'Eduardo & Rosa forever'

Short Stories May 15, 2024


I walk with purpose. Head downwards, face sheltering from wind-borne drizzle, I stride towards the ancient stone pedestrian bridge. I am preoccupied; oblivious to other foot-traffic scurrying across slippery cobblestones to seek sanctuary from the weather. Ornate wrought-iron railings loom in the distance as I approach the swirling tributary dancing away to join the larger river downstream.

My previous sessions with Dr Moretti had crystallised possible sources of my angst. Rosa led the cavalcade of events shaping the person I’d become. Although painful to accept his advice, Dr Moretti was possibly correct. Maybe I needed to expunge Rosa from my life to move forward.

“I’m not sensing her love so much. Lately she has been aloof, Doctor. Perhaps Rosa has eyes for someone else,” I had volunteered to Dr Moretti, wincing at the thought of losing her affection.

“But reflect on who Rosa is, Eduardo. She is a figment of your imagination. Rosa is not real. She is not of flesh and blood. You cannot see her,” the psychiatrist had counselled. I’d winced again.

“She has lived with me for a decade Doctor Moretti. You cannot understand what I feel. The sense of support she has extended. At my lowest points, Rosa has reached for my hand and gently lifted me to my feet.”

Dr Moretti had tugged on an earlobe in pensive thought, slowly exhaling a prolonged breath, before inquiring, “Where is Rosa now, Eduardo? Is she sitting here beside you on my couch? Is she running errands? Does she share your housework? Why have I never seen Rosa?”

“You don’t understand Doctor. Rosa is real, but she is… invisible.”

“Hmmm… There are only two possibilities to explore here, Eduardo. Firstly, Rosa is invisible, or, secondly, Rosa exists only in your head. Let’s explore invisibility. There are no recorded examples of invisibility in the tomes of scientific literature. Other than unverified claims of ghosts, we can’t rigorously validate the notion of invisibility. No, Rosa is not invisible,” he had counselled.

I had shaken my head in disagreement before Doctor Moretti continued.

“Eduardo, we must rule out invisibility as an option. That leaves us with only one other possibility. Rosa exists solely in your mind. She is not real, yet it has brought you comfort to believe she is real. I would like to test my hypothesis.”

The Doctor had asked if there was anything concrete which symbolised my relationship with Rosa. A ring, a painting, a book perhaps? He’d suggested removing that object from my life, and monitoring whether my feelings for Rosa dissipated. Reluctantly I’d agreed to his proposal yet clung doggedly to my assertion that Rosa was real, just invisible.

Passing the bell tower and reaching the stone footbridge in increasing drizzle, I strode across its arched footway, counting out panels of wrought-iron. At the tenth, I fumble amongst hundreds of padlocks adorning the lacework of the iron railing. A wall of locked dreams, hopes, futures. I locate my padlock. It bears hallmarks of ageing but the engraving is quite legible… ‘Eduardo & Rosa forever.’ Retrieving a solitary key from my coat pocket, I unlock the padlock and cast it into dancing waters below. I witness its imperceptible splash and disappearance. “Arrivederci, Rosa,” I mutter inaudibly. “You are not imaginary…”

And invisible arms encircle my shoulders, and an unseen head leans into my heaving chest. Gently weeping, Rosa and I embrace in the rain. Grasping hands we clamber onto the railing and, stepping outwards, plunge into the murkiness and solitude below. A darkness which conceals a broken promise - an unclasped padlock engraved ‘Eduardo & Rosa forever.’



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