16. Dancing with Naruto

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When I opened my eyes all I could see was a blurry image of white. It was too white. I felt like someone was hitting my brain with a hammer. There was this funky music playing in the background, but I didn't know where it was coming from. I was lying in someone's bed. It wasn't mine because it was softer and cosier. I tried to stand up, but my body was shaking. Dizzy, I sat down. It wouldn't be nice to throw up in someone else's bedroom.

I looked around, rubbing my eyes. And then I saw her. My saviour. And all I could do was stare at her open mouthed. She was in the kitchen, I could see her silhouette as she danced around from the sink to the fridge to the sink to the counter. She was wearing only a large Vans T shirt, her hair a beautiful mess. And I was completely hypnotized by the way she moved her shoulders and tilted her head and how her legs could never stand still. She put a strawberry in her mouth and God, strawberries had never looked so delicious and tasty and... wait. I wasn't supposed to think of Noemi Defelice this way. She was the goofy girl with philosophical quotes and a cute smile. But maybe she was also this. This girl that danced so spontaneously and freely and had a body that I couldn't take my eyes off.


I winced. I caught her off guard dancing and she caught me off guard looking at her. We both had rosy cheeks and boggled eyes, but then she suddenly laughed and with a startling simplicity brushed it off.

"You're awake," she said as she walked into the bedroom with a tray in her hand. "I'm sorry if the volume's too high. It's Tom Rosenthal, She don't care, you just can't stand still when you hear that song." She put the tray on the bed and sat next to me. ''I googled hangover remedies. I hope you like fried eggs.''

''I love fried eggs. Thank you.'' I sat up and grabbed a fork. I had so many questions and so many things to say, but my mind was too dense to formulate even a single sentence. Perhaps a part of me thought this was a dream.

She bit into an apple and turned on the TV. As we ate and watched Naruto, she read the questions in my mind and replied to all of them. Like a tragic comedy, she recounted the events of this morning that led to us eating fried eggs on her bed. Today was the day she had decided to wake up early and go running at 7am. She had decided it at other occasions as well, but had never acted upon her self-promises. Today, however, was a special day, and maybe it was destiny or maybe pure chance, but as she ran around the neighbourhood she found me sleeping on a bench. Sleeping. On a bench. At 7am. In the neighbourhood where lived my friends, my parents and my parents' friends. She said I rambled about strawberry ice cream and was convinced that Santa Claus put a jar of ice cream in her fridge and that we absolutely had to go and check. And we did. And then I fell asleep on her bed.

I wished there was something more to this story and I wished I had remembered it. I was almost certain that I had said something embarrassing to her and I just hoped it wasn't a stupid love confession. Alcohol can do that shit to you, it can turn you into a dumber Romeo.

''Well, thank you for saving me, Noemi Defelice.''

She chuckled, ''you're welcome.''

I stood up and started touring her room. It was an unconventional tidy mess. A pile of canvases was hiding behind the door, big plants standing in every corner. The shelves were filled with books, vintage envelops and candles. She even had a poster of Chuck Berry upon her desk, along other images she clipped on that wall. Miniature paintings of Monet and Frida, a tiny astronaut suit, a map of Genoa in 1850, a black and white photograph of her mum in a flower field. It all looked new, as though she did it all this summer. On her desk, I saw our Physics book, a notebook and in the corner, my phone charging.

My friends. I had to call my friends. I felt almost guilty for not thinking of them earlier. As I unlocked the screen, I expected to see dozens of messages and missed calls. They must have been freaking out wondering where I was. They must have been in panic, right? They must have been... But no. There were no calls, no messages. Nothing at all.

Now I was the one to panic.

I called Dario. I called him three times and he didn't reply. I called Virginia. I called Gaia. I called Stiff. I even called Diego fucking Rodriguez. No reply. Fuck. What the hell was going on? Did something happen to them? Oh God. What if something happened to them. What if they were in trouble? And I was here, eating apples and watching Naruto.


I sat down.

''Pit, are you okay? What's going on?'' Noemi sat next to me and tried to look me in the eye.

''It's my friends,'' I stuttered. "Something feels wrong. I, uhm, can we go buy that strawberry ice cream I wanted so much? I think I need some air."

Confused, she smiled softly and nodded. ''Of course.''

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