Planting the suggestion for her to bring him the key and then go to bed, forgetting his presence entirely, he let her go. She took the cat inside her small apartment, and returned a few minutes later bearing a small brass key.
“I’ll leave this under your door before I go.”
Standing, he took her hand again. “Thank you, Mrs. Hanson. Time for you to go to sleep.”
She waved absently and walked to her door. He watched her walk inside, before he turned to Beatrice’s apartment, noticing the familiar fragrance that lingered near the entrance. He opened the door and slipped inside, making sure to leave the lights off.
He almost staggered when he entered the small room. Her scent infused the air, and he took a deep breath as his gaze traveled around the living area. There was a small armchair, a plush sofa, and stack of books piled on the coffee table. Following the honeysuckle trail, he lowered himself onto the opposite the end of the sofa where she must have sat.
He sank into the couch, imagining her across from him and lifting her small feet into his lap as she had so many months ago. He lingered only a few minutes before he peeked into the bedroom, smiling when he saw the tall, black boots that stood by the closet doors.
There was an old dressing table in the corner, and he walked to it, taking special note of the pictures tucked into the frame of the mirror.
A postcard from Dublin.
A picture of her grandmother from the previous Christmas.
A blurry shot of Beatrice with a group of girls at what looked like a night club.
A small picture of her sitting on a horse in a damp meadow, the sun glinting off her dark brown hair as she smiled.
In a corner of the mirror, he saw a small phrase written on a worn index card.
Ubi amo, ibi patria—Where I love, there is my homeland.
The man touched the card tucked into the mirror, noting its worn edges and smudged letters. He traced the edges for a moment before he stepped away.
He took the picture of her on the horse and tucked it into his pocket before he walked to her bed and sat on the side where he knew she rested. Hesitating for only a moment, he reached into his coat and withdrew two items. The man looked at the small, leather-bound volume of sonnets in his hand, and gently traced the gold lettering on the front.
I sonetti di Giuliana
Tucking the plane ticket to Santiago under the small book, he placed both on her pillow where she would find them. He looked longingly around the room for a moment, before he stood and walked out the front door, carefully locking it behind him.
He tucked the brass key under Mrs. Hanson’s doormat and walked over to the fountain. Sitting on the bench, he looked around the old courtyard, trying to imagine her laughter echoing off the walls.
The man lingered for a few moments, letting her faint scent swirl around him along with his memories. Then he stood, walked back under the arch, and disappeared into the night.