"To err is human; to forgive, divine." - Alexander Pope
The phone kept ringing like it had every morning and evening for the past 13 days. Then it finally went to voicemail.
"Hello my love! It's Giovanni, again. Today's Sunday, the beginning of a new week, and my feelings for you haven't changed. I'm sorry for hurting you. Please find it in your heart to forgive me. I love you."
Click! A voice spoke inaudibly over the line.
Frantically, he put the phone back to his ear and half-shouted,
"Hello?! Antonella?! Are you there?!."
"Antonella isn't her!" a stern, feminine voice replied from the phone.
"Who is this?"
"It doesn't matter who I am.", the woman replied. "
"Well, it does to me! I'm her fiancé! Who are you?", an infuriated Giovanni retorted.
"Why do you want to know? Do you want to bed me too?"
Giovanni felt an indignant rage pushing him to respond to his latest critic, but he was left dumbfounded by the mysterious lady's words. He interrupted the momentary quietness with a sigh.
"How can you still refer to yourself as her fiancé, after you cheated on her with that bimbo from Napoli?"
Giovanni remained silent.
"I'm Antonella's friend, I'm house-sitting for her. I know everything - all the lies you told her. I even read the nasty text messages and emails you sent your whore. I bet you thought you could keep it a secret forever, huh? You men think that women become idiots when we fall in love with you? You guys are the foolish ones! You are..."
"Where is Antonella?", Giovanni interrupted again., "You said you're house-sitting for her. Why would she need a house-sitter? Where did she go?"
To this, the mystery woman replied:
"She has been admitted at the Ospedale di Santo Spirito. Antonella had an anxiety attack last night."
Click! The dial tone beeped long.
Giovanni had already bolted out of the house, and was en route to the hospital.
Somehow, he managed to beat the Sunday-Mass inspired traffic jam in Rome. Upon arrival at the hospital, Giovanni was informed that Antonella had not eaten for about 8 days! A duration of time in which she had soaked herself in alcohol and tears.
"Her body is bound to crash." the nurse-on-duty said.
As Giovanni approached the weak but awoke Antonella, his heart sank into his belly. He cringed and stopped in his tracks as their eyes met. Antonella stoically looked away towards the table beside her bed. She tried to reach for the cup of water on the table but she was too weak to do it. Giovanni rushed to her aid and placed the cup of water in her hands. Antonella summoned every joule of energy in her failing body and splashed the water into Giovanni's face.
The nurse quickly rushed to Giovanni and escorted him out of the room. Giovanni looked into Antonella's eyes on his way out. Her eyes were like the eyes of a dragon - ablaze with a fiery rage that couldn't be quenched. Outside the room, the nurse offered Giovanni a towel to dry himself and some words of wisdom.
"Look, Mr. Giacoletti, I don't know why you did it. All I know is that you're not the first to do it, neither will you be the last. The truth is, more than 50% of the men in Italy have cheated, are cheating, or are about to cheat on the women in their lives. Most of these women know what their partners are up to but they pretend as if there's nothing going on. Then all of a sudden, one day, they decide to reveal what they know in, literally, crazy ways. We see it here all the time. Most of these women think that by doing this, their men will feel sorry for hurting them and magically change into better men for them. Unfortunately for both the hurt women and their cheating partners, this never works out. You know why?"
Giovanni looked at the nurse ignorantly.
"Because all the tears of all the women in the world cannot wash away the filthy nature of a man who cannot control his libido. Only that man can decide to change himself."
Giovanni pondered on the nurse's words as he walked to his car. He knew that he would never see Antonella again. Only this time, he had decided it for himself.
Sit with me by this fire.