Thankfully, being Italian the infamous number thirteen doesn’t have any effect on me. Seventeen on the other hand… I had my final high school exam on a Friday seventeen and it happened to be an Ancient Greek poem to translate in Italian. Serial killers were born that day.
I followed Clare’s suggestion and wrote just for fun. I know, incredible concept isn’t it? I have several works in progress—just remembered there’s a third story I started and never looked at again—but between the jet lag and life in general, I can’t concentrate. So here it is something I poured on the keyboard without thinking. It’s so liberating to put down words without worrying about writing from beginning to end. Forgive me the length, I didn’t have time to shorten it. Aptly named X…
The train didn’t stop. Allegra looked at the landscape outside the window, an ever-changing river of colors following each other in a maddening rush.
“I know where we are.” She tapped at the window with her long, brightly painted nail.
“Do you?” Julius raised his head from the article he was reading and looked outside.
“See the greens and the violets?”
“Yes, and the oranges and the reds.” He squinted but his expression remained puzzled. He did close the glass reader though and focused on her words.
She could see the news flowing under the surface of the reader, but she tried her best to ignore it. “I remember when I was a kid, my mom and I travelled for miles and miles through lavender fields and orchards to visit an old uncle. He lived in Rallen—”
“I have a cousin who lives in Rallen,” Julius started saying, then realization dawned on him. “Lived, I guess. So the rumors about Rallen being exed were true. ”
“So it seems. I’m sorry for your cousin. Maybe he’s still alive. Nobody knows for sure what happens behind the city walls.”
Julius cleaned a tear with the palm of his hand, sadly smiled and took a deep breath before saying, “Rallen was all white marbles and spires. It looked like delicate lace from faraway.”
Allegra understood his silent request to change the subject and didn’t interrupt his reminiscence. “We took tons of pictures inside the Mosque. Its ceilings were so high.”
A few minutes later, browns replaced the rainbow and she knew Cartaghena was next. Orchards once stretching for acres had been destroyed by wildfires soon after Centralia proclaimed martial law and started putting cities under quarantine by drawing the letter X on the municipal buildings doors. Only one month after the first exing in the ancient city of Lavi, walls were erected as a precaution to ensure the safety of the healthy citizens. Allegra had never believed Centralia’s good intentions.
“Will the train stop to let us go home?” Julius asked, the news already forgotten under the transparent screen of the reader as Cartaghena drew closer.