In Medieval Italy

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Literature Text

You pick your way through the narrow alleyways of medieval Italy.  It's a warm country, but your feet are bare, and the tiles below you are stingingly cold.  You suppose 'country' is a bit of an exaggeration.  It's a warm southern European collection of petty warring city-states.

But that doesn't have quite the right cadence.
You trip on a rope, and fall heavily.  Shitfuckdammit, you mutter, springing to your feet and praying that nobody heard the sound.  Was that one of the important ropes?  Was it attached to anything?  The answer is apparently no.

The walls of the town square adjacent to this alley are positively lined with the important ropes.  There are, however, the unimportant ropes, like the one that just so rudely assaulted you.  Those are all over the place.

It strikes you that there are rather a lot of ropes in medieval Italy.

You have some divine foreknowledge that your master won't be needing you for some time, so you amble out of the alleyway.

He doesn't need you very often, it seems.  He spends far too much time moping around writing bad poetry while his young servant listens attentively.  Sometimes you feel like you hardly exist.  Then again, it's only because you play the flute that you have the good fortune to exist at all.

You emerge into the lighted space, where your fellow townspeople are bustling about, fixing clothes and makeup and what have you.  A man dressed in a style from about four hundred years from now looks up from a makeup palette the size of a table to engage in conversation with Maria.

Ah, these eyebrows, he says, making a grand and wrist-heavy gesture at her face.  Where did you get these eyebrows?

It's on the tip of your tongue to say something witty about mugging a beautiful gypsy for them.  Unfortunately, the moment passes before the sentence has time to solidify in your mind.  You wonder who else you can bother.

There we go.  The young Sebastian DiMessalina is swaying back and forth in an office chair, making faces at a mirror.  You put your hands on his shoulders and grin at his reflection.

Ciao Sebastian. Che succede?

He raises his eyebrows.  Ehhh.

Is that a common word in Italian, you ask.

Oh, very.  It means, yes, I acknowledge that you spoke to me, but I have nothing to say, and also no worries, he says.

We have an equivalent word in Swedish.  It's- here you give a short inhale through your nose.

Was that it?


You're getting bored again.  You say, I like it here.

In the costume room?

What costume room?  No, no, in medieval Italy.  All your lives are going to work out pretty well, I think.  I bet you miss Oliviola though.

He gives your reflection a rather serious look.  Viola, he corrects you.

Ja, her too.

You clap him on the shoulder in what seems to you a very manly gesture, and go wandering off to find the other court musician.  You find her absently plucking out a tune on her violin, pretty almond eyes staring at the door in either frustration or intense concentration.

Hello bandmate, you say.

She looks up at you and smirks.  It must have been concentration, then.  


You sit down on the couch next to her and attempt to re-tie your corset.  Suddenly, a thought occurs to you.  You say, What do you think happens to us?

Huh? she says.

You know.  After Oliviola number one stops being a guy, and Oliviola number two falls in love with Sebastian, and They All Lived Happily Ever After?  Everyone gets a happy ending.  Even Maria gets married.  Malvolio doesn't get a happy ending, but at least you know what happens to him.  We just kinda play music and disappear.

She furrows her eyebrows.  I guess our problem is that we aren't real characters, she says.

Course we are!  We're wearing corsets, dammit.  Of course we're real characters.

Mr Crow made us up, she counters flatly.

This is not an acceptable answer.  This is not an acceptable answer, you say.

She shrugs.  Okay okay okay, she says, smiling a little.  Here's the plan.  Once, as you put it, the Oliviolas live happily ever after, we find a time machine backstage.


SHHHHHH, hisses Oliviola.

The violinist continues.  Okay, so in the alleyway, we find a time machine.


And we get in the time machine.

Where do we go?

To now.

But it's 1601!

The violinist sighs.  We go to the year 2011, she says.  And we go to high school and get really good SAT scores and go to a top college and get rich.  The end.

And They All Lived Happily Ever After, you say.

The two of you look at each other and laugh.
I'm in the school fall play of Twelfth Night.
All the people in this story are real. Most of the dialogue is not real, but it's pretty accurate to the kinds of conversations we have backstage.

And yes, I'm referring to myself in the second person. Because apparently I am schizophrenic.
© 2011 - 2021 sealcheetahtiger
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