by G.C. Nichols
Gioia Vita, at thirty-four, is not living the joyous life her cultural name might suggest. Haunted by an abusive past and tormented by the harsh illustrations of a cynical world she struggles to bury her secrets and find serenity in her life. Plagued by a glitch in her vision, she perceives colors and mystical imagery surrounding people that warn her of their intrinsic nature. With a fear of old world superstitions implanted into her from an early age, Gioia finds herself believing in these enchantments. Especially now, that she is seeing these… colors.
The desire for adventure in her sheltered life prevails when an acquaintance invites her back into the subculture of her rebellious youth. Her vision helps her navigate this tumultuous world few get to experience, the world of one-percenters. An enclave of brothers, bearing colors that reject normal society. She unexpectedly finds the warm colors of family, friends and a new love. Braden Davies restores passion in her heart, but can an outlaw from a chaotic underground culture heal her wounds? First, they must conquer the manipulative adversary that haunts them, unearth long buried family secrets, and learn that sometimes a curse can really be a gift.
from Chapter Sixteen: Resolution
The sun emitted particularly balmy rays that seeped into my exposed skin and warmed me throughout. Like Mom’s chicken soup on a cold day, it flowed through my body to my soul and healed me. The wind cooled my face, knotted my long flowing hair, and created pockets of force between my limbs as it raced against us. We were in flight for the two-hour ride, and my soul appreciated some much needed freedom. Even though my sunglasses kept the bright sun out of my eyes, Braden’s brilliant metallic fire captivated me.
We snuck in small rides every day the fall weather permitted, but this particular Indian summer day was an unexpected gift received along the Merritt Parkway. The almost eighty degree temperature was truly out of the ordinary for the end of October. We were going to an ally club’s Halloween party that evening and decided to extend the trip to northern Connecticut.
There were few times in my life I could remember being this happy. Waking up to Braden’s golden sun almost every morning for the past few weeks surely made this one of them. I felt safe with him, not only because of his gleaming rapture that guaranteed he was pure but also because I could sense it in everything he did. His touch was always gentle, and he never failed to watch over me. In these past few weeks, I grew to know him well and love him entirely.
I was still frightened and questioning everything. What had I done to deserve him in my life? Had I endured enough hardship to finally find a decent man? Our passion was rising to daring heights, and I wanted nothing more than to become one with him, but he always held back, as if making love could risk our bond. Was it only a matter of time before the devil would find me again and take Braden away?
The gypsies continued to invade my dreams and fear of their evil nature consumed me. Luckily, I managed to hide the nightly turmoil from Braden. My brain struggled to comprehend the most recent nightmare. I found myself wandering back to last night’s vision.
“Mom, can we open the presents now? Please!” I begged my mother.
She looked lovingly into my eyes and smiled. “Not yet, Gioia. We have to take care of something very important first.”
I watched as my mother hung bundles of red peppers around the room and wondered what could be more critical than opening presents on Christmas Eve. Why was she decorating now? The Christmas tree lit up the otherwise dark room, and the large nativity set beneath it glowed shimmering white light.
My aunt poured water into a large, ornate ceramic bowl and then waited patiently, holding a small pitcher of greenish oil over it.
“Is Zia Francesca making something special tonight?” I asked, my juvenile mind always hoping for the next treat. Spending Christmas in Italy meant I would be spoiled with gifts and sweets typically unimaginable. It was rare we spent the holidays in Europe and my aunts would cater to my every wish.
“Yes, but probably not what you’re thinking of,” my mother answered, chuckling.
“What do you mean?” My voice turned to a full on whine as I grew impatient.
“Tonight is a holy night and we’re going to utilize the exceptional power we’re offered to say a prayer over you so no evil can ever hurt you. It’s a special gift that Zia Francesca wants to offer you,” my mother explained.
“Ti voglio protegere dal malocchio,” my aunt told me in her native language. I only understood some of the words and looked to my mother for clarification.
“Zia Francesca said she wants to protect you from the evil eye.”
A sudden chill crawled up my spine and I shivered, almost falling off the high stool I sat on. Terror treaded wildly over my skin. Immature thoughts clouded my eight-year old brain allowing my mother’s words to send me into utter panic. Evil? What did I need protection from?
My mother nodded to my aunt as she made her way across the room to stand near us. Zia Francesca slowly drizzled the thick, green oil into the bowl of water.
I counted nine drops carefully placed in the shape of a cross. We all watched quietly as the small, liquid circles spun away from one another, slow at first, then gaining speed until the outline of an eye appeared.
“It’s true. She is cursed,” my mother whispered, tears forming in her eyes.
“What, mom? What’s the matter? What do you mean?” I begged.
“Gioia, pay attention! Just do as I and Zia Francesca do.” My mother commanded, avoiding my wide eyes and panicked tone. She made the sign of the cross in front of me and exclaimed, “Padre, Figlio, Spirito Santo.”
“Dammi la tua mano,” Zia Francesca commanded me to give her my hands. She also began gesturing the sign of the cross over my pale skin.
I could see the outline of the gypsy in my peripheral vision. She stood in the window just beyond the Christmas tree watching us. I refused to make eye contact. My body sat frozen, and terrified from the mysterious ritual my mother and aunt were performing. I would obey my mother until this nightmare ended.
“Father, this prayer is being said for Gioia. I pray it works in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” My mother spoke the words quietly, closing her eyes and lifting her head up toward heaven.
She continued to chant as a gust of wind swept across the tiled floor. It wrapped around me and seeped into my pores forcing tears of panic as I shut my eyes in horror.
“Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirt, as it was in the beginning is now and forever shall be,” my mother concluded and grabbed my right hand. Zia Francesca already clutched my left in a firm hold.
The warmth of their skin brought on a calm sensation that flowed throughout me. I finally found the courage to face the gruesome hag staring at me through the window. Cavernous wrinkles weighed on the corners of her eyes turning them into slits of darkness. Her voluminous lips curled downward into a scowl only meant to curse. The multiple strands of colorful beads encircling her neck appeared to choke her. The sight of her was hideous and I found myself hissing the word, “Zincara.”
My mother and Zia Francesca jerked their heads toward the window. The gypsies’ outline dissipated into a puff of amethyst smoke, and she was gone.
The bike slowed as we approached our destination, waking me out of my memory. I shook my head trying to free my brain from its’ unnerved state. Realizing my dreams did nothing but bring on paranoia, I decided to chase out the crazy thoughts. Braden’s gentle soul gave me hope to believe in righteousness again, and being with him was the most blissful place in the world. Even if an evil gypsy or the devil came, I would fight. A surge of adrenaline ran through me as I realized that, in the end, no one could keep me away from this love.
G.C. Nichols is a Creative Director by day, a graduate of Parsons School of Design, and writer by night. Brought up by parents possessing a strong respect for the arts she was afforded the freedom to pursue and explore her artistic abilities in New York City. Developing interests in writing, fashion, fine art and music led a youthful nature of rebellion to emerge within her.
Placed on a motorcycle for the first time at a very young age paved the way to a passion for riding, and into the intriguing world of motorcycle clubs. The fearless nature and free-thinking ways of this underground culture felt like a natural place for an artist with curiosities to call home.
Growing up as a first-generation Italian American offered G.C. the opportunity to learn about the mystical realm of gypsies and curses, or as she likes to refer to it, Italian witchcraft. Spending summers in Southern Italy allowed her to interact with these mysterious characters first hand, their fiery spirit embedded in her mind forever.
Other than getting lost in the imaginary worlds her mind creates, G.C. enjoys riding, hunting, and fishing, with her husband, family and friends. She is happiest on the wooded acres of serenity they call home in upstate New York, surrounded by a wild array of entertaining pets.