Burning The Map by Laura Caldwell

By Laura Caldwell

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I’d fallen in love with the sculpted fountains and the steeples shooting from the churches. Francesco revs his sad little bike, which answers with a chug and a whine before it starts moving again. ” It sounds mysterious, but I refuse to take the bait. “Fine,” I yell into the wind so he can hear. ” I tell myself I’m not interested, that I’m only accepting because if I want to see my friends while in Rome, they’re obviously going to be a package deal with Poster Boy and his crew. Francesco pulls into the courtyard, and I climb off the scooter as elegantly as possible.

But isn’t that what friends are for? As we walk through the courtyard, I notice that it’s changed little since I last saw it. A few wrought-iron tables with linen umbrellas still surround the fountain, and the carved oak door to the pensione still stands open. For a second, I flash back to my parents sitting at one of those tables, sharing a bottle of wine, laughing as they play their hundred thousandth game of gin rummy, but I can’t reconcile the image with the present. ” Kat calls from the doorway.

Lately, I’ve wondered if he enjoys his work more than he enjoys me. As I sip my beer, I start to review the moments we’ve spent together during the past few months, then going back further, to come up with the last time we’d had fun together, real fun, not just the getting-dressed-up-to-go-to-a-cousin’s-wedding-and-drinking-bad-table-wine kind of fun. I want to remember the belly laughs, the accidental fun, the spontaneous good times at the end of an otherwise crappy day. We’d had those times at the beginning—the pub crawl we arranged with John’s neighbors during a blizzard; the time John surprised me with a weekend trip to Manhattan because I was depressed about a bad grade; the New Year’s Day that we drank every bit of leftover alcohol in his place and watched football and movies for fourteen hours.

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