The cub scout’s head almost reach the waist of the old woman, but he took hold of her arm as they stood waiting for the light to change. At his touch, she gave him a malicious stare and hugged her pocketbook to her chest with gnarled hands. She was my mother although sometimes I didn’t recognize her as the pretty young woman in the family photos, the same way I didn’t recognize myself when I looked in the mirror, now that I was nearly fifty and fighting grey hair and wrinkled craw.
The light changed and we moved into the crosswalk monitoring mother’s halting steps while the Vespas fought and heaved alongside us anticipating the seconds until they’d surge and race to their destinations. We were in the middle of the cobbled street, the one overlooking the Arno when mother stumbled, knocking the cub scout to the ground, clinging to me and cutting my arms with her unmanicured claws. The little boy clambered up and ran to the sidewalk, leaving us bloody and disheveled, me kneeling and mother sitting on her feeble hips. The light changed and all I remember is the gutteral roar of the Vespas’ engines.