The reflection of the lights danced around the swirling waters of Venice. Nightfall fell upon the floating city, the markets, water taxis, and ferries retired for the evening.
A gentle breeze extinguished a lantern, that was the last moment Martina saw. Her key barely locked the door of their home when she felt a sharp object plunge into her neck. Raf had promised Martina a night filled with romance and whimsy: a gondola ride, a candlelit dinner, and a declaration of love on the Rialto Bridge. It was their fourth wedding anniversary and he still planned to achieve one of those things.
Martina fell into his hands, her purse falling to the cobblestone street. Raf propped her up against himself and began to walk her towards the canal. The boat he had placed there earlier was still docked. Briefly surveying the area, Raf made sure no one was wandering the street. He grabbed the rope, tied her hands together, and pushed her into the water. He fastened the other end of the rope to the vessel. As he was finalizing the knot, he heard footsteps approaching.
A couple, laughing and grinning, held hands along the sidewalk. Their eyes met, paranoia replaced his confidence. He wanted to believe the couple was unaware of his actions, but his suspicions grew. Raf stood up and spoke, “I love to see happy couples! Wanna ride?” Two thoughts crossed the couple’s minds: it was their first trip to Italy, would they truly decline a romantic ride? Second, no one is around at this time of night, isn’t it too late for a gondola ride? The latter thought fleeted. As the couple paused to make their decision, Raf could see Martina’s head starting to float to the surface. “We’ll do it!” Smiling, the “gondolier” used an oar to force his wife back under the water. The couple boarded.
“American?” The couple eagerly nodded.”We’re from Boston.” Passing under an overpass, Raf steered toward a dark, narrow waterway. “Should we be here?” The whisper floated up to Raf’s ears, he did not plan for this. Sweat poured from his palm and beads formed on his brow. “Sir-”
Raf struck the woman with his oar.
Raf stumbled back as he was awakened from his fantasy. He looked at his shaking hands, every detail was vivid. When he blinked, he could see flashes of the events that transpired. Standing in the middle of the bakery, he still was unable to discern what was real and what was imagined. “Mr. Rafael, sir, are you okay? It is your anniversary, you should be smiling! Here is your cake, sir.”