Home > It Was Always You

It Was Always You
Author: Georgie Capron

Chapter One

A thickset Neapolitan blocked her route out of the station. She could smell the stale tobacco on his breath as he wheezed, ‘Ciao bella! You need taxi?’ This was addressed to her cleavage, not her face.

‘Non grazie,’ Libby muttered through gritted teeth. She elbowed her way through the crowds that were lurking around the Stazione Centrale. Her patience with the male half of the Italian population was beginning to wear thin. She had spent the past several hours avoiding the advances of an overweight lothario called Luigi. He had been convinced that she would like nothing more than to tumble straight off the train and into his bed.

Looking ahead with steady determination, she navigated her way through the hustle and bustle in search of a sign for the tram. Libby had studied her Lonely Planet carefully to establish the best route from the train station to the ferry port; only now was she beginning to regret her decision to use local transport rather than the comforts of a taxi. Mentally chiding herself for being pathetic (after all, she was here for an authentic Italian experience, wasn’t she?) she scanned her surroundings, pausing briefly to rest against her bag. She pulled her brown hair off her back and scrunched it up into a ponytail. God it was hot! She felt beads of sweat forming on her neck; her skin was clammy against her T-shirt.

At last Libby laid eyes on the tram stop. It was just a short walk across the piazza. Remembering that she wouldn’t be able to purchase a ticket on board, she found a nearby tabbacheria. ‘Posso avere un biglietto per il tram, per favore?’ she asked. The buxom lady behind the counter nodded briskly and gave her a ticket in return for a couple of euros. She made her way out into the blinding morning sun.

After an extremely squashed journey rumbling through the cobbled streets of Naples with her backpack rammed up against her thighs, Libby disembarked at the port. She bought herself a bottle of water and a ticket for the 11 a.m. ferry to Positano. Choosing a suitably shaded spot in which to sit and pass the time, Libby gulped back the ice-cold liquid gratefully as she took in her surroundings. An assortment of tourists of all shapes and sizes were waiting for boats to shuttle them off to the Amalfi coast and the islands of Capri and Ischia. On the opposite side of the port a group of young travellers lounged around, smoking roll-ups and chatting as they listened to the music that was playing from a set of speakers. A small child toddled about haphazardly, picking up discarded bottle tops and chasing an errant pigeon.

Taking a deep breath, Libby stretched out her legs and kicked off her flip-flops, annoyed that the coral Shellac on her toenails had begun to fade. In the last few weeks her skin had gradually tanned to a deep olive brown as she had made her way south through Italy. What a blissful few weeks it had been. She had started her travels in Verona, before winding her way through the major cities, exploring, practising her Italian and enjoying her new-found freedom. She sifted through her favourite memories of the trip so far: visiting the glass-blowing workshops on the island of Murano, eating gelato while wandering over the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, and soaking up the night life in Rome as she walked the streets looking for hidden trattorias to eat in.

At that moment her phone vibrated in her pocket, interrupting her reverie. It was Jules, her best friend. As Libby swiped to unlock the screen she saw a photograph of a computer screen with a complicated spreadsheet flash up on her WhatsApp. ‘My view. Kill me NOW!’ read the message. Libby chuckled to herself as she snapped a photograph of the sparkling turquoise water lapping against the stone harbour wall to her right and clicked send.

‘Poor you. Come and join me!’ she added. Seconds later another message pinged on to her screen. ‘Lucky cow! I would do anything to be there with you. Can we FaceTime later?’

‘Definitely – should be in Positano by this afternoon so will call this eve xx’

As Libby boarded the ferry that had slowly chugged into the harbour, she couldn’t help but feel smug at the thought of all her friends and family stuck at work back in London. Here she was on a stunning day in the most beautiful country in the world, with three months of freedom stretching out in front of her. A cautionary voice popped into her head, reminding her to make the most of it. Before she knew it, it would all be over. She vowed once again to appreciate every second of the precious time she had left. She would be signing her life over to the world of law once and for all when her training contract began on 1st October. She knew it was about time she grew up and got a serious job at long last.

Determined not to think about that quite yet, Libby watched as the ferry skimmed over the aquamarine water until they finally began to approach the Amalfi coast. She had dreamed of returning for years, having fallen in love with the place in her early twenties. As part of her degree she had spent a year living in Bologna, and in the summer she had travelled along the Amalfi coast with a group of friends, making a brief stop in Positano. As she drank in the spectacular views she felt her spirits lift. The emerald coastline soared up from the sea in undulating curves, creating little coves and hidden valleys. In one of these coves lay Positano, the picturesque village to which Libby was coming closer and closer with every passing second. The pastel-coloured houses that cascaded vertiginously towards the sea slowly came into focus. The golden dome of the church in the centre glinted like a beacon in the sunlight. Bright bursts of fuchsia bougainvillea tumbled decadently over the endless sequence of steps that crisscrossed the village. As the boat pulled into the harbour, Libby felt overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the place. She took a deep breath in, tasting the salty spray from the sea, a huge grin spreading over her face. She knew she had been right to come back here.

Gratefully accepting a proffered hand, Libby stepped on to the jetty. She found her bag amongst the mound of luggage that was piling up to one side of the pontoon and made her way across the beach and up on to the sea front. A selection of restaurants overlooked the beach from which various stone pathways led up in twists and turns to the central piazza. The beach was full of holiday-makers soaking up the sun while jealous waiters looked on, sweating in their aprons and white shirts.

Having made her way to the tiny piazza, Libby turned right, following the pavement to the side of the road for a seemingly endless length of time, reassuring herself that the ordeal was nearly over, she would soon have arrived. On and on she walked, out of breath from the sheer steepness of the incline, stopping occasionally to check the map that she had printed off back in England.

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