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Only three months into their relationship, Jaime and Laird sit knee to knee in a cozy downtown coffee shop with the glow of her laptop highlighting their quixotic faces. Two weeks after clicking and typing credit card numbers, Jaime and Laird sit on the runway, knee to knee. Outside, dark skies prepare the amorous couple for the red-eye flight through Milan, onto Rome. “It looks like the most beautiful place in the world,” looking up at Laird, Jaime asserts through the smile she’s had for the last two months. He responds with a toothless grin.

In “The City of Seven Hills,” there was more rain then they had expected. An umbrella wasn’t the only incidental that was left in the States. Too much wine, too much candidness and too little understanding of each others pasts, made a country that was halfway around the world seem distant and lonely, not romantic and enchanting. Vatican City was done by herself, as was the Colosseum, the Borghese Museum and the Pantheon. The rain was the perfect metaphor for Jaime’s tears, as she dined by herself, with her guidebook in hand. But no one leaves Italy without a little romance, be it with the one you came with or an unfamiliar amante. The scene at the Trevi fountain that last afternoon, was not as she had fantasized about in that cozy downtown coffee shop. As heads were shaking and words that could have been said were not uttered, Jaime knew that when Laird changed his flight, she would never see him again. Maybe they would run into each other a few years later in a pub on the Upper East Side or in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza, but Rome would never be discussed. Only in passing with friends or thought about late at night when each of them lay in their respective beds alone.

After time passed, and Jaime finally secured her own studio apartment and the boxes were packed and the U-haul double parked, she rested that lonely guidebook on her stoop. And she hoped that maybe it would bring the next reader more pleasure then she.

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