The descendant thought it was time to reveal herself.
She had waited for too long. She had lied too.
Such a secret would have risked to kill her. Her plans were
now skipped; she could no longer trust anyone. Everyone was
playing her game and everyone was pursuing knowledge of the
ancient magic of Tiepole.
She would had enemies. The farce had to end, before the
situation could go worse. No longer needed to pretend nothing
when she knew that in this way she risked losing all the people
That same evening she would put an end to that story.
2. The arrival and the beginning
When i opened the shutters of the window a fresh wind hit me in
the face, forcing me to squint. Yet, to fully cover the four corners
of the town were the mountains, rippling like waves, properties
like petrified monsters, luminescent under the dim light of the
Tiepole had little more than a thousand souls who lived in tiny
houses attached to each other. The gates went right down on the
narrow road and for this reason this was impractical for
passenger cars, which alternated asphalt drilled sections and
cobblestones raised or missing.
Arduous and uncomfortable, that place was a town populated
mostly by elderly people. Young ones used to come during the
summer, returning from Rome to spend some time there as a
vacation with their families.
So, as my father used to say, i had to consider myself lucky to be
gone up there only in the middle of July, because i would have to
socialize with someone of my same age.
I wasn’t in Tiepole for a vacation, not even to stay there for good
(and i hoped that with all of my heart). I have never been in that
place before, although my mom had been there for a long time,
when she was younger. Tiepole was part of my life just in an
indirect way; it was a part of me, but i didn’t know yet.
I reached that place, in a hour of driving, because my grandfather
had died four days before. Him, my mom’s dad, had lived his last
years alone, in a little house between those mountains, a place he
I have never met him. We didn’t go to Tiepole to visit him and he
never came to Rome to see us. And finding myself in his house,
in the place he had consumed his whole life in, was giving me a
3. sense of discomfort. His picture were everywhere, pictures about
him riding a horse, white and black images of groups of men and
women i couldn’t recognize.
Only the pictures of him and my grandma were missing
(something i didn’t notice before; she died when i was only a few
The whole house smelled stuffy, of stale dust and mold. My
grandpa had perhaps passed his last days closed in that house,
before getting sick, completely alone, isolated by the rest of the
world. This thought didn’t let my discomfort grow, but i
understood very soon that this one was caused by a guilty feeling.
I knew my grandpa was living between those mountains, but i
have never showed any interest in him. I was ashamed of it.
After his funeral, had it in the city ( where none of the
Tiepolees had come) my parents both agreed we had to stay for
a few days in town to arrange the house and to decide what to
do with it. If turn it into a holiday resort for us (which i
abhorred at all), or if try to find a renter in less time possible.
The idea of spending time in that place was not mine and i
didn’t like it at all, but i couldn’t say no, go back or the fault
feeling would have devour me. I had to dedicate time to my
grandpa’s business, now that he wasn’t here anymore. I would
have felt relieved, in a certain way.
I heard my mom calling me from downstairs, and i felt ripped
from my thoughts in a rough way. I closed the windows
quickly, because the wind seemed to become stronger.
-I’m coming!- i answered to my mom’s call, with a bitter tone
My grandpa’s house had two floors, the upper one was made of
one room only, with a queen size bed, a bedside table and a
wardrobe. It could be reached by climbing a narrow staircase,
the most uncomfortable i have ever seen. I went downstairs
very slowly, with unfounded fears i could collapse at any
4. moment beneath my feet. Everything inside that house seems
like it was about to fall apart. I reached the living room, where
i saw my mom fighting with the closet, which seemed not to
want to open up. In front of me, from the small cooking corner,
a pot was boiling on the gas. Behind my back i have heard
someone in the bathroom: my dad appeared right after opening
a squeaky door.
-This bathroom is a hole!- he complained. –Even taking the
toilet papers seems to be a problem!-
-Dad…- i sarcastically replied. –this is a hole!-
My dad smiled and nodded.
-Instead of crying like babies, why don’t you come here to give
me a hand?- my mom complained while still fighting with the
little lock of the cupboard.
My father, still smiling, obeyed and took her place. She came
next to me standing, puffing and cursing.
From a few days she had become unmanageable. She had
never vented for the loss of my grandfather, at least not in front
of my eyes, and although she does not show it, she did not like
to be in her old house. Just like me and my father, she did not
feel comfortable in that place.
Not even my father was able to turn the key and open the lock.
He gave up before getting impatient.
-I think it will be better unhinge the door.- He concluded. -If
we do not, termites will!-
He looked over my mom, who didn’t say a word. Then she
crossed her arms and shrugged, going back to the smoking pot.
Me and my dad exchanged a weird look, worried. However
neither of us tried to ask her what was wrong; she would
exploded in a rambling monologue again. Maybe she just
needed some time or to leave that place sooner. She liked it
less than what would appeal to me. Too many memories.
5. "Emma, can you go to get come bread please?" she asked then.
while oiling a pan. "I showed you this morning where the
general store is, remember? It is the only one in town, you
cannot go wrong. "
I looked at her just like i did not quite understand. Did she just
said i had to go out by myself, in that unknown place and half-
abandoned, to reach the lower part of the town? And i should
have doing it by feet, since the narrow streets did not allow any
kind of car passing through to go back up there. We were
forced to leave our vehicle at the foot of the town, in the
municipal parking lot. Another reason why i hated that place: it
was all built uphill and while my grandfather's house was
located in the upper part, the shops were just the opposite,
I snorted, but i was forced to obey. I did not want to deal with
the frustration of my mother. My father, without speaking,
gave me five euros. I retrieved my jacket and went out without
saying a word. The road was deserted. I clutched in my jacket,
annoyed by the wind, although it was the middle of July, i was
cold. I walked fast. Reaching the store would not be difficult
since that was the only way that led to the flatter part of town.
At my sides the locked doors and the half-closed windows gave
the impression that the houses were empty. I did not hear any
noise, nor the volume of a turned on TV, or the hushed tones of
I shivered and accelerated my pace. The wind ruffled my hair,
since a tuft ended in front of my eyes i didn’t see one of the
many raised cobblestones. I stumbled and i almost fell. I cursed
softly, cursing that place too.
I stopped to manage my hair, without realizing that i had
stopped in front of a vaulted arch that i had not noticed in the
morning. I looked up and on top i recognized what was to be a
coat of arms, worn by time. A shield divided in half, it seemed.
6. But i didn’t stop to look at the details. I hurry to get to the store
and go home. But before i move, i turned my head to my left. I
began to believe that there couldn’t exist other ways to go back
other then the main one: on the contrary a very narrow street
started from there and ended up at a point that i could not see.
Even that one was deserted. I wondered, with not much
curiosity to tell the truth, where could have conduct a narrow
way like that one.
-Who are you?- The voice behind me made me jump. I whirled
around and saw in front of me the grim face of an old man,
who was holding a wooden hanger. He wore a wide-brimmed
hat, dark as his clothes. His gaze was not friendly at all, and i
knew immediately that it was not willing to do any kind of
presentation. Without answering i mentioned a greeting with a
hand and i began to descend the slope, increasing the pace,
being careful to the obstacle of the road. I felt the old man's
eyes on me and i shuddered again.
What an inhospitable place! How could my grandparents live
there for so many years? And above all, how my mother could
had spend her childhood and her adolescence there? I couldn’t
blame her if she had run away with my father in the city as
soon as she met him at university. He had all my sympathy,
and i certainly would have done the same.
Finally i reached the lower part of town in a small circular
square, a bar with a small outdoor garden, a newspaper stand
and some stores (a butcher's shop, a greengrocer and finally the
general store). The square was deserted at that hour, but at least
the bar tables were occupied. And as i predicted, all eyes
turned to look at me. In Tiepole foreigners maybe had to be a
novelty. Even if in the end i was not really a stranger, since my
grandparents had lived among them. Maybe they were sitting
in those tables once and they had been shopping right where i
was going to do at that time.
7. When i opened the door of the store, the bell, hanging on it,
announced my arrival. Two women turned to see who that was
and as soon as they notice me they began to stare. I tried to
pretend nothing has happened and i got in line waiting for my
turn. The woman who served was talking about a subject i did
not pay attention to. I caught phrases such as bad weather,
rainy summer, danger for the fields. But for me, that speech did
not make any sense and to be honest i didn’t even care about
it. I didn’t even observe the interior of the emporium, the
goods on the shelves or those inside the bar, the only thing i
could think about was the day when we would return to our
home in Rome.
-You are Achille’s granddaughter, right?- the woman in front
of me, in line, asked me.
I smiled and nodded. The woman who was serving at the
counter shut her mouth suddenly and started to stare at me; just
like everybody did.
-I’m so sorry for you loss!- the woman continued.
-Have you arrived this morning?- the one serving asked.
On her white apron i noticed a weird writing hand sowed:
Angela Renzetti, beloved wife and mother.
-Yes, early this morning.- i answered turning my gaze away,
-and are you going to stay for a long time?- she continued
leaning a little over the counter, so the writing on the apron
could be more visible. Everybody were staring at me waiting
for me to reply, as if my words were so important to take a
decision that concerned them. I, after a short pause of
-I don’t know!- i said. –Just the time to manage some matters, i
8. Almost like they had come to an agreement, the three women
who were in line and one behind the counter, nodded
simultaneously with their heads. I had the impression that they
have been expecting that answer, some sort of confirmation.
Perhaps, since we arrived in the village, that morning, they had
not talked about anything else. We were the topic of the day in
a place where nothing unusual never happened before.
Then, as if i were no longer present there, the other women
turned and began to ignore me; the woman at the counter
served the others very quickly and when my turn it came she
did the same. The people served before me came out not caring
about anybody and when was my turn to get out i greeted
whispering a goodbye and i almost ran. Good manners maybe
are not part of the Tiepolees’s habits.
I climbed the road less quickly than i did when i walked down.
I had passed the square and the bar with my head down, i
didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone. The wind had
somewhat diminished his vehemence, but it kept getting cold
as if we were in February instead of in the middle of summer. I
clutched the bag of bread in the chest, in the naive hope that it
could warm me up.
I hated that place; i could not wait to leave. The climb became
steeper; walking down the road didn’t seem so difficult. I was
forced against my will to slow down. I would have taken much
longer to get back to my grandfather's house and this thought
irritated me. I was going to increase the pace, once again,
reaching the top with difficulty, when something caught my
attention. While going down, earlier, i had not stopped to
notice all the details except for the bow with a shield carved on
the top. In that moment, instead, i stopped and stared some
posters on a crumbling wall.
Obituaries: the name of my grandfather soared on top of all the
9. ACHILLE PAGLIARI
Then the date and place of the funeral. I went further down
with the eyes, there was another one saying:
Her husband, daughter, sister
and the Tiepolesi all give the sad news.
May he rest in peace now, because on earth he has not
Those words filled me with sadness and at the same time made
me cringe. Angela Renzetti, I was familiar with that name.
Then i remembered it was the same on the woman's apron at
the emporium; singular coincidence. Or maybe not.
I shivered again. But i had no time to reflect on that fact
because a sudden roar made me jump and turn.
What looked like a bike was going up the hill. I continued to
walk, afraid, while the deafening noise was getting closer.
Without any doubt a motorcycle was approaching, increasing
the speed. In fact for a car would have been impossible to go
back up there because of the narrow street, but for smaller
vehicles maybe that was not so difficult. The violent noise of
the engine filled the air, making me almost my eardrums burst,
i was getting used to all that silence. The bike darted to the side
almost hitting my arm and for a moment i thought i had really
been invested. I was forced to throw myself to the side and
stop. The wind ruffled my hair again, preventing me from
seeing who was riding the roaring beast. I cursed softly and i it
10. would have been really gentle and polite if the motorcyclist had
stopped to apologize. And of course he did not.
He continued to run up as if nothing had happened, as if he
didn’t see me. Disappeared and the deafening roar was now far.
I tried to calm the dominating anger down; those people were
really rude: they didn’t greet, they were into the business of my
family and recklessly tried to run me over!
It was just too much. That evening i was supposed to go back
in the city. My parents were in charge to solve the affairs of the
grandfather, not me! I would not have stayed any longer in that
Puffing angry, but firmly convinced to return to resume my
suitcase (that i did not unpacked yet) and leave, i walked on
quickly ignoring the pain i felt on my legs. When finally i
arrived at the destination, i was completely breathless,
breathing with difficulty and for a moment i felt faint. I
stumbled into a hole but i kept the balance. I recovered only
when i noticed that in front of my grandpa’s house, leaning on
the door, the bike that nearly invested me was parked.
Damage and insult.
I wasn’t motorcycles expert actually and the only thing i could
remember was the color, a bright and glistening red, with thin
white streaks that looked almost like cat’s scratch.
The tires, so huge, could have break my arms in no time. That
idea sent me into a rage. Without even thinking about what i
was doing, i wandered the bike and looked at the bells names
assuming so that one had to belong to the owner of the
motorcycle. There were two bells. To avoid mistakes i pushed
them both, regardless of the names. I had to be really mad.
Luckily for me no one answered me.
I was going to push te bell once again, but i changed my mind.
Trying to go back to myself, i sighed and went back home. As
soon as i stepped into the living room i watched myself to talk
11. about what happened not to alarm my father, but i’ve stated
that i was going to go back home, in Rome. Me and my mother
ended up to argue, when i told her. We discussed heatedly for
half an hour and at the end i was forced to give up not to
unleash another hysterical crisis. I would have stayed with
them in that boring and inhospitable place for an indefinite
time. Then, when i began to believe that i was going to die of
boredom, my father was able to unhinge the door of the
cupboard. And what i found inside radically changed my life.
-That was her! How dare she ringed at our door?- a slender and
tall blonde girl snapped, pretending.
From behind the glass of the window Emma looked back into
his grandfather’s house.
-I have almost invested her with my motorcycle! – her brother
answered, with an unexpressive low voice.
-Really?- a woman said while entering the room at that
moment. –Did you want to smash her into her own blood?
Everything would have been so wasted then!-
The young man tiredly smiled.
-I thought you wanted her dead, mom!-
The blond girl turned suddenly towards her brother who was
sitting on his bed, his hand on his belly and his eyes looking on
the floor. She thought he was getting old, but she didn’t say
anything about it. So without adding anything to the discussion
she moved herself to leave the room.
First she glanced at her mother, a woman who took care of her
own appearance in a maniacal way and who was used to
change hair color every two weeks, and now she was going
through the platinum blonde period.
The woman was left alone with his son, took a step toward
him, but she remained at a safe distance. Who had seen her at
that time would have said that she was almost afraid.
12. -That's the direct descendant of Martha Vasselli!- She hissed
crossing her arms over her chest. -Have you forgotten what she
did to your grandfather?-
The young man shook his head and sighed weakly.
-No- he answered.
-You don’t understand many things, Christian. That's ... - She
pointed over the glass of the window, the house where Emma
was at that time, arguing with her mother.
-We need that girl! We need her blood! The same blood of the
witch, her grandmother! "
"Emma ..." whispered the young motorcyclist, deliberately
ignoring the rambling words of the mother.
That name was immediately familiar.