MINCHIATE: Nine of Cups

"Nonna's Minestrone" is a flash fiction story based on MINCHIATE: Nine of Cups

Nonna’s Minestrone

Marcella gazed at the antique tureen sitting in the middle of the empty china cabinet and a little tear snaked down her cheek. She wiped it away with the tips of her fingers as she reminisced the wonderful sunny afternoons spent in this old house. The family would all sit around the long table, chatting and laughing, while waiting for Nonna to enter the dining room carrying that big tureen and setting it down on its place of honor in the middle of the table. The aroma of Nonna’s minestrone would float over the party as warm sunlight streamed through the windows, enveloping the dining room and its inhabitants in its soft and golden glow.

Marcella closed her eyes and fancied she still smelled the minestrone so many years later. The memory of its delicious flavor flowing like warm silk down her throat fluttered her tastebuds, and, for an instant, she heard the gay chatter and felt the warmth of her long-gone relatives beside her. A sob choked the memory, and Marcella opened her eyes. The tureen, with its red and gold ornamented lid sat on its desolate shelf, the handle of its white ladle resting on the rim, the body hidden inside the bowl. Nonna had packed all her family’s china and brought it on the ship while escaping the war, but the tureen was all that had survived the long and arduous journey.

Gone were the family gatherings and gone were the days of comfort and warmth. Marcella opened the glass doors and held the tureen in her arms. Tears streamed down her cheeks and onto its beloved lid. 

“I’m so sorry, Nonna,” she repeated as sobs shook her shoulders, “but I need to sell it. I need the money, I have nothing to eat.”

Marcella’s knees buckled, and she kneeled down on the dusty floor, setting the tureen in front of her. Through her tears, she saw the rundown house with its scant and shabby furniture; pieces of her childhood she had sold off one by one in tiny bites to her soul. Of value, only the tureen remained, and she caressed it as an image of Nonna bloomed in her mind.

“This tureen,” Nonna’s voice whispered in her ear, “fed us through fascism and through war. It kept our bellies full and warm during hardship, as it will keep yours full and warm now.”

Marcella’s sobs quieted as a golden peace flowed through her body and entered her heart. The warm and comforting aroma of Nonna’s minestrone filled the room, and the soft sound of a rolling boil came from the tureen. She opened the lid and steam wafted out of Nonna’s minestrone, simmering in the bowl.


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