02. When Angels Die

Turin, cemetery of Sassi. Sadness, silence, memories and me.
To recite a blasphemous prayer, vain in its own solemnity.
An impudent cloud obscured the sun. A thin breath of wind chased the dead leaves. A black cat carried the divine blessing from grave to grave.
What conception do I have of God? Tall, robust, silver wavy hair and a thick white beard; he looks a bit like Charlton Heston.
I shuddered at the thought of the years enclosed in that single place; millennia of dreams and hopes, nightmares and disappointments.
But that was not the reason for my visit.

Agata Irene Ubaldi: 14 February 1957 – 13 September 1990.
It is not easy to fill the void you have left, sweet Agata. Not easier than extinguishing the sun with tears.
A blurred outline, a name, a couple of dates; here is all that remained of her: a ruthless metaphor for the transience of life. Plus a shattered husband, and two children who had to understand too much too soon.
It is not possible to do without your love, sweet Agata. Now, as then.
And then nothing but an odorless kitchen and a pool of blood on the living room carpet.
To be or not to be. It is not a problem.

Tiziana Antinori: 23 October 1964 – 13 September 1991.
It was nice to talk to you, to listen and be listened to. The complicity that had been established between us was extraordinary, don’t you think, Tiziana? It is so difficult to talk today.
Her smile was enough to dissolve the silence, her gaze was enough to drive away every sadness. She was enough.
Words to laugh, words to cry; words to feel alive.
And now, nothing but the sound of the heart and a sea of blood on a park bench.
No man is an island. No woman.

Monica Iovine: 17 July 1961 – 13 September 1992.
I still feel the taste of your kisses. I can still feel the warmth of your caresses and of your altruism. Where are you now, Monica?
It was wonderful to make love with her; it was like giving the most of yourself and receiving the same gift in return. It was life shouting its name.
Life shouting its pain, demanding answers to damned questions.
Then, just an empty bed and an ocean of blood on a car seat.
‘Odi et amo’. Hate and love. What is the difference?

Turin, cemetery of Sassi. Exit.
Once again, she was there, motionless, at the bus stop. I saw her often, at the same time in the same place; in the same position. Even when she was not there yet or no longer existed.
A sweet, complicit and selfless angel.
She would be the next one.


[First written as “Quando muoiono gli angeli” in 1994. Re-edited in 2018 with the help of Sonia Lombardo. Translated from the Italian by Sabrina Beretta and edited by Karen Rought in 2019.]
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