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Evening in the Piazza Navona

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Luciano stood in the Piazza Navona with Francesco by his side. It was a tourist spot, and he usually avoided it, but it was winter now so it wasn't so crowded. And he couldn't help loving the place.

Francesco pointed at one of the fountains. "It's pretty," he said, his voice still slightly childish though he had grown so much in the past two years.

"It's by Bernini," said Luciano, though he knew Francesco didn't care, at least not yet.

"You came here before?" Francesco asked.

"I came here on my first date with your grandmother," Luciano replied. Was he too young to want to know about that? Probably. But Luciano didn't talk enough to him about Anna. Not that anyone was going to forget about her.

"What did you do?"

Luciano took a moment to picture the scene. Anna in her yellow dress, with her hair pulled up like an old-fashioned lady. Luciano had been so worried that he wouldn't impress her.

That had been summer, and the Piazza Navona had looked very different, but he could still recall everything -- the way she walked, the way she laughed though he did not really know how to make a woman laugh. All Luciano could think was that he was far from the handsomest man in the Piazza and yet he had this beautiful woman on his arm.

"We just walked," he answered Francesco.

"And then you married her?"

Luciano smiled. "A while later."

He hadn't been foolish enough even at that age to marry a woman because she was beautiful. The thing about Anna was that she hadn't judged him. He wasn't suave or rich but all Anna wanted was someone to talk to, someone to sing her songs to. And he had listened, and spoken his few words, and they had fallen in love. She had teased him sometimes about being so taciturn but she had accepted Luciano as he was. And when she was no longer young and did not attract the stares of other men, Luciano still cherished her.

"How come I never got a new grandmother?"

"Did your mother tell you to ask me that?" asked Luciano, keeping the sharpness out of his voice for Francesco's sake.

The boy shook his head solemnly though Luciano remained suspicious.

"Well, perhaps not everyone wants to be married. Some people are happy on their own."

Luciano believed that, though he knew his daughter did not. And now and then he did wonder what it would be like, to walk through the city hand in hand with a lady again, or to come home to someone.

But for now he had the restaurant, and his friends, and more of Rome to show Francesco. And late at night, he sang Anna's old songs to himself and remembered.