21. Oh, Noemi Defelice

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  ''The train leaves at 08:43. See you there.''

I still couldn't believe that I was doing this. That I woke up at 7:30 on Saturday and didn't feel tired at all. The people at the station crawled like zombies, and all I could think of was the morning breeze and how it reminded me of other mornings in which I felt all the enthusiasm I felt today. And then I saw her, standing on the platform with her yellow dress swirling in the wind, her hair brushed in a messy ponytail. And I knew. I knew that deep down, it was all thanks to her. That I woke up today because of her, that if she hadn't been there I would have kept my eyes closed waiting for everything to go away. I knew that people couldn't save other people, but some of them knew how to inspire you to save yourself. Noemi Defelice was one of those people. Noemi Defelice was special.

She smiled to the strangers who walked past her, radiant as always.

''Do they smile back?'' I asked.

As soon as she heard my voice, she turned her head. ''No, but their eyes always do.''

I grinned and we hopped on the train. The trip to Milan usually took two hours, but I knew that with her they would fly by. She gave me one of her earphones and closed her eyes, immersing herself in the music. She sat next to the window, where the first rays of light caressed her skin.

So we were going to Milan to buy me a guitar. After everything that happened, I needed to do something for myself. I needed to get away, and I needed to have Noemi by my side.

When we got off the train, we spent an hour looking for the vintage shop. I used my GPS and Noemi asked strangers for directions. The vintage shop was called Rockettar. It smelt like dust and its walls were covered with rock band posters and car plates from all around the world. Noemi bought a few new records and then she helped me choose the guitar. After analysing dozens of them, I finally found the one I liked the most. It was an acoustic engelmann spruce Yamaha. Since it was vintage, it only cost 200 Euros.

''We have to celebrate!'' Noemi exclaimed as soon as we walked out the shop. She took a bottle of champagne out of her backpack and smiled.

''Wow, where did you get that?''

She shrugged and chuckled. ''I don't know, I found it at home.''

We crossed the street and sat on an empty bench. I couldn't ignore the curious glances sent our way, but somehow I found them amusing. Noemi opened the bottle of champagne with a paper clip.

''To your beginning!'' she exclaimed.

She took a long gulp and then handed me the bottle. The sparkling wine made its way to my stomach and I smiled.

''To my beginning?''

''Yes!'' Noemi said. "I can already see it. The adventures of Pietro Rossi and his guitar. The documentary of a rock star. And you'll say it all started here, in that little shop right there. And you'll say Noemi Defelice was by your side.''

I chuckled. ''How can you be so sure I'll become a rock star? You've never even heard me play.''

''I don't need to,'' she said. ''I can see the way you look at her.'' She glanced at my guitar and smirked. ''You, my friend, are in love.''

I looked at the dimples on her cheeks and smiled. ''You're right, I am in love.''

''See? Passion is all that matters, and the rest will come.'' She stood up and grabbed her backpack. ''Come on now, let's explore this city.''

The excitement in her voice was thrilling. As we walked the streets of Milan, she commented on every little thing. Milan was quite different from Genoa. It smelt of gasoline, Chanel and kebabs. It was crazier. It had more young people and they all knew how to dress. Some of them were extravagant and no one seemed to care. And Noemi and I, we perfectly blended in.

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