Everyone dreams. Only the ambitious realize. Sarah was ambitious. Ever since she was twelve, she’d been preparing for her birthday trip to Italy like a bride prepares for her wedding. Rome, Italy.
That was all what twenty-year-old Sarah thought early in the morning, as she opened her eyes. It was the day she could finally realize her dream. “Buongiorno.” Sarah whispered to herself in content. She was happier that she was leaving for Italy than she was for her birthday.
Nadia though, overslept. She didn’t even get time to change when her sister showed up in front of her sleepy face. Sunglasses, hat, comfortable shoes and a colorful spring dress on, Sarah was ready to go. “Where are you going?” Nadia shuddered. “The sun?” “I’ve spent an entire day picking this outfit, thank you for the compliment.”
She smiled sarcastically, “Oh, and thanks for the birthday wish.” “Who’s after you, morning freak? We still have the whole day.” “Probably the fact that we have a plane to catch?” Sarah replied rhetorically and shook her head at her sister’s forgetfulness. Nadia jumped up, eyes wide open. Sarah threw her some clothes and picked up her camera.
“Hurry!” After saying goodbye to their parents, the girls sped up to the airport. Everything was a blur to Sarah, as she just wanted to make it to Rome. Sarah felt the excitement build up in her stomach when they were handed their passports and tickets back. Her heartbeats grew faster as they made it to the terminal.
They escalated the stairs leading to the rectangular door of the airplane, then found their places and sat. Sarah squeezed her sister’s hand as her stomach twitched. “OMG!” she squealed, “This is it, N.” Nadia just smiled noticing the sparkle in her eyes. The plane took off. Sarah laughed. “OH MY, PEOPLE LOOK LIKE ANTS!” Nadia looked out.
“They do!” She agreed but frowned. From the security’s flag waving, she suspected that something was wrong but couldn’t tell her sister. It was just a thought. Or was it? Before Nadia got a chance to ponder the alternative, it happened. A voice asked all passengers to fasten their belts because the plane was taking an emergency stop.
They apologized for the inconvenience and politely asked everyone to wait for the next plane. Sarah’s mind rushed ‘This couldn’t be happening. Eight years of planning couldn’t just go by the wind. It has to be perfect. It must be.’ “Let’s go, S.” Nadia forced a reassuring smile.
“It’s okay.” Sarah blinked away the tears caught in the back of her eyes, stood up and followed Nadia out. Once in the airport, the truth hit her. The day was fading and they were late. She started crying. After all these years, she just wanted it to be perfect. Nadia sat beside her and barely whispered. “Sarah?” She looked up, expecting the worst.
“The next plane’s at four” Four in the afternoon! Her birthday plan seemed impossible if she’d make it to Rome by the next morning. And there it came, all the struggle of all the years, rushing in waves of sadness that flooded over her in rage. “Fantastic.” She shouted sarcastically, kicking the air and breaking into pieces. “Let’s go home.”
“We can find another way,” Nadia suggested. “Please.” Sarah pleaded, fighting her tears. After a moment of thinking, Nadia checked her phone then grinned. “Come on.” Sarah nodded, not trusting her voice to speak. They were heading out with no hope left and a tear escaped her eye.
Maybe not all ambitious realize their dreams. She walked away, defeated. “Hey,” Nadia turned, “We can still celebrate.” Sarah snorted and followed Nadia out of the airport and onto the city. “Taxi!” Nadia waved and one stopped. The sisters hopped in and with a toothy smile, Nadia said, “To Roma, please.” Sarah raised an eyebrow. The taxi-driver just nodded and drove.
“Well, people don’t look like ants from here. But,” Nadia started, “We are going to Rome. And we aren’t walking there.” Sarah shook her head. “You can’t walk to Rome, N.” “Well not Rome, Italy.” She pointed out the window just as the taxi stopped. “Rome, Tangier.” “There’s actually a Rome here?” Sarah scoffed in disbelief. “Benvenuto, signorina.”
Nadia did her best Italian accent, which dramatically failed and came out Indian. She took her sister’s hand and dragged her into a bakery called “The Italian.” Sarah giggled. What a coincidence! She took out her camera and took pictures of the paintings exposed inside. She took one of her. And one of Nadia’s back. Nadia ordered Italian bread and a box of cheese. “Come on,” Nadia smiled, “there’s a lot to do before sunset.”
The sisters visited a mart looking for fine Italian drinks but ended up buying apple juice. Sarah enjoyed it very much. Especially since they were running and all eyes were on them. They paid for the drinks but came back to buy cups and candles. Each holding a paper-bag, Nadia led the way. “We’re being Italian.” Nadia stopped. “But we forgot something.”
“What?” Sarah asked. Nadia grinned. “RUN! TO THE LEFT.” And they both started to run until their lungs gave out. “You’re insane.” Sarah whined. “I’m genius.” Nadia nodded over to a fountain. “What’s that?” Sarah asked. “You know the fountain in Rome,” Nadia talked fast, barely breathing. “Where people throw coins for luck?” “Trevi!” Sarah nodded. “Well, since we’re technically in Rome.” She put the bags aside, “This must be Trevi.” Sarah grinned, “Do you have a coin?” she asked but didn’t wait for an answer. “I’ll give you some.” Nadia was about to take them when her sister waived her hand away. “Turn your back to the fountain.”
She instructed. Nadia obliged. “Good. Now here,” she put the coin in her hand. “Don’t throw until I take pictures.” And Nadia did. And so did Sarah at her turn to throw the coin. At last, the girls picked up their groceries and were, once again, led by Nadia to God knows where. They walked for so long until Sarah felt like she was walking bare feet. “Are we there yet?” Sarah asked and for the thousandth time, Nadia answered the same way, “Almost.” The sun was beginning to set.
Sarah loved the spring air ruffling her hair and the red-colored clouds in the sky. She stopped and took pictures. Then Nadia pushed her into a building, both welcomed by warm air. They climbed up the stairs. “We’re here.”
Nadia opened the door. Sarah stepped in. The rooftop had an amazing view. Looking down, she could see the city slowly lighting up. Right in front of the building, there was, on top of a café, a set of letters lit in pink which used to glow ‘ROMA’ but with the years the ‘O’ and ‘A’ no longer lit and from afar the word was just ‘RM‘ From where Sarah stood, she could see the whole city. The sky was changing color from orange to pink, purple and dark blue then total darkness. Sarah watched the flickering lights below and up in the stars and moon. And all she could think about was how beautiful it was.
The view from up there made the hectic city and noises vanish into a silent cold darkness. “Let’s eat!” Sarah suggested as goose-bumps rose in her legs. They sat, putting cheese inside bread and pouring each other apple juice. Nadia lit up candles and joked, “Blow out one to make a wish. We still need light.”
There she was, on a chilly spring day, sitting next to her sister, celebrating a birthday in just another Rome.
“Happy birthday!” Nadia whispered to her sister who smiled, admiring the pitch-black sky dotted by glowing stars. “It is perfect.”