The Sicilian

Hello Salvatore, It’s been a long time.

My grandmother died in February & it brought back memories for me. Memories of when I lost my grandfather, around the time we split.

I know I’ve never spoke to you about what happened. I know I just left. But I’d like to speak about it now.

That day when you came to Palermo Airport to collect me & you told me you’d made the decision to come with me to Malta, I was so happy.

But I realize now, looking back, that when you said that, that day you backed yourself into a corner, because you knew you weren’t coming.

Maybe you said it because you wanted it to be true.

Maybe you said it because you had missed me so much while I had been away. I don’t know.

But as time grew closer, to make plans for Malta, you began to panic. You were dreading having to tell me the truth. I think that’s why you went missing so much, in those final days.

You were avoiding me.

Avoiding having to have that conversation with me.

That day in the car when I confronted you, I was almost afraid to ask what was going on. Because somewhere inside of me, I knew what you were about to say.

That day when you told me you weren’t coming to Malta, I was devastated.

Devastated at what you were saying to me.

Devastated at the way you were telling me.

Because I knew, if you weren’t prepared to make a home for me in Sicily or come away with me to Malta, then you weren’t prepared to make a life for us. So you were telling me it was over.

Instead of appreciating you had just broken my heart, you cruelly threatened to throw me out of the car if I didn’t stop crying.

Then you drove to your friend’s garage & called him over, to parade my heartbreak in public.

You stood there pointing and laughing at me Salvatore, like I was some whore in your car, who just wouldn’t get out. It was totally humiliating.

Then you proceeded to beat me.

Beat me as I tried to leave your car.

Can I be honest with you?

I think you beat me that day because you hated yourself for what you’d just done, because you knew you had just broken my heart.

And even though part of you wanted to be free, when you saw me reach for that car door that day, you knew it was over, you knew you had lost me forever.

I will never forget the look on your face when you picked me up by my hair & proceeded to beat me like I was some disobedient dog.

All I could think was ‘’ why is he beating me ? he is the one who made me cry’’.

When I got home afterwards my grandfather called. He had heard the news. I felt so ashamed, having to admit to him what you’d done, I just broke down.

The next day when he called he sounded so tired Salvatore.

He said he hadn’t slept all night, worrying about me. He begged me to leave Sicily. To leave you.

That was the last conversation I ever had with him. Later that day he was rushed to hospital & he died 48 hours later.

The man I loved like a father, the man who had saved me as a child & our last ever conversation was about you beating me like a dog.

I felt like I had killed him. I felt like you had killed him.

All I could think was my papa had gone to his grave worrying if I was safe. Safe from you.

After the beating you began ringing me at all hours of the night while I waited to hear if my father would live or die. You left messages on my phone from whatever bar you were in. You didn’t even have the decency to face me. Or call me at a respectable hour.

In those first few days after it ended, I questioned everything about our relationship. Whether you had ever really loved me? Been faithful to me? I remembered all the warnings the Romanians had tried to give me about you. And how I had defended you more than any man in my entire life.

I felt such a fool.

It is a horrible thing, when you have to question if your whole relationship has been a lie.

After my father died, you began bombarding my phone day & night. It was awful. I was trying to cope with my grief and I felt so hounded by you.

I want you to know, those were some of the darkest days of my life.

For 30 days I’d wake up crying, then pass out with exhaustion from crying or drinking. I didn’t wash, didn’t eat. I honestly think I wanted to die.

Then you began sending boys to my house.

At first I thought you’d sent them to physically hurt me. That’s how badly I questioned you Salvatore. But all the boys wanted to do was give me gifts & beg me to forgive you.

I want you to know with every fibre of my being I wanted to forgive you Salvatore. I was so in love with you. But I felt so betrayed by you.

What killed me the most was that out of all the things you could have done, you had picked the one thing that would not allow me to return to you. And knowing you’d picked that one thing, nearly drove me insane.

Honestly, if you had cheated on me it would have been easier. But you had placed me in an impossible situation.

I am trying to explain the huge amount of sorrow it caused me, to have to turn my back on you.

When you sent that letter, it didn’t really seem like an apology and that made me sad. Because even at that late stage, when I was so close to leaving, you still couldn’t take responsibility for what you had done.

You had deliberately destroyed me Salvatore so you could take the cowards way out.

When I read in that letter that your friends thought I would be with another man within a year it made me feel sick to my stomach.

I tried dating, for a week but I realized it was impossible while I was still so in love with you. So I gave up. Stopped going out. I just shut myself away for 3 years & remained alone.

The day of my father’s funeral I went to church to lit a candle for him. I can honestly say that was the loneliest day of my life.

Afterwards, when I got home, the grief was suffocating, I couldn’t breath. I knew if I stayed in the house I might end up hurting myself or worse. So I rang the one person I could ask for help, Savario. I asked him to keep me company while I got out of the house, out of the town for an hour. I just needed a break & I didn’t want to be alone. I was in so much pain.

I remember driving past you that day on my way out of town. I will never forget the look on your face. You looked like a man who’d lost everything. You looked totally haunted.

I don’t know why you followed me that day. But now you know why I went out with Savario.

I left the bar because you were causing such a scene. And to be honest, I just couldn’t deal with it, not on the day my father was buried.

2am that night, you set fire to my house.

Maybe you felt angry because I wouldn’t forgive you.

Maybe you felt jealous about Savario.

I don’t honestly know.

All I know is I woke to a loud explosion & a sound like someone was kicking down my door. All I could see was smoke pouring up my stairs. When I went out on the balcony I realized you had blocked my only exit from the house.

What were you trying to do Salvatore, burn me alive?

Up until that point, I had been prepared to keep our business private but when you set fire to my house, I didn’t know what you’d do next. Cut the brakes on my car? Throw a device through my window? You were acting like a lunatic.

That’s why I reported you to the police. I had no other choice.I had no family, no protection, in Sicily.

Do I wish with all my heart you’d pick another day to do that to me? Rather than the day my father was buried. Yes I do. But there are a lot of things I wish you’d done differently.

I want you to know no-one has ever broken my heart the way you did.

And I know it was only possible because of how deeply I loved you.

You may not understand this but the reason I emailed your son, to tell you I’d forgiven you, was because I didn’t want you to suffer any more. I wanted you to forgive yourself. Because I believe you are a man who privately carries around a lot of regret.

I think, if you could tell me anything right now, you would say ‘’ you know, it was never going to work out between us’’ And I would nod sadly, because you’d be right.

Because not only could you not see a future for us, you couldn’t see a future for yourself. The man you used to be in Germany, somewhere along the way, a large part of that man died. And what is left of you now resides back in Sicily.

Do you really want to know why I never returned ?

Remember those wild horses that wander the hills.Those beautiful wild stallions. Well if you try to tame them Salvatore, you take away the very thing that makes them so beautiful. Their wild untamed nature is what makes them so beautiful.

You cannot tame a horse like that with fear. The only way to tame an animal that wild is with love.

You beat me to tame me. And I knew you would do it again if I returned to you. That is why I never came back.

I loved you so much Salvatore but I didn’t want to grow to fear you. I just wanted you to love me for who I was.

I want you to know I will always miss you. And I cannot hate you, no matter what you did. My soft Irish heart won’t allow it. But what you did brought me so much sadness Salvatore, for such a long time.

And I think I just needed to write this letter, because I didnt want to carry that sadness around inside me anymore. It’s like a sickness. A poison.

Do you understand?

From the day we got together, you and Sicily became the same thing to me. And until I try separating out my feeling for you, from my feelings for Sicily, I know I will never be able to return.

Maybe this letter is my way of trying to start doing that. I don’t know. But I have start somewhere.

I am so, so sorry, that things happened like they did. For both our sakes.

I’m sorry things got so messed up. So complicated.

From the day you pulled up outside my house, when I was sat outside on the pavement, covered in dirt like a child & you grinned at me, I was just drawn to you.

And I think it was the same for you.

I remember months before ,outside the bank, when you picked up my arm to look at my henna tattoo. I think it was there between us even then, we just didn’t know it.

Fate salvatore.

I honestly thought I’d end up spending the rest of my life with you.

But I was wrong.