The town San Orizani, Italy, is secluded from the rest of the world. San Orizani in a word: quaint. Green hills surround half the town, a huge crystal blue lake cutting off the other half. Small cobblestone streets join together in a circle at the middle of the community. The streets are surrounded by houses and shops straight out of a renaissance painting. The only lavish part of the village is the magnificent white fountain in the center of the town square. Coins litter the bottom as water flies out of the figurine. The entire town looks like it belongs in a picture book. The only connection to the rest of civilization is a small train station, located about 3 miles from the town. Five small buses serve as transportation to the train station from 6am to 6pm.
We walk into San Orizani, marveling at the picturesque scenery. I brush my dark hair out of my eyes, snapping pictures. A whine interrupts my train of thought. Looking down, I see a small girl with light skin and dark hair. Her lips are pulled into a pout. My sister, May.
“I’m huuuunnnnngggrrrryyyy,” she groans. We walk towards a small restaurant and get some pizza. As we walk around, slices dripping with cheese and olives in hand, we notice hoards of people heading toward the buses.
“Summer?” May calls out to me.“Why is everyone leaving?”
I shrug at her. “I don’t know. Let’s keep looking around and we can take the last bus. We have another hour.” I replied. She answered with a shrug and ran forward, noticing a huge white statue. She closed her eyes and flicked a coin into the fountain.
Laughing, I asked, “What did you wish for?”
She looked at me, “I wished we could stay in Italy forever.” I smiled at her, but I frowned inside. Our flight back to the United States was leaving at 1:30am tomorrow morning. We couldn’t miss it. This was our first trip after our parents died in a car crash last year. They had spent ages planning this family trip to Italy. They were so excited to show us the country where they had spent their honeymoon. So we decided to go without them, and now I was in charge. If we missed our flight home, we wouldn’t be able to buy new tickets.
I was determined to make the most of our time left in Italy. The hour flew by as we ran around the town, laughing and taking pictures.
Tired, we made our way to the buses parked neatly on the side of the road. I was surprised to see that nobody seemed to be inside the buses. I knocked on the glass door, but it was obvious that no one was around. To make matters worse, May was hungry again.
We hurried around the town for 15 minutes looking for anyone who could help us, noting that all the restaurants and shops seemed to be closed. Panicking, I called every taxi company, but none of them would help us. We finally came upon a tiny pastry shop and walked inside. An elderly lady seemed surprised to see us.
“Ti sei person?” she inquired. I had no idea what she meant. I pulled out my phone, looking for the Italian to English translation.
“Lei parla inglese? Do you speak English?” I asked in my best Italian. The smile from the woman’s face indicated that I had butchered the words.
“Sí. Yes.” She said in a heavily accented voice.
I rushed to order pastries, biting into pure heaven as I paid as quickly as I could. Biting into the sweet croissant, I sighed. A bad pastry in Italy is better than the best pastry anywhere else.
“Thanks. What’s your name?” I asked the lady.
“You call me Signora Bianchi,” she said. “Are you missed the buses?” She didn’t know English very well, but she knew more English than I did of Italian, so I tried to understand her.
“Yes, we missed the last bus and it’s really important that we get back to Florence,” my voice cracked on the “really.” I tried to hide my panic in front of May, who was munching away gleefully. Signora Bianchi nodded thoughtfully, slipping another streusel onto my plate. She shot me a smile.
“You call taxi?” she asked. I sighed and nodded. I had called everyone, and no one was picking up or willing to make the hour-long drive to San Orizani for a few measly euros. Signora Bianchi looked at us. “You try waiting by bus station? Someone will come, I’m sure. Or you ring someone on your cellular?” she suggested. I had called everyone I knew, but I decided to take the woman’s advice and head to the bus station.
“How do you know there will be someone at the bus station?” I wondered aloud.
Signora Bianchi looked at me curiously, handing May an apple danish. Her eyebrows bunched together and she tilted her head as if she didn’t understand me. I tried asking the same question in Italian.
“Come fai a sapere che ci sarà qualcuno lì?”
Signora Bianchi laughed loudly, her head moving up and down. She still didn’t understand my question. I sighed, and showed her my phone. She read the translation.
“Ohh. Capisco. Yes, someone is there, my grandson, Antonio. He helps you,” she assured. I breathed a sigh of relief. We had a chance to get home. I dragged May from the table, who was on her third croissant. I quickly turned back to try and pay Signora Bianchi.
“No, you find home. I do not need euros for this,” she smiled and handed May another pastry, which May accepted with relish. I tried insisting that Signora Bianchi accept the money.
“No. Go to bus station. Presto! Quick!” She pushed me toward the door. Grabbing May’s hand, I raced toward the bus station. A man wearing a leather jacket and a biker helmet stood there, looking at his phone.
“Lei parla Inglese?” I asked him. I hoped he could speak English.
“Do you speak Italian?” he asked with a surprisingly soft accent.
“Um, no, but are you Antonio?” I replied.
“Anth-onio,” he said, correcting my pronunciation of his name. I didn’t know what it was, but there was something about his responses that got me riled up.
“Please listen. We missed the last bus to the train station and our flight leaves from Florence, and we have to get to Florence-”
“No, Firenze. If you are in Italia pronounce the names of places correctly.”
“Could you give us a ride to the train station, please?” I begged, choosing to ignore his rude comments. He looked at me with dark brown eyes and smiled.
“No,” he said flatly. I was astounded. I opened my mouth to shout at the man. Just then, May started sobbing, and both of us looked at her. Something about a sobbing girl must have suddenly scared him.
“Signora Bianchi said you would help us, but you’re just a big meanie,” May cried. Antonio sighed.
“If Signora Bianchi sent you, then yes, I will help you.” I threw my arms up in exasperation. If May had just cried as soon as she saw him, we could have left ten minutes ago.
“Yes, thank you. Let’s go!” I shouted. Antonio laughed, and we settled down on his black motorcycle. We flew across the road and got to the train station in less than ten minutes.
Breathlessly, I thanked Antonio, and we rushed into the station. I glanced at the huge clock in the center of the train station. I gulped anxiously, realizing our train was leaving in five minutes. With a sweaty palm, I shoved our tickets to the lady at the counter. She seemed to be moving in slow motion as she stamped our tickets. A scream threatened to erupt out of me. I grabbed the tickets out of her hands, and May and I raced to the platform as if we were being chased. Just as the train started to move, I felt something fly out of my pocket. Our passports! I flew toward them.
“Summer?” May called softly. I looked behind me. May’s wish at the fountain had come true. The train, our way home, had left.
We were trapped.