A small excerpt from my novel “Una casa di vento”.

The table has been extended and covered with a red tablecloth, bought in a Chinese store, which does not need to be ironed and is washed with a sponge. The dishes, on the other hand, are the good ones. Michela even tried to make a centerpiece out of discount candles and cones sprinkled with silver spray. Keeping your hands and head busy is an effort that consumes a lot of energy, exhausts and leaves room for little else, but it is essential, it is part of the daily process of repression, which has been going on for a long time now. At this very moment she forces herself to keep her eyes fixed on the plate she is holding, to breathe in order to clear her head and find a way to get to the end of the evening. From the kitchen comes a sickening smell of scorched croutons and sizzled roast. It is as if there were luminous writings in the air, festoons announcing the advent of horror, not of Jesus.
The unbearable is happening and yet she will have to endure the dinner to the end. It seems to her that she is dying, but not as her child, rather as a private death, all closed inside her. She tries hard to pretend nothing has happened, to turn the rictus she has on her face, since the doorbell rang, into a smile. She still breathes deeply, then goes into the kitchen, starts fumbling with the oven, burns herself, swears. The lights in the hall are all on, it seems that things are sparkling fiercely. “It’s the last Christmas for Loris, you have to be there,” she said on her phone to her sister. “Yes, but I’ll bring someone,” Rosi replied.
Loris is already placed at the head of the table, near the tree finally straightened and full of gifts, almost all for him. He has three pillows to support his back, a trickle of saliva running down his chin, he has a hard time turning his head, yet he always turns to follow her comings and goings from the kitchen. The more the days go by, the worse he gets and the more he needs her, the more he seeks her out until every minute she spends away from him seems hateful. It serves to increase her sense of guilt and she clings to it because that too is a human feeling, a mom feeling.
Francesco is standing in front of the French window, his fists and jaw are clenched in that pose that she knows all too much, he seems about to open the window and throw someone down, he looks out into the darkness of the night that, here on the avenue of Antignano, has no luminara, climbing santas or fluorescent tubes on the terraces. Here the sea reigns supreme over everything, even on Christmas. Not like in Borgo, where you could perceive it from the illuminated trees against the wide open windows, from the noises of pots and dishes, from the smells of croutons and sauces that filtered under the doors saturating the landings, from the lights that decorated the terraces and gave a hint of human presence, of close people who are doing the same thing as you and thinking the same thoughts as you.
Rosi is sitting on one of the two sofas, next to her is their mother who is saying to her: “Ok … so in the end you got engaged too”. Her mother seems really happy while she mentions Luca, lying on the other sofa. When they rang, Michela went to open and stood petrified at the door, silent, she felt that her blood was draining from her face. She felt as if someone tied a brick around her neck to drag her to the bottom of a cesspool. “Merry Christmas,” said Luca, and his mouth was raised to one side, it wasn’t a smile, it was a growl. He conquered the entrance, invading it as if he weighed not sixty kilos but a hundred, as if he were not five feet but two meters tall. And now he is there, he breathes the same air as Francesco, his eyes follow her, pierce the nape of her neck even when she runs away to the kitchen to save herself. Michela would like to open the door wide and run down into the dark, among the hedges, on the dirt road, to the freezing winter sea, to throw herself in and disappear into the night. She can’t do it, they’re all there for Loris’s last damn Christmas, they’re there to smile and pretend that there will be many more crappy ones like this. “

The last Christmas