Ciao bellaMature

The Italians soon settled in, they each had their own jobs to do and knew now when to do them. Ifan still cursed and cussed at them, swearing in welsh, even though they couldn’t understand they got his meaning.

I would make a light lunch for them, everyday. And they would sit around the old bleached kitchen table, taking animatedly in Italian.

At first Ifan would sit at the head of the table, with his Rifle at his side. You should never trust though ‘Itia’s’, as he would call them. Something he never normally did, was eat lunch in the house, preferring to get his jobs done and working all day long.

On several occasions he had stood up and shouted, raising his fists in the air for them to be quiet. Showing who was boss, as they dared not look up from our own bacon and eggs that laid before them.

But now as late summer moved on, and there was the harvest to get in, he came less and less to the table, and we all relaxed a little.

I learnt there names, Mateo, Marco and Enrico. All from the isle of Sicily. The ball at the foot, Seren had explained. I hadn’t had much schooling so I couldn’t really comment.

But Seren flirted tremendously with all three of them, not really caring who took her fancy. The were foreign and mysterious, and when Ifan wasn’t there they were charming with it in the broken English that they had picked up from the camp and the few words that Seren had taught them.

They made a fuss of Ianto, and Marco was teaching him how to count in Italian. Who would clap his hands together when ever they came into view.

I had seen Mateo look at me under his long dark eyelashes, I would look over and he would look away or sometimes catch my eye smiling, holding my eye till I felt myself blush and turn away. I had never seen a man so dark before, with eyes so green and a smile that was kind. I found it harder and harder to be in the room with them, so I kept myself busy, and never sat down to lunch or dinner with them.

Mateo would watch as Ifan would throw his weight around, pushing me around the kitchen, turning his hands up at my cooking, or throwing the contents at the wall above the fireplace. But not daring to say anything, conscious of the rifle, which I’m sure given the chance he would use without a second thought.

One afternoon after lunch, I was clearing away. Ifan had been his particular burley self, bullying me and showing his power over a women in the kitchen. For the first time Ifan had touched me, roughly pulling my head back by my long dark hair, hurting me, and then laughing as he left the house through the back door.

Shouting his orders for the workers to follow him.

Mateo waited and stood back, until the other’s were nearly out of the door, and then he touched my arm, as I stood by the stone sink, rinsing the plates with cold water.


‘Che, Bella?’ He asked ‘Why’ his English so stretched, making the it sound like way instead of why?

I looked down at his dark hand on my arm, not wanting to meet his eyes, not saying anything, but liking the touch, the caring that it meant.

And then he touched my face, brushed a hair that was not there, back from my eyes and said in quietly spoken Italian.

‘ Bellissime donne con saddness nei suoi occhi’ and gave me a smile and headed out of the door. Leaving me standing there, wondering what he had just said.


The harvest was ready and had to be brought in, so the worked all day long, not taking a break to come up from food. So every morning I would make fresh bread, and prepare them lunches so I could take them down to the fields for them to eat. Fresh bread and our own Bacon, sometimes some cheese, or a little of our bacon Ham. Salty, but edible, washed down with some goats milk, or milky warm tea.

The Italians brought there own coffee, strong and black, as one day they left their pot on the kitchen table and I tasted the sharp bitter treacle. But with a splashing of milk it wasn’t that bad, gave me a kick.

The land girls were sometimes working with them, flirting as they went. So I had even more food to prepare, and I would walk down to the field with Ianto strapped to my back, although heavey he was getting, it was fare easier and quicker than letting him walk.

Mateo would see me coming down the hill, basket in arm and Ianto on my back.

‘Cio, Bella’ he would call. A smile on his face. The others barley looking up from their frantic flirting and playing around.

He would take down Ianto much to his delight and let him walk the short way further. Then take the basket out of my hands, smiling.

Luckily Ifan was usually far off further down the field, as he was a bit of a loner, and he couldn’t bare the brassiness of the English girls.

I would sit down, and take out a little parcel for each, and set out the bottles and the drum of warm milky tea.

Ianto would run around with a piece of bread in his hand, his little short legs, often falling from beneath him as the ground wasn’t so even with rocks in places here and there.

Then I would take some down to Ifan, not caring to stop long. He would grunt, with no thank you. Or sometimes tell me off for getting too friendly with the land girls. To which I would mutter under my breath ‘ Caci tew’.

And then make my way back to the other’s, to collect the bottles and anything left over.

Sometimes I would sit and watch them return to work, Ianto wanting to help, or run after them as they went. Seren would kiss his cheek and hand him back to me, but he would just cry out loud with his hands outstretched and his little short legs kicking to be put down.

Mateo would laugh, and come chasing him back, as a game of chase was being played.

They made me laugh.

It was hard to believe that there was a war on high in these hills, away from the smog, the hustle of he big city’s. The alarm calls and warning, posters to recruit on every corner. I had sneaked one afternoon, quietly and quickly in to the picture house in town. Five minutes was all I could stay for, as Ianto wouldn’t keep quiet.

But I had seen enough to know a different way of life outside these welsh borders.

The End

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