From the Sky - Part XIII

"Where is she?" Ernesto asked, eyes widening.

"Waiting in my cab."

Ernesto walked to the front door, and turned around to berate the driver: "Idiot! You left her alone?"

"Papa," interrupted Rae. "She's not going to float away."

Ernesto grabbed the taxi driver by the arm and out the door they went, half-trotting toward slowly receding Lake Tarentella. Rae and Sal walked to the window and watched as Papa and the taxi driver helped the woman out of the car. The sisters gasped as one; it was her! They walked toward the bakery, three abreast with the woman in the middle. Papa and the taxi driver held up the edges of her green skirt to keep it dry. Papa carried her shoes. The rain had long since stopped, but there was still a stiff breeze and the woman's white blouse rippled as the breeze played over it. When they neared the door, Rae opened it, stepping outside and following them in, letting the door close behind her.

"Sal!" cried Ernesto. "Coffee for our guest!"

"No," the woman insisted, "I'll only be a moment." She opened her purse and handed the taxi driver several bills. "Please call another taxi for me. I must get back to the hotel."

"But this is too much money!"

"Oh, I insist. You've been so kind."

The taxi driver thanked her and rushed out the door, dashing and splashing across Lake Tarentella toward the cab to radio his dispatcher.

"You are Miss Zia's father, Ernest?"

"Ernesto. But you can call me Ernest, or Ernie, or Bob or Joe or even Frank …call me whatever you like. But what shall I call you?"

"The woman Miss Zia is painting. Where is your brother, Georgio?"

"Ah, Gio! He's away. But you don't need to see him. I am here!"

"I need to see you both. Miss Zia called me earlier today with an invitation to your …what was the word? Picnic?"

"Yes! The picnic! Everyone comes! The whole town is here! You can't miss it!"

"I am considering accepting the invitation."

There was a loud, metallic clatter as Sal dropped something behind the counter.

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