"A Wall of Flames" by Carol-Ann Lane (published in Agape Review Magazine Feb. 2023)
The crimson red wall cracked, spluttered, and hissed. Flames leapt and danced with power and beauty, breathing life. Black-grey mist puffed out from the flame’s core.
As my sister and I walked. We stood back from the crowds.
The blazing inferno matched the scorching mid-day sun. The long flowing white cotton dress I wore gave me little relief as it swept along the marble stone path. My new wide rimmed matching white hat flopped over my eyes, but it was the only to keep it from falling off.
A stench of sweat, dried tomatoes and herbs wafted to my nostrils as I squeezed my way through the crowd of onlookers.
“Por favor, signora, signore,” I said. It was my version of Portuguese, Spanish and Italian. I figured someone would understand but the empty looks and half-glares told me to not push my luck.
One woman ahead of me wore a red and black floral handkerchief around her hair. The next one beside her braided her dark black thick hair. Their blouses had puffy sleeves with half frayed on one side. Their skirts, dark in color, and attached to the front was a small red apron, embroidered with flowers. One of the aprons was half-stained with remnants of what looked like food and wine. She gave me another look and nudged the one beside her, half sniggering. I only caught a fragment of what she said “stupido, che ragazza!” The other woman looked over her shoulder at me and shrugged. “Bella, tourista?”