Genoveva bumped into him in the lunch line; he laughed a curious laughter as she introduced herself. “Mi scusi … Salve, mi chiamo Genoveva.” She held out her hand as a peace-offering. “Ciao. Mi chiamo Andrea. Cosa stai facendo in albergo?” He pumped her hand with such force that she thought her heart might stop. “Sono una cameriera nel ristorante a buffet e tu?” They moved slowly down the lunch line together. Today’s special: Baked fish, roast potatoes, traditional Sardinian gnocchi, sautéed eggplants drizzled in the finest olive oil and seadas. “Sono responsabile della sicurezza, qui da sei anni. Di dove sei? Non sembri molto italiana.”
It was true; Genoveva is not Italian. Even with her slight name change she can’t fool anyone “Sono di Canada. Il mio marito è sardo. Sono qui da quasi cinque anni. Sei Sardo?” She didn’t think he was from Sardinia; his bombshell blonde locks gave him away but his accent was so Sardinian. “So you are American! Right on, we can speak English then. I miss speaking English. My father was born in the south of Sardinia and my mother is from Poland. Sardinia has been my home for the last twenty years. Why are you here, in Sardinia?” She silently punched him square between the eyes and said “I’m from Canada, not America.”
His next response surprised her that she almost choked on a piece of gnocchi. “You’re from North America. It’s the same thing as America. Therefore you are American.”
He was right in an odd strange way, but what he failed to realize was that within that one continent are twenty-three very different countries. “No, I’m from Canada. I hold a Canadian passport. I say EH and I had a polar bear as a pet when I was a kid.” Her natural sarcasm had taken hold of her. She could see him pondering the idea of twenty-three countries within one continent, smoke coming out of his ears. “So, you lived in an igloo too? I’ve always wanted to live in an igloo.” Genoveva has never in her Canadian life seen an igloo; with the exception of the travel documentaries she used to watch. She did try to build one when she was eight years old but her polar bear sat on it. “Yes, I lived in an igloo. It’s like, so really cool.” She picked up her lunch tray and bid Andrea adieu and she hoped to never see him again.
Three days later
“Hey, America! How’s it going?” Agitation gripped her as she invisibly kicked him between the legs. “Ciao Andrea. I’m from Canada; remember the igloos and polar bears? We spoke about this just three days ago.” This was one time Genoveva wished she had a super cell phone because if she did, she would open an app and show Andrea the international border line dividing Canada and America. “Oh come on, Miss. America, it’s the same thing.” In her mind’s eye she dropkicked him so hard his Polish head split open on the reception floor; instead she said “I’m late for work. Ciao.” She ran into the restaurant and hoped again to never, ever see his ignorant face.
Genoveva wanted to buy a small token of appreciation for her hairdresser and walked into the local flower shop. “Ciao Anna, come stai?”
“Sto bene, grazie. Cosa vuoi oggi. I’m good, thank you. What do you want today?”
“I would like a small bouquet, as a gift for a friend.”
Genoveva picked out a beautiful long stem bamboo shoot, a sunflower and some beautiful white flowers. Anna wrapped them nicely in colourful paper when Genoveva heard a familiar voice; her skin crawled.
“Hey – Genoveva! How’s it going? The hotel season is finally over; I haven’t seen you around the hotel in the last few months, what happened? I can’t wait to get back to the south of the island. When are you going back to America?” His blonde moments outshone everything about him. “I’m from Canada and I live here in Sardinia. Five years now.” Anna the wonderful local floral lady piped in “Si. Genoveva is from Canada but she’s one of us now.”
Defeated, his smile turned down and his face turned sour; he looked at this worn Adidas and said … nothing. He had memory flashbacks of their conversation in the lunch line: twenty-three countries, one continent – America. The local Sardinian woman defeated Andrea with a simple, honest statement about Genoveva fitting in. Finally.
To read the first part of this short story click here.