublet Marleen’s bedroom for two months. One day during her last week she was caught poking her nose into Helen’s closet, and had the insolence to deny it just minutes later. Although they kept living together until the sublet was up, they shunned each other all the time. Since then, they both had to give their approval of the sublease. It was an unbreakable rule.
By twelve thirty, the brief advertisement on Craigslist had drawn a bunch of potential roommates, though the open house was set up until 4 P.M. At six minutes of four, the doorbell rang.
“Is the sublet still available? This is Tiziano Conti,” he said, offering his right hand between the door’s opening.
“I’m sorry, the open house is over,” Helen said, closing the door.
“No, no, no. It’s not over. Come on in, please,” Marleen said, pushing her aside while opening the door to let him in.
Tiziano gave them a forced smile while coming in.
“She is Helen Hayes, and I’m Marleen Walker,” Marleen said.
Tiziano went to shake hands first with Marleen and then with Helen. He walked across the living room, looked around, and stopped by the open window. He bolted down a bite of sandwich he held in his left hand and picked a crumb from his lip. Tapping his fingers on the flat screen TV, he asked, “Is this working?”
Helen saw how some crumbs fell on the carpet, gave a resounding yes, and warned him, “Why don’t you put your sandwich in your shoulder bag?”
“Easy! They are only crumbs.” He put on a fake smile again and hid his sandwich in the little section of his bag. “So what’s bringing you here, to New York?” Marleen asked him, ushering him to her room.
Helen heard from behind, “The Marathon and some business.”
“I won’t be here for the Marathon, so that week you might have the whole apartment to yourself,” Helen
said, touching the radiator with her right hand.
Turning around, Tiziano asked, “The whole month?”
“No. I said just one week.” Helen stared at him.
Tiziano and Marleen walked into Marleen’s room. Helen went down on her knees, picked up the crumbs off the carpet with her fingertips and placed them on her palm.
“So you are not bringing any furniture with you, are you? Marleen asked.
“No, just a suitcase.”
“Good. Let me alert you that animals are banned in this building.”
“Am I breaking the law right now?”
Marleen laughed out loud.
When Helen heard the sound of steps emerging from the room, she sprang to her feet.
“So what do you think?” Marleen asked him.
“It’s fine. Bright and spacious. It works for me,” he said nodding.
“I’ll move my clothes to one side of the walk-in closet to make room for yours. Any questions you want to ask?”
“The ad says the apartment has wireless Internet, right?
“Yes, yes. There’s wireless. I’ll give you the code. And we’ve got a washer and dryer as well as many kitchen tools. Do you cook? We rarely cook, but we have it all,” Marleen responded quickly, ushering him to the kitchen.
“Perhaps you’d like to share the apartment with a gay like you… I mean, a guy like you,” Helen suggested, biting her lower lip afterward.
Tiziano suddenly stopped and turned on her. He gave her a wry look and said, “I’m sorry, but I’m quite confused. Do you want to sublet the room, or what?”
Helen declined to give an answer, and went to sit down on the couch, crossing her arms and legs.
“Yes, yes. Of course.” Marleen glared at Helen.
Tiziano and Marleen headed for the kitchen. Marleen stood at the kitchen doorway while he walked in to have a quick look.
“All right, I’ll be waiting for an answer till eight,” he said.
Tiziano went back to the living room to shake hands with Helen. She smiled with a touch of arrogance, but right away looked down in embarrassment when Tiziano’s hand crushed the crumbs she held in her hand. He frowned and then grinned slyly. He moved to the front door, thanked Marleen, who was already at the threshold, and left.
“Fabulous! He’s exactly who we are looking for,” Marleen said, clapping her hands once.
“What?! It seems to me he’s an illiterate guy who watches TV 24/7. I weed him out!” Helen said, walking into her room.
Growing frantic, Marleen followed her and said, “This is just minor stuff. I think he’s a good guy. He actually looks considerate and trustworthy. That’s what we need for a month.”
“Yes, considerate, and besides, shaking hands with us proves that he’s quite polite.”
“Come on! I haven’t seen any consideration on his part. Marleen, that jerk scoffed at me. And he might be a smoker.”
“He said he doesn’t smoke.”
“What about that girl… ”
“What’s her name?” She looked through the window.
“There were two women. One who asked us for a lower rent, and the other… well, all I can remember is those daisies… ”
“Oh yes, the girl with the wreath of daisies in her hair.”
“Come on! Are you serious?”
“She’s a dirty hippie.”
“She can go on placing flowers in her greasy hair; it stinks anyway.” Marleen shivered and went on, “I’d rather have this good-looking guy sleeping in my bed than that dirty flower-power girl. Don’t you find him attractive, huh?” Marleen nudged her.
“Mhmm… My boyfriend won’t like it.”
“Your boyfriend won’t find it out.”
“I’m not sure, Marleen.”
“It’s just for a month. What’s the big deal?”
“I don’t know. I don’t feel like… ”
“Please, I don’t have any time left,” Marleen begged her.
Helen clenched her jaw, and afterward took a deep breath.
“Okay. Call him up!”
Author bio:Merce Cardus is the author of two novels, I say Who, What, and Where! and Deconstructing Infatuation. Her novels are inspirational, thought-provoking, and witty, whose themes reflect and explore the great questions of Life, constantly searching for Truth.
Earning a Master's degree in Corporate Law, she has headed her own law firm. In 2008, after a wake-up call, she began an inner journey to realize her passion, and committed to following her heart. She's currently living her passion by working on her third novel.