"The next few hours are a blur. We sit, and we talk. About life, about love, everything. At various intervals, Barano jots something down in a notebook.
“My first story, well, I was a little boy, obsessed with cowboys, so my first story was a cowboy story. I must've been eight or nine. But I wrote a story about this masked avenger, riding the plains on a stallion, righting wrongs. I may have been influenced by the Lone Ranger.”
“I was different, my first story...well, see I took a creative writing class in high school, I needed an english elective and this girl I was into was taking it. So I take the class and the very first day, we have to write a short story. I've never done this before, I've got nothing, so I just start writing what is happening. You know “Nick is stuck in class...” etc. I ended up writing a story about how I was writing a story ad nausem.”
Barano starts laughing, a hungry laugh, lifting his head up to the sky.
“Yeah. I got a C+ on that one.”
“So how'd it end up with the girl?”
“We dated for a while, a few years.”
“It's her, isn't it?
“The girl, the one you always write about. She pops up in everything you write.”
“Yeah, yeah I guess she does.”
“Nicholas, you never get over love, but you do have to accept when it's over.”
He looks at me, his glasses outlining his eyes.
“Yeah, I know, Professor. It's just...I don't know if it should've ended.”
“If you still love her, do whatever it takes.”
“I mean, yeah, you can say that, but who's to say this is even love? You said it yourself, young men don't know what love is.”
“I met my wife thirty years ago, when I lived in Europe for a spell. She was breathtaking, long brown hair, caramel eyes. And the way she looked in a dress...she broke necks. I met her through a friend, and we went on dates, and eventually I was able to call her my girlfriend. We took a weekend trip to Italy one time, exploring the vineyards in the countryside. It was a nice trip, the perfect kind for new couples to go on. One afternoon, while we were walking around one of the vineyards, it started pouring raining. So we run up to this gazebo, but of course we're soaked by time we get there. We laugh at this, at our dumb luck, when I look at her, and she just looks...I couldn't help myself, I went right to her, and I kissed her. I knew at that moment I loved her, and always would. We stayed under that gazebo as it rained, just her and I, and it was wonderful. We eventually got married, went through all the pains husbands and wives go through, and then she died. Cancer, five years ago. A year after her death, I returned to Italy, and drove around the countryside, lost in my thoughts. Out of nowhere, I see it:that gazebo, from that night. It looked like it hadn't changed a bit. I get out of my car, and walk onto it, the wood creaked beneath my feet but this was it, it was the exact same gazebo. I close my eyes, and I tell you Nicholas, I was there, on that gazebo, kissing her. It'd been years and years but I could still...I could still taste the rain on her lips."