Feb 2024, 1st: Belle du jour

I am watching her from across the street. First, she sprinkles flour all over the counter-top and places a soft, pre-made oily dough in the middle. She then rests her hands on the dough and feels the coolness of it. Her hands encase, carefully hiding and protecting it from view. As she caresses the dough, kneading it with her firm and supple movements, she knows its full potential, what it will become and the satisfaction it will bring to those who are lured by the scent, and then taste.

She reaches for the rolling pin, showers the dough liberally with flour and begins to roll with swift but precise movements. When the dough is stretched and shaped evenly, its lifted into the air with a delicate twist of the wrist. Dancing with delight, the dough is now transformed into a perfect pizza base. She curls the edges inwards, preparing the crust, then lovingly brushes the middle with a generous drizzle of olive oil, and then slowly basting all the crevices between the folds of the crust. Spooning a ladle of sugo into the middle, she spreads the sauce with a circular motion until the base is red and velvety, and primed for toppings.

I take another sip of my coffee and realise the foam at the bottom of my cup is now cold and detached, having once been at the surface, warming my lips. This is my daily routine, sitting at this café across the street from the pizzeria.

Today, I find myself mesmerised by her making pizza du jour. It is the same repetitive motion she uses to make pizza each day however, her focus and creativity dedicated to each one is absolute. I am ensconced and I yearn to know what drives her to do this each day.

A light breeze sweeps through the open door of the café and the smell of oregano, garlic, and parmesan wafts through the air, intermingling with the roast of coffee beans. I close my eyes, and this takes me right back to St Mark’s Square in Venice. April 2019.

The string quartet plays in the distance on a cool, spring night and the sky was a stunning cobalt blue. My wife, Macy was swaying her hips as we waltzed to The Blue Danube. I remember how perfect life was in that very moment, every ingredient selected and composed with just the right amount to create magic to satisfy all my senses. I did not believe it was possible to share this moment of perfection in time, immersed together in the beauty that surrounded us then.

I open my eyes and stare down into my empty cup. I contemplate getting up to order another coffee but immobilised by an unconscious force, I stare back out of the window to the pizzeria. My eyes search for her but she does not appear, and my feel a sudden deep despair that she is gone forever.

I have mourned the loss of beauty, certainty, and the use of all my senses. And Macy. She was my companion in life, the one who taught me how to appreciate the time dedicated to perfecting one’s craft and creating beauty in this world. I have only begun to observe the possibility of perfection but only from afar. Still, I sit and watch, paralysed not knowing how to begin again.

“Hi, is this seat taken?” said a soft, bright voice nearby.

I look up and my familiar stranger is standing by the lonely chair at my table. I am not sure by the enquiring look in her sparkling eyes and the single dimple accenting her smile whether she is asking to take the chair or to take the seat opposite me. There was an innocence about her, and I recall her wrist and her graceful fingers caressing the dough. Those same fingers now rest on the wooden frame of the chair. She waits patiently, as I feel my senses awaken.

“Please join me”. I overcome my hesitation and match her smile. She takes the seat and I contemplate the creation of another perfect moment in time.

© Tropical Writers Inc 2024

Website created by RJ New Designs