Under Two Shires Oak – Episode 58

IT ended up with Enzo hiring a car, as he’d planned, but just going about on day trips, returning to them every night.

Luigi clearly thought the world of him. They had become good friends while working together, despite their difference in age.

The rest of the family all took to Enzo, too. It wasn’t difficult. He was as Jessica had thought when she’d first met him.
Just . . . nice. Very easy going, he immediately fitted in well with them, keeping her mum and gran company while they watched the soaps they both loved, with the excuse that it helped his English, although that was already very good.

Enzo was a stonemason, highly skilled, like Luigi. Inspired by some of the lovely buildings he’d worked on, like Jessica he had become interested in art. So she took him to several little local galleries, mostly exhibiting paintings of the surrounding landscape, and then to larger ones in nearby towns.

Eventually, replaying the trip she’d made during the summer, they went to London, setting off in his hire car to the nearest main station in the chilly dark, for winter was now well set in.

Jessica had hugely enjoyed that first visit to the National and the Royal Academy. It had been a memorable day for her. But with Enzo it was even better. Like her, he was happy just to sit for ever and gaze at a painting – or, in his case, a piece of sculpture, his own job giving him more of a feeling for that.

“In the summer,” she told him, “I had the idea of finding myself a job in the art world. The problem is, I can’t paint or anything like that. And I’m not what you’d call knowledgeable about paintings and painters, so I couldn’t be a guide unless I did some study, I suppose. I did think of that.” She frowned. “But I do love the atmosphere of places like this.”

“Places like this,” he pointed out, “have staff in, how do you call it? Administration posts. Doing work like you sometimes do at your father’s surgery. Seek a job like that, but in a place like this!”

Afterwards, they walked along the main shopping streets, where, as Enzo said, the shops’ window displays, in their getting-ready-for-Christmas glory, were almost works of art themselves.

Of course, Jessica wanted to look inside, lipstick and perfume still having a place in her life alongside the Renoirs and Rembrandts!

“Do you mind?” she asked him.


And he genuinely didn’t seem to, either. Nor did he look bored, like many of the men in her life always did when they stepped inside a big store.

They had something to eat in a little pizzeria that looked very ordinary, but whose food Enzo declared to be the best he’d had outside his homeland.

Then it was time to get the train back north. They were both tired and Enzo, who seemed able to sleep anywhere, had a nap.

Jessica smiled as she watched him on the seat opposite hers. She felt she’d known this man for all her life, not just a fortnight.

At the station nearest her home, they found Enzo’s hire car badly iced-over. The temperature had fallen like a stone, and the last few miles home had to be taken slowly and carefully.

Arriving back at the house at last, their hands touched briefly as they both unlocked their seatbelts. She was sure he was going to kiss her.

But then another car pulled up behind them – it was her dad, home from evening surgery.

“You two had a good time in the big city, then?” Marco called to them. “It’s gone cold now, hasn’t it?”

“Yes,” Jessica agreed with her father.

But she was thinking about the magic moment between her and Enzo, now lost.

Alan Spink

I am a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. I enjoy working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, I also write fiction and enjoy watching football and movies in my spare time. My one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.