Authors: Amy Rachiele
Copyright © 2012
Cover Art and Formatting by
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publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any
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without the prior written permission of the publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or
are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any
resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons,
living or deceased, is entirely coincidental.
Table of Contents
Medigan (meh-di-ghan): a seriously non-Italian
“Megan!” I heard my mother calling me with
her slight Irish lilt. My mother and father wanted to fit in when
we came to New Jersey after Gram died. I’m not really sure why we
had to move to America but leaving my beautiful Irish cottage
behind was hard. Erin was two and I was five when we moved here.
Erin and I have authentic semi-Jersey accents. That would have made
us fit in to this
Italian neighborhood except for our
flaming red hair and milk pale skin. We stick out like firecrackers
exploding on a hot July night.
“Megan! I’m not calling you again!” My mother
I jumped down the stairs in the hall and
scamper pass my sister sitting on the couch watching T.V. in the
“Mom wants you.” Erin says never taking her
eyes off the screen.
“Yeah thanks, I heard.” I quip sarcastically.
As I crossed the room, I brushed my hand across the strings of my
harp that sits patiently waiting for me every day. The only time I
feel complete and content is when I am seated securely behind
In the kitchen, my mother is standing by the
sink peeling potatoes. I know-cliché.
“I need you to go to the store for more
potatoes and eggs. The O’Neill’s are coming for dinner now, and I
don’t have enough for all of us.”
“Okay.” The O’Neill’s were another Irish
family that we spend time with. My Mother met Mrs. O’Neill at a
church meeting. They don’t live in our neighborhood. They live a
town over. They have two sons. Connor is Erin’s age fourteen. Troy
is a year older than me eighteen. He graduated last year. Me?-one
more year, thank God. Knowing it’s almost over is enough to keep me
going. Notre Dame here I come. I received an early acceptance.
I grab Erin’s old red wagon. I always take it
to the store when I go for my Mom. I know it’s stupid but I really
don’t want to carry the groceries four blocks. I have been trying
to convince my Dad to get a second car, but he keeps saying no. My
mother doesn’t drive and I’ll be headed to college. He says it’s
not necessary. They did let me get my license though.
I pull the old wagon out of the tiny garage
onto the city sidewalk. There is no grassy buffer between our house
and the sidewalk. It’s house, sidewalk, busy street. That’s how
close it is. There’s no breathing room. Not like Ireland. When I
was young, my mother and I used to have to walk a half mile to
reach a road. I remember being small and holding her hand as we
strolled through lush green groves. Then we came here to cement,
exhaust fumes, and a culture we’ll never fit into.
Block one down. I pass the pastry shops
making Tiramisu and Cannolis-then the bakeries making breads,
pizza, and rolls. It’s a hot August day. All this stuff would smell
great if it wasn’t for the smog and bus exhaust. The wheels of the
wagon rumble along the lines of cracked cement.
The thumping of drums echoes thickly through
the air as a shiny black Cadillac with darkly tinted windows bowls
up the street. The car slows down and paces me. My heart races
nervously and I keep walking-faster.
The tinted window slides down to reveal a guy
I recognize from school. He has a dark complexion like most people
around here. He’s handsome in a mischievous way. I can’t remember
his name, Quedo, Zito, Lito….
“Hey, Red? Looking mighty fine pulling your
little red wagon. How about I let you
else? I got what you need right in this car.”
There must be more people in the car because
I can hear them snickering. I ignore him and keep walking.
“What’s the matter, baby?” voice suggestive.
“Come on, I’ll give you a
.” His words are laced with
“Leave her alone Vito!” A female voice calls
from the backseat. “Andiamo!”
Vito (oh yeah, that’s his name) laughs
wickedly and hits the gas. They spin away and I made it to block
three. Sweat is gathering on my forehead from the August heat and
the run in with the senior hoodlums.
The grocery store is packed as usual. A lot
of Italians in the neighborhood like to get their groceries fresh,
almost every day.
Concetta the cashier, totals my food.
“That’ll be $9.50 Megan.” I hand her ten dollars. “You getting
ready for school to start?” She asks bagging my food. She always
has a pleasant smile.
“Yes, thanks.” I hook my hands in the bags
and head outside. Waiting patiently is the little red wagon. I am
always surprised that it is still there when I come out of the
store. I am sure one of these days someone is going to pilfer the
rusty thing or throw it in the dumpster because they think it’s
I sip on the ice cold cola I bought at the
register. It feels good on my dry throat. I flip the handle of the
wagon in to my hand and start back up the street. Block four
Block three coming up. I always play this
little game with myself. It makes the uncomfortable, lonely walk
tolerable. Bakeries at Block two. They’re in my sight-a few more
buildings. Lost in my thoughts, I don’t notice until I am steps
I feel my chest tighten. N
shit, shit. Antonio Delisi Jr. Shit!
If you are going to avoid anyone in this
town, avoid Antonio Delisi, Jr., the Mob boss’s son. I’ve managed
to basically stay clear of him and his friends over the many years
we’ve lived here. These moments don’t happen often but when they do
they’re frightening. My mom says, ‘he’s got the devil living in
him.’ She may be right because seeing him right now; he looks
nothing like an angel.
I’m just going to keep walking. Maybe
he’ll ignore me.
My hand tightens on the wagon handle, slipping
with sweat. I drop my soda bottle to my side, my steps planted with
Antonio confidently pushes off from the
cherry red Camaro he’s leaning against and flicks the butt of the
cigarette he was smoking into the street. He steps right in front
of me glaring down at me. He’s blocking my path.
I look down to the ground, face heating. He
makes my heart race because he is the most beautiful “devil” I’ve
ever seen. I try to step around him. He blocks me. I timidly glance
up into his face that’s a foot higher than mine. Our eyes lock and
there is an unidentifiable emotion on his face that passes quickly.
His dark brown hair hangs slightly into his dark brown eyes. His
mouth is pulled up in a half grin that says either ‘don’t fuck with
me’ or “I’m hot and I know it.’ Goosebumps surface on my skin
despite the scorching heat. His low riding jeans and white
sleeveless t-shirt hug his swarthy muscled body.
He probably learned at the age of three how
to kill someone with his pinky finger. A couple weeks after we came
to Jersey, my Mom took me to the playground near the elementary
school. She wanted me to play with the kids in the neighborhood.
You know- get to know them.
I was in the sand box letting the rough sand
filter through my fingers. A little boy came over and sat in it
too. It was Antonio. His skin was darkly tanned and smooth. Antonio
made up a game in the sand-bakery. We made sand pies with buckets
and pretended to make different kinds. Antonio was a cute kid. He
even pretended like he was eating some of them. He kept saying,
“mangia, mangia.” I remember laughing at the funny word.
My Mom had Erin on her lap and was sitting on
a bench talking to a pretty lady who had on lots of makeup. It was
weird. One minute my mom was talking-the next she was at the sand
box grabbing my arm. She was trying to lift me out. I started
crying that I didn’t want to leave. She dragged me down the street
with Erin on her hip towards home. I never even said good-bye to
Five year old Antonio was cute; eighteen year
old Antonio is chilling- beautifully scary, dazzlingly
intimidating, heart-throbbingly gorgeous, and standing in my
A sharp voice pulls me from my trance-like
the vortex of Antonio’s striking eyes. “Tonio!” An old
grandmotherly woman leans out the window of the house next to us.
I’ve seen this woman before. We talk sometimes when she’s sitting
alone on her steps. She starts gesturing with her arms and yelling
in a Sicilian accent. “Tonio! Leave ta medigan alone! Come,
A wolfish grin crosses his face and he climbs
the steps two at a time. He looks back at me before heading into
the house. I let out the breath I didn’t even realize I was holding
and pull the red wagon home.
Mangia (mahn-ja): to eat, and eat, and eat more
(even if you’re not hungry)
I walk into Nonna’s apartment still thinking
about her-Megan. I’ll admit I saw her coming. So I dragged out my
cigarette a little longer than necessary. How could I not see her
coming with that shock of beautiful red hair on her head? Ever
since her family moved in, I was always silently checking my
surroundings for her-at school, the movies, even the streets.
Meatballs, tomatoes, and basil mix into an
aroma that wafts through from the kitchen. Even when Nonna isn’t
cooking you can still smell the ghost of Italian food in the air
and on the plastic covered furniture.
“Tonio!” she yells again, “You leave ta girl
alone, gabish!” Nonna scolds with a ladle, waving it at my
“What Nonna? I wasn’t doing anything.”
Nonna’s orthopedic shoes shift on the linoleum floor.
She harrumphs, “I knew boys like you. I was
young too ya know! I saw yous lookin’ at her like she was
strawberry gelato! You’re your father’s son!”
“Nonna, please.” I shake my head.
“You gotta prove your worth!” You could
always count on one thing with Nonna, yelling. It’s how she talks.
When she’s quiet-you’re in trouble. “Now set the table!”
Nonna loaded me up with dishes of food to
take home to my Ma. I place it all on the floor of the backseat of
my car for the two-mile drive home. I kiss her good-bye like the
My phone beeps with a text message from
Vito : Where r u?
Tonio: Jus leavin Nonna’s
Vito: Meet me @ the dock
Tonio: Can’t. gotta meet Pop
Mom’s beamer is there when I get home. I
carry the food into the house.
“Ma! Nonna’s got food for you.” I call out
headed over to the fridge to put the dishes in. While my head is
still in the fridge, Mom comes around the corner.
“Hey, Sweetie,” She leans into kiss me.
“Hi, Ma,” I flip the door closed and pop a
can of soda. Caramel colored soda sprays all over the front of my
white shirt. “Ugh, fanabola!”
“Hey! Don’t swear.” My Mom yells and clips me
with her hand on the back of my head. Her slap echoes in my
“Sorry.” I mumble as I strip my shirt off. “I
gotta change before I go see Dad.”
I climb the stairs to my room. My room hasn’t
changed much over the years. I’ve added some posters and pictures
of friends but that’s it. I rummage through my drawer to find a
clean t-shirt. Wow, I really need to do laundry. I fish to the
bottom of the drawer and feel a piece of paper. A picture-an
elementary school class picture, 5
grade. This must
have been stuck at the back of my drawer for years. It makes me
laugh. I scan up and down the rows of pictures. Vito, Ronnie,
Alessandra, Louie-there in the third row-Megan O’Neill. Her
freckled face and wild red hair made my heart slam even all those
years ago. I had drawn a heart around her little tiny picture. What
a stunad I was!