Friends Are Family // by Katheryn E. June 2020

Fiona Davis sat in the airport at Venice, waiting for the Wilson family. Fiona was a fourteen-year-old girl with long, wavy, chestnut hair, freckles, and big, dreamy, brown eyes, which stared off into nothingness as she dreamed of her new story. Fiona was a writer.

After her parents tragically died when she was eight, Fiona lived with her grandmother. But, when her grandmother had to be moved to an assisted living home, Fiona was to move in with her aunt and uncle. They were alright, but they were very invested in work and didn’t have time to raise her while their house was being built during the summer. So, that summer Fiona was flown out to her parent’s friend’s family, the Wilsons. The Wilsons were wealthy artists who lived in an apartment in the city of Venice. She had met them once when she was seven and she knew that the couple had three children. The oldest, Charlotte, was fifteen, the second, Daniel, was nine, and the youngest, Etta, was four.

Fiona looked around for the family and spotted them walking towards her. The man in the group said “Hello, Fiona. You remember me as Mr. Wilson, but please call me Henry.”

“Hi Henry,” said Fiona shyly.

“Daniel, why don’t you be a gentleman and get Fiona’s bags for her,” said Henry.

“Alright,” shrugged Daniel.

“Hi, I don’t know if you remember me, but this summer, I’ll be your friend, and someone who can try and make you feel comfortable but I’m obviously failing.” Charlotte burst out.

“No, I know we’ll get along very well,” said Fiona, smiling. “Also, I do remember you.”

“Great!” grinned Charlotte. She had short, curly, red hair, a wide smile and big glasses.

“I know there’s one more,” said Fiona in a sweet voice.

“She’s a little shy,” said Sara, the mother.

Etta came out from behind her mom and waved tentatively.

“Hey, Etta," smiled Fiona, “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Hi, Fiona,” Etta said.

“Now that we’re all introduced, let’s go home”, decided Henry, “Do you have those bags okay Daniel?”

“I may need some help,” said Daniel struggling with the bags.

So, they walked out of the airport with Henry and Daniel carrying her bags, Charlotte and Fiona talking amongst themselves, and Etta and Sara walking behind them.

As they walked through the streets, Fiona tried to take in every detail, but it was hard. Everywhere she turned there was more beautiful architecture. Every bridge she crossed, every shop she passed, every smiling person she waved too, was the most wonderful thing she had ever seen. “I can’t believe you actually live here,” sighed Fiona to Charlotte. “This must be a dream to live in. I forgot Venice was real.”

“It is a dream to live here. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” replied Charlotte.

“This is it,” Henry said, stopping in front of a brick apartment next to a canal. The Wilsons lived on the top floor, so, they climbed the steps and walked in. Inside was a modern style home filled with colorful paintings of Venice. “We sell our paintings like those at a shop across this canal,” Henry told Fiona as she stopped to admire the art.

“They’re amazing,” said Fiona in wonder.

“Well, thank you,” answered Henry.

“Let me show you where you’ll be sleeping,” Charlotte told Fiona. She led her down the hall past two other bedrooms to a bedroom at the far left of the building. “You’ll be sharing with me, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course not,” laughed Fiona. She saw her bags lying at the foot of a twin sized bed next to a window. She hopped on the bed and looked out. “We have a great view of the city from here,” said Fiona, trying to believe what she was seeing. She could see the tops of the buildings, endless amounts of statues, and a number of canals and bridges.

“It never gets old.” smiled Charlotte. “I hope you’ll feel comfortable here.”

“I know I will. You are such a lovely family, the city is amazing, and this bed is really comfortable,” laughed Fiona.

Charlotte laughed too. “Only the best for my family, and their friends.”

Fiona organized her area of the room while chatting and getting to know Charlotte better.

“I have a summer job at a bakery. Do you want to come with me tomorrow?” Charlotte told Fiona.

“That sounds nice. I love baked goods, it’s so pretty outside this week, and it will give me a chance to explore! Of course!,” exclaimed Fiona.

“Great,” said Charlotte, “I can’t wait.”

“Girls, come for dinner,” shouted Daniel. So, they left the room and sat down at the dinner table to enjoy a pizza.

“We decided to let you have something familiar but was readily available in the area,” explained Sara.

“Thank you for the pizza,” Fiona said, “You’re so thoughtful.”

They all dug in and afterwards Henry announced, “Come on kids get your shoes on, we’re going to get gelato.”

“Yay!” The Wilson children yelled in unison.

“I’ve never tried it before, but I’ve been wanting to,” Fiona said.

So, they headed out and went to a gelato shop. It was the most delicious thing Fiona had ever tasted. “Just wait until you try the gelato, marshmallow, chocolate, cupcake special, Charlotte said, “I invented it myself and it’s a hit at the bakery.”

“Sounds amazing,” sighed Fiona.

They spent the evening walking through the city and then after an hour they headed back. They got cozy in Daniel and Etta’s room and Fiona read one of her stories to Etta, Charlotte, and Daniel. Daniel fell asleep before the first chapter was over but Etta, wide-eyed and imaginative soaked in every word.

“Thank you for reading to me, Fiona,” Etta told Fiona sleepily.

“You’re very welcome, Fiona smiled, “Good night Etta.”

Fiona and Charlotte went to their room, said good night to each other and she curled up in her bed. She had enjoyed her day and knew she would enjoy the whole summer.

The next day, after breakfast Charlotte and Fiona headed to the bakery. They stopped next to the canal where several gondolas were docked. “I want you to meet my friend Matteo,” Charlotte told Fiona, “He’s a gondolier, so he can take us to the bakery.”

“Ok, where is he?” asked Fiona.

“Matteo!” Charlotte yelled. A boy about her age hopped out of one of the boats, startling Fiona.

“I’m here, where do you want to go,” Matteo said groggily. He was as tall as Fiona, he had dark hair, blue eyes, and he wore a white t-shirt and a faded but clean pair of jeans.

“Dolci Cupcakes per ti, please,” Charlotte told him.

“Ok, please, instead of pay bring me one of those cupcakes you invented,” Matteo told her.

“Got it,” Charlotte answered,

“This is my friend Fiona by the way.”

“Hi, Matteo, right?” Fiona said.

“Yeah, nice to meet you,” he answered, “Alright, let’s go.” He climbed into the boat and gestured for them to follow. “So, how did you come upon our lovely city, Fiona?” Matteo asked.

“Long story short, I’m an orphan girl who needs a place to stay for the summer while her aunt and uncle prepare for her to stay with them. So, my parents friend’s family seemed like the best choice. So, now I’m here in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and spending time with my friend, Charlotte.” Fiona told him as she climbed haphazardly into the gondola.

“If that’s the short one, I don’t want to hear the long one,” Matteo said, concerned, “Well, I’m glad you get to have a good summer with an even better friend.” He smiled at Charlotte.

“Thanks,” Charlotte said.

They rode along the canal in silence for a while, ducking under too short bridges and looking around at the city. “Here it is, the Dolci Cupcakes per ti,” Matteo said, “The home of the most delicious cupcakes on earth.”

“Ok, let’s go," said Charlotte. They climbed out of the gondola and turned to face a row of shops. One, the bakery, had several round tables with four chairs surrounding them on the patio in front of the shop. It was a pleasant spot to spend the morning. “You guys wait here,” Charlotte ordered, “I’ll get the cupcakes.”

“Thanks,” Fiona said. Fiona and Matteo sat down and chatted nonchalantly until Charlotte got back. When they bit into the delicious morsels and said “Mmm,” in unison, Fiona felt very happy.
She had made two friends in her first full morning here and it filled her with satisfaction. “Ok, can I get a job here too? I want to help make baked goods like these,” Fiona asked Charlotte.

“Sure, we’re short a server and hiring.” Charlotte answered.

“I’ll take it,” Fiona laughed. Fiona got the job and they headed back to the apartment after working for a couple hours.

“See you two later,” Matteo said, “I’ll take you to work tomorrow.”

“Thanks, see you tomorrow,” Fiona said.

Through the summer Fiona spent time with the Wilson family during family game nights, playing with Etta, writing her new story, and spending time exploring Venice with her, now, best friends, Charlotte and Matteo. But, now her departure was only a couple days away. She had grown to love the Wilson family and she wished she could spend more time with them. She didn’t want to leave just as she became accustomed to her life here. It would be hard to say goodbye the next week.

Fiona sat by the side of the canal in the early morning a couple days before she had to fly back to America. She saw a gondola rowing towards her gently. “Hey, Matteo,” Fiona smiled.

“Are you alright Fiona?” Matteo asked, concerned.

“I guess, but I really don’t want to leave,” Fiona said. “I love it here and I don’t even know my aunt and uncle very well. I feel more comfortable here than I ever would with them.”

“Well, I’m sorry to hear that. I wish you could stay too. I never thought I would have so much fun with an American.” He said with a serious look on his face.

“Ha-Ha,” Fiona said sarcastically but feeling a little better.

“Don’t you have friends in America?” Asked Matteo.

“Yeah, but they’re in Virginia, and I’m moving to New York.” Fiona explained glumly.

“Oh, but, I’m sure you’ll make new friends. You’re such a cool person who’s amazing and fun to hang out with.” Matteo said, comforting her.

“Thanks Matteo, you’re such a good friend. Thank you for listening to me pout and be able to give me advice.” Fiona smiled and gave him a hug. They sat there in silence for a while, just thinking until Charlotte called her in for breakfast.

“See you, Fiona.” Matteo said. “See you” Said Fiona.

Half-way through breakfast Fiona heard the family phone. “I’ll get it,” Sara said. After she picked up the phone, she called, “Fiona, it’s for you.”

Fiona answered, “Hello?”

“Hello, Miss Fiona. I am your parent’s lawyer. We have found a missing piece of your parent’s will, and it states that if anything happens to your grandmother you would live with the Wilson family. I’m sorry that we didn’t find this earlier, and I hope you will be happy here.” said the man.

“Thank you for telling me, I will be very happy here,” Fiona said bursting with happiness.

She hung up the phone and in a burst of energy she told the Wilson family, her family. In an instant they were by her side hugging and laughing.

“We’re sisters!” Charlotte cried.

Fiona was finally happy. She was going to stay in Venice with the most wonderful family and be a part of this family forever. “I love you all,” She said, crying happy tears.