Love and danger collide on idyllic Sardinia. Martina has retired from the ballet after a career ending injury. Kane is volunteering at a free medical clinic deep in the island's poverty ravaged interior. They meet, and together they try to resolve her pain, and his. Hers, over the loss of her career, her husband, and her twin girls. His, over the loss of his long-suffering wife. Set in the limestone crags and seaside beaches, they try to come together, but every time they are ready to connect, either nature or the mysterious Fabrizzio interrupt. Come along as Martina and Kane try to discover whether their love can ever truly be.
Martina looked back over her shoulder to savor the valley, the clay tiled roofs in the Sardinian town, and the mountains beyond. Its beauty washed over her, and for one moment she was at peace. Tranquility. Where had it gone? Had it vanished forever on that windswept beach? Or did it simply lay dormant, waiting, for a time like this, for a place like this, and for a man she could love. If she could ever love again.
Martina turned back to the rock, chalked her strong hands, and started up. Her blue gray Nordic eyes explored, discovered, then caressed pockets, edges, and other imperfections in the near perfect limestone. Her hands and feet glided ever upwards in a vertical dance, reminiscent of her days on the stage, filled with grace and power. Sometimes the movements took her back to when her long lost daughters had danced alongside her in their gossamer gowns as Tchaikovsky soared and filled the theater and set souls free. But today the rhythm took her elsewhere, nowhere near those memories, but rather up and up, over the roofs, over the valley, over the limestone cliff to the heights above.
Kane watched her as she ascended. His back against an ancient pine that had been twisted by the wind, his pack lay at his feet. He'd seen her here before, a few days ago, and had returned each day hoping to see her again, thinking this time the spell would be broken, his words would be freed, and he could speak again. Kane climbed too. But not like Martina. He understood her mastery, knew on some level that only a few could do what she did, and maybe none better. That first day, after she'd gone, he'd tried the routes she'd climbed. Impossible to him. Couldn't make the first moves. And she'd climbed them alone, no partner, no rope, no bonds.
At his hotel he'd Googled her, because he thought he'd recognized her. Not as a climber, but as a dancer. A dancer he thought he'd met, or at least seen before. He was almost certain he'd found her, learned who she was. Her face was unique. High Russian cheekbones draped with deep Argentinean skin. But it was those graceful ballet like steps that gave the most important clue, even though her right leg moved differently than her left. Article after article on page after page detailed her long career, her ascension to the Bolshoi, her mastery of the art, her romances with Baryshnikov, and others. Her crippling injury and forced retirement. And then the story ended almost completely just three years earlier. More searching, hours unending, and Kane finally found an article, an obituary, in a Buenos Aries newspaper, and then Kane understood why the pages ended, why she had withdrawn from the spotlight, from the worldwide forum that she had ruled, both on and off the stage.
"La Regina" the articles had called her. But no more. In his emergency room, "the emerge", his refuge, he'd witnessed firsthand the carnage wrought on those left behind, and he had used it remorselessly in his writing, without conscience. The second story, or was it the first, or tenth? They had made him rich, and for a while, not so much famous as notorious. But no more. There had been no words in many years.
He watched her finish the climb, then he stood and walked towards her at a pace he hoped would put him at the base of the cliff at the precise moment that she would arrive back in the horizontal domain. His heart beat faster, his mouth went dry, and he realized he had no idea what to say, or how to say it. He was, quite simply, at a loss for words. He recognized that this was both an ironic and, lately, chronic state.
At the base of the cliff, Martina sat in the early morning sun. Her long blonde hair whisped over her bronzed shoulder by the gentle Mediterranean breeze. She drank and smiled, half closed her eyes. In repose, the little damages melted away, and she was at peace, at rest.
"Bon giorno," Kane said.
She lifted her chin, opened only one eye, and answered softly, "Bon giorno".
Kane pointed at the cliff while he pantomimed climbing.
"This piece is very hard, mas difficile."
"Si," she replied. Her chin dropped, her eye closed in partial dismissal.
"Can I ask you something? To show me something?" Kane asked.
Her chin lifted again, her eye opened again, registering partial, but only partial interest. Kane dropped his pack, removed a rope, and pointed at the climb.
"Can you show me how you did, how you did..." his voice drifted off, perplexed, stymied by the words he did not know. So he turned a hip, extended a leg, placed his hand just so, and rocked his weight towards his hand.
She watched his dance. Drank. Thought. She looked at his deep tan, his thinning hair, his wiry frame and tight forearms. She considered his face, thought she saw something genuine, and no awe. No fawning, no grasping, no desperation for a smile or word, for a moment of her time. Just an older man, looking at a woman, a climber asking another climber for advice on how to move. She drank again.
"Si," she said, surprising herself.
"Grazi", Kane said after the lesson.
He extended his hand to shake hers. She took it. Their calloused fingers and calloused hands clasped firmly, solidly. For a moment their eyes met while their hands remained clasped. And then, surprising herself again, she stepped towards him and kissed the air beside both his cheeks.
"Prego", she answered.
Kane began coiling the rope. Martina also began packing.
"You go?" she asked. She pointed down the trail, down the valley, towards the orange tiled roofs and narrow alleys in the town.
"Si," Kane answered, "to Cala Gognone, not Dorgali."
"Me too," Martina said. "I walk."
"I hitched a ride", Kane said.
"You walk with me?" Martina asked.
"Sure", Kane managed.
"I think you are a good man," Martina said, "and it is too far for a good man to go alone. You come?"
Kane thought about all the days and miles and hallways he'd walked alone these last lonely years of self-imposed exile. The gaping emptiness that was his constant companion threatened for a moment to consume him, to draw him in and sink him in the morass of self-doubt and self-loathing that had been his companion these last years. Then it released him ever so slightly. He breathed deeply, more deeply than he had since, well, since before. It was like that. There was before, and there was now.
"Si," he answered.