Today the chilling cold was accompanied by the rain and would not cease. The day wasted in a River View Suite, lethargy in the Borgo San Jacopo Restaurant, drowning in the light-tasting wines of the Fusion Bar rather than the southern bank of the magnificent Arno. The pattering followed and persisted every window passed or looked upon. I saw the sparrow outside at the bar, and only that one time. She was perched on the windowsill outside the bar, where the slogging raindrops tried to beat her down. But she was a distant arrow; rebellious, monstrous, flickering her wings outside and becoming a blur in the downpour as she crossed the Ponte Vecchio and flew towards the Uffizi. All day both of our thirsts were unquenchable, and I wanted to let her in like I had done before, but she was gone and I had not opened the window of opportunity in time. When one of the porters tired to make small-talk by asking if I was all alone in the suite, I gave him a scornful look that made him slouch his shoulders. The Family Suite; that’s what it was called. That’s what he’d said with that killer, two-faced Italian smile.
Then on the Ponte Vecchio the raindrops spiralled and looped around my hair. I was lost going across to find out if it had been the same sparrow from back in those oddly accented streets with impossible pronunciation. The rain filled the blue but greening water of the Arno… the aroma of petrichor, along with its soothing sound made me forget the rain and enter a desolate land of deep sinking silence. To be lost, however briefly, was a liberation from the chains of recognizable roads and the instagrammable walls and sights of old, ancient towns trying desperately to reinvent themselves. Outside the Uffizi I saw, or thought I saw her again. With her little, wet wings outstretched and immediately rising from one of the garden statues — Venus — after seeing me, she moved into a fluid trance and flew away. She pushed the rain away like a tired and departing God. Watching her rise towards the thick, thundering sky, I attempted to capture the rapture of her fixed ascension. Just the day before the sun had been out, shining on the Arno as it does on wonderful women and the men who in vain chase them. Now, once checked into the Family Suite, the sun is gone and there is only the rain. Always the rain.
— An excerpt from a forthcoming novel.