Dad brought the real Italian pizza like he promised.
“Non è che falsa American torta,” he said with a wink. He remembered what I said that morning, that I knew Italian. Not that fake American pie. I laughed.
“Non conosco,” I replied. His smile fell just a little. I wouldn’t know.
“That’s enough Italian,” Mom said lightheartedly. “Besides the pizza.”
I ate on the porch. Behind me, on the other side of the house, the sun was setting, and it radiated a red glow. I could almost see the light streaks piercing the dense twilight air. Today was different. There was a different feel about it; a different smell. My parents were different. Over the years I imagined their anxiety over me gradually grew with my age. They probably feared the following year, when I would turn eighteen. Being American, my parents still went by American ways, and so they didn’t consider me an adult until I was eighteen. I would often joke and debate that the Italian age of consent was fourteen, so I already was an adult for the past three years. They would just roll their eyes and state that it was a ridiculous law.
To be honest, I had not felt like an adult for the past three years, and I probably would not feel like it even next year. In my mind, I would not be grown up until I was on my own, and of that I was not certain.
I heard the familiar caw of seagulls passing over the house. As they were swept up on the seaward wind I watched them. Their perfect white wings hung casually in the air, hardly making a beat. It was like they were lounging in the sky. My mind started to drift with them; it lifted up and joined them in their serenity, lying back against the breeze. From what I imagined it was like afternoons on the beach, when the world was absolutely at peace and I felt my absolute best. There must be nothing more peaceful than being a bird. I suppose I could call myself half-bird; it was the human half that made it impossible to find peace.
In response to watching the gulls my wings fluttered temptingly, like they had a mind of their own. But it was not just my wings. Every muscle in my body shivered and tensed. My body was talking to me, and I knew what it was saying. My mind was agreeing indefinitely. As the sun disappeared I left my plate by the chair and stepped off the porch. I found myself approaching the stilled waves. The sea was waving at me, opening its watery arm to me and then beckoning back. I watched it as I walked, and that was forced. I made sure my eyes didn’t wander up. My wings kept obediently bent against my back, and there was no more urging and hinting. A sullenness came over me, as smoothly as the passing over of water. It filled me up inside and hung around for a while as I stood back, not daring to step onto the cold sand. I kept myself firmly planted in the grass. I was very vulnerable at the moment. I blinked my eyes a few times, pretending it was just the spray of saltwater. In truth, I was fighting the itch to glance up into the universe and be lost in its endless stretch. Taking a deep breath, I turned myself about and marched back to the house. The stars were coming out, and it would have been nearly impossible to keep my eyes down then.