The valley covered in a fine mist calmly awaited the day to begin.
The middle-aged lady walked under the gentle rain, protected by her red umbrella. The trees, heavy with dripping water, in her mind seemed like a new species…mature with its transparent falling fruit.
Sunday morning, most people were still asleep, the silence was deep, except for the occasional bird. A couple of sparrows flew overhead, chirping, they dived to pick up some crumbs someone had thrown out for them. A cat, sitting on a ledge watched them too, its tail swishing.
A yellow light filtered here and there from windows along the walk-way. She imagined children getting out of bed and sitting down at the kitchen table. A cup of hot chocolate or warm milk with a spot of coffee awaiting them, a few cookies or a brioche, typical Italian breakfast. Just as her sons had done so many years ago, she thought. The chatter of their voices came back to her, she smiled.
Walking past the church, a black-bird hopped in the grass. Blackbirds and sparrows, most of the other birds had flown south, but blackbirds and sparrows were always faithful companions during her walks, they never left.
Soon the faithful would be called to mass. The big booming bell would ring out its invitation. A few old ladies were already at the door waiting to go in. The door was still locked against the evils of the night. She remembered when church doors were never locked. The church had been the sanctuary of the poor once. She also remembered the newspaper articles, over the years, with their headlines of this or that rare painting being stolen from a church.
She thought of Victor Hugo’s Jean Valjean, stealing sacred objects from the good priest’s house. Jean gets arrested and taken back to the priest’s house so that the stolen objects can be identified. The priest, thanks the gendarme for bringing Jean to his home, because he’d forgotten the silver candle holders which he’d wanted Jean to have. Now, the church locks its doors. Times change, she thought, but then Hugo spoke of this priest as an exceptional person, not the norm.
The warm light of the cafe shone out through the morning mist, invitingly. As she walked through the door the lady behind the counter smiled.
“Buon giorno signora!” she said cheerily, “The usual?”
“Yes, cappuccino and brioche.” she sat down at a table and opened the newspaper she’d picked up from the counter.