Tiny Tuscan Tale is a monthly flash fiction contest run by Florence Writers. Submissions are open to all — local and international writers — and the winner will be published each month on The Sigh Press. The prompt for May 2018 will be on Florence Writers from the 1st May and you will also see information on how to enter there.
April 2018’s winner is The Funeral Feast by Lucy Meekley.
Lucy Meekley lives in Pisa. She is originally from the UK, but feels much more at home in Italy. She studied English Literature at university and is now attempting to write a novel of her own.
The Funeral Feast
by Lucy Meekley.
The petals grew heavy under the torrential rain as Andrea surveyed the heap of flowers at his father’s grave. He had been a Chef and Restaurateur: a de facto celebrity in their region. The crowd at the funeral was larger than when the mayor of the town had died, and was made to look even fuller by the great dishes of food each guest carried as a tribute.
The only meal Andrea had ever shared with his father was breakfast. Sitting across from him every morning, Andrea felt his silent irritation at every sound and movement his family made. He would wince at his wife’s inelegant coffee pouring and recoil at his infant son’s messy eating habits.
Sometimes, if his mother had to work, Andrea would have to accompany his father to the restaurant. He peeped over the table top as his father greeted the men and women with dramatic kisses, and lifted little children onto his shoulders, making them shriek with laughter. This made Andrea dizzy with jealousy. He could not believe that the stony, severe figure in whose company he lived could transform into this loving giant of a man.
At the graveside with the flowers, the words of one member of the congregation were ringing in Andrea’s ears. An elderly woman, while handing him a platter of sardines, had remarked “I’ve been eating at your Dad’s place for fifteen years. He told me you were an incredible violinist – that you’d go to music school. Do you still play?”
Andrea had looked down, away from her earnest face and into the sentient sardine crowd.
His father had only seen him play once. Sometimes a band would perform at the restaurant in the evenings, but once they had cancelled unexpectedly. It was agreed that Andrea, then 14, would play a few pieces to appease the disappointed diners.
From a small wooden stage in the corner, he played his sweetest pieces, barely registering the exhaustion in his fingers as he watched his music float among the happy diners. Every time he tried to leave the stage they would cry “More!” But as he played, constantly watching in the periphery of his vision, he saw with despair that his father did not once even glance in his direction.
Andrea weighed this incident against the words of the woman. When his father was alive, it had been easier to leave things unsaid. But now the millions of possibilities of meaning contained in this unsaidness played out like a terrible, infinite pantomime, full of guesses and assumptions that could never be clarified.
Disturbed from his thoughts by the pummeling of rain on the taut skin of a passing umbrella, he turned to leave. The food from the guests had been loaded into the car – pasta squashing cakes squashing fish in the crowded back seat – and was giving off a terrible odour in the muggy storm air. Nauseous, he climbed in, and drove the rotting food out of the cemetery.