Carmella studied her reflection in the deco mirror that had hung in her hallway for nearly half a century now. It looked just as did when she received it on her wedding day, elegant, and timeless, unlike the Carmella that stared back at her. She didn’t recognise herself these days, and hadn't for a long time, not since Rocco had died. Her long, jet-black hair was now a white rounded cloud upon her head. Her big brown eyes had become shrouded in deep wrinkles that were magnified by her milk bottle glasses, and her dress sense had digressed back to what her own grandmother would of worn in her small, Sicilian town.
She sighed at the old woman in the mirror and then looked over at the woollen shawl that hung by the door. The New York weather wasn’t quite as forgiving as her family’s town of Enna, so she wrapped the shawl around her shoulders, picked up the tin foil ball that she had placed on the sideboard and gently put it into her pocket before grabbing the large sack next to the door. She opened the front door and stepped out onto the wooden porch, looking over her shoulder.
“Bye bye Rocco” she affectionately called out in her nasal Queens accent before closing the door behind her. Even though Rocco was gone, Carmella believed that he had never really left her, and remained in their marital home long after he had died. She would stay in that house until it was her turn to join him some day, but at eighty years of age, she was as sharp as a tack and intended to stick around until her grandchildren appeared, if Tommy ever got his act together and settled down with a nice girl. She knew that deep down Tommy and his friends were good boys, despite what everyone else thought of them.
She shivered as the autumn wind blew crisp leaves across the porch, and took her time to carefully walk down the steps and onto the path. Carmella looked around suspiciously before walking on and followed the path all the way to the lake, clumsily dragging the sack behind her.
When she had finally reached the lake, she rested herself against a large tree at the edge of the water and sheltered from the whipping leaves that were being mercilessly thrashed around in the wind. She let out an exasperated “Wooo!” and reached into her pocket for the tin foil ball. She unwrapped it and proudly smiled down at her homemade arancini ball before taking a big bite out of the top. After greedily devouring her rice ball, she chuckled to herself as she wiped her lips and pulled her shawl tighter around her chest.
“Come on come on..” she quietly muttered as she looked out at the lake. After a few moments of waiting, she huffed impatiently and looked down at the sack.
“What’s taking you so long? she asked the sack expectantly.
“Hey! I told you already, if you didn’t keep me up all night I wouldn’t need to do this. It’s great out there, you’ll be fine…Rocco’s waiting for you, and your dawg brothers are there! For God’s sake stop being such a baby!”
After another few moments of waiting, a quiet mew escaped from the sack, along with a delicate, ginger tabby paw. Carmella sighed and shrugged. “Get your foot back in there you stoopid cat…If Tommy hadn’t of borrowed my good hammer, this’d be over already!”
she grumbled as she poked the paw back in and gave the sack a little kick. Tommy was always borrowing his moms tools for something or other, as if she didn't know what him and his pals got up to. After a moment of contemplation, Carmella pulled herself up from the tree.
“Allora!” she exclaimed reluctantly as she bent down to pick up the sack and dragged it over to the edge of the lake. Without hesitating, she tipped the sack into the water, watching it sink downwards leaving nothing but a small eruption of bubbles that fell still within seconds.
Carmella looked down at the water blankly before turning around to take position by the tree again. After another few seconds of looking out at the lake, she impatiently exclaimed “So what, you're not coming?”
As if on cue, a boat appeared out in the distance, silently gliding across the lake. The evening amber sun shone brightly, turning the lake into liquid gold. A smile spread across Carmella’s face as she caught sight of the silhouette of her old cat and a man in the boat, rowing towards the reeds. “There you go…” she whispered through her smile.
The boat glided on, until it reached the other side of the lake and disappeared amongst the dark shadows. Carmella straightened up from the tree, and started her walk home just as the sun began to set. She reached her front porch just in time for the night light to flick on and entered her house.
“Hey Rocco!” she called out as she unwrapped herself from her shawl and went into the living room to switch on the old radio. She took a seat in her armchair and looked at the blank easel she had set up earlier. Dean Martin's voice filled the room causing Carmella to sway her head to the music as she picked up her paintbrush.
“Hey Rocco…you think Tommy will like this one as much as the last?” she called out as she put her brush to the canvas.
After an evening of painting and reminiscing, and singing to Rocco, Carmella headed to her bedroom that was conveniently located downstairs, next to the bathroom. She put on her nightgown and climbed into bed, looking over at her favourite photograph of Tommy that took pride of place on her bedside table. Carmella looked out of her window at the star-studded sky and smiled. “You boys..” she softly chuckled to herself, as she closed her tired eyes and fell into a deep sleep.
After a few peaceful hours, a beam of bright light shone through her window, waking Carmella from her slumber. She shot up in bed and listened to the whirring car engine cut out and the low mumble of Tommy’s voice. Carmella’s face lit up with excitement as she stumbled out of bed and grabbed her glasses from the nightstand. She shuffled into the kitchen, just in time to find Tommy and his pals entering the house, Tommy telling Jimmy “she keeps a shovel laying around here somewhere”.
“Look who’s here look who’s here..” she said as she put on her glasses and walked over to Tommy who was rushing over to kiss his mom.