“It is Bodhi Day today! Happy Rohatsu!” Paolo grinned.
“You remembered!” Helena smiled back at the screen. “And you’re off today too, right? L'Immacolata Concezione?”
“Yeah, everything’s closed today,” he said. “My grandmother wants me to take her to Mass.” He rolled his eyes. “I think she’s the last one in all Italy who still goes!”
Helena laughed. “Traditions can be good, they can be healthy and give focus.”
“The only traditions I follow are my friends watching the World Cup Quarter Finals tomorrow. If Netherlands wins, I’ll probably call you crying, and if Argentina wins, we’ll all call you screaming how much we love you and miss you!”
Helena said, “All of you will probably be too drunk by that time to work your phones!”
Paolo agreed, “E posible, sí… So, how are things in Nebraska?”
“Cold,” she said, “But I’m brewing some tea, home-grown chamomile and some anise that Claire sent. And … of course, some panettone”
“UGH! Not that shit they sell in America!”
“Well, if I were in Milano with you guys, then I could buy fresh from the corner bakery, now couldn’t I?”
“You can always come back any time, mi amore!”
“I will … someday,” Helena said, even though she knew that “someday” often remains forever elusive, somewhere in a distant, merely possible, future.
“Cazzo,” Paolo said, “Sorry, that’s my grandmother calling. I need to go. Call you later, OK?”
“OK,” Helena said. “Ciao!”
And Paolo was gone. And like each time of him being gone, with each phone call becoming more increasingly brief, he always seemed like a kite, flying higher and higher in the air, and she kept letting out more line, until that kite was completely obscured by clouds.
But, that is the way of many things, she thought, and so she took a sip of tea, tucked her feet underneath her on the couch. Her cat came and curled up beside her. She picked up the book she’d been trying to find the time to read (Idle Hands, by Cassondra Windwalker), and as she turned the page, she wondered if,
at this specific moment,
on this specific day,
if this feeling of quiet, gentle absence,
is shared by Yoko Ono.