It was Matteo’s favorite time of day, the evening revelers safely in bed, his shift complete. He watched the early morning sun as it kissed east facing facades and gently blew away the rising mist. This was not the shortest way home near Casa di Marco Polo, but he had business before he could sleep. His gondola slid across the Grand Canal’s calm water without making a sound. The dome of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute lay in front of him. There were many churches in Venice, but Matteo selected the Salute on purpose.
Construction began in 1631 after the plague subsided. They built the Salute in gratitude, praising God for saving Venice from the latest outbreak of Black Death. In 1681 the Basilica finished, its dome became a Venice skyline hallmark and the subject of many noted artists. It was Matteo’s manifestation of any remaining hope.
It didn’t take Matteo long to offer his daily prayers and return to his gondola. He crossed the Grand Canal, slipped into the Rio de Palazzo de Canonica, behind Palazzo Ducale, and under the Ponte del Sospiri. His gondola shifted from sunshine to deep shadows where buildings blocked the questing fingers of light. Shadows encased his home, and he shook, chilled, as he secured the boat before heading upstairs.
“Sophia,” he said kissing her on both cheeks. “How is Mama?”
“She slept through the night. You should sleep before she wakes.”
Matteo nodded and headed to the bedroom. He stopped at Mama’s door to look in at her. She was peaceful as she slept, innocent as a child, her cheeks puffing in and out with her breath. He wiped his hand over his tired face, hoping and praying this would be a good day, aware the good days were coming less often now. On a good day, Mama knew where was, recognized Sophia and Matteo and remembered Papa died years ago. The bad days were challenging, leaving them in dark places, searching for even a single ray of sunshine.
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer