Bianca sighed. Of course the ice cream was Neopolitan. What else would the Mafia in Napoli feed their captives.
“Apri, piccolo,” said her captor. He meant to open her mouth, the diminutive intended to belittle her, reinforce her helplessness.
Bianca reminded herself she should be glad. Crossing the Mafia seldom ended well, but they hadn’t killed her, hadn’t even harmed her, hadn’t threatened her family. Just kidnapped her, held her in this farmhouse, fed her a mushy tasteless meal and offered her ice cream for pudding.
She opened her mouth. After that main course any taste was welcome, and the gelato did look nice.
It was later she realised her mistake. Maybe it wasn’t the ice cream though, it could’ve been the mush that preceded it. Whatever it was, just minutes after she’d been told “Dormi bene, bambino” and left in the dark, trapped in this oversized crib with her wrists tied to the bars, that her stomach had told her she’d eaten something bad.
That was two hours ago, and nobody had responded to her muffled groans, her calls for help, more recently her tears. Her insides now felt entirely liquid and she knew she couldn’t hold it in any longer.
Lucky in a way that they’d diapered her. Bianca worried that it maybe wasn’t luck; this might be their plan. Her future.
The diaper swelled. Internal release didn’t relieve mental anguish, but did enough for Bianca to finally fall asleep.
She was woken by a large woman, cheery and motherly, the sort that was all smiles until she beat you senseless for something inconsequential. Bianca shivered and complied as she was helped from the crib, gingerly walked to the mat on the floor, lay there and let the woman remove her diaper.
The smell was horrific, being wiped clean humiliating. Worse was what followed: a clean diaper, securely fastened. Her t-shirt and bra stripped off her, Bianca found a short dress being pulled over her head, lace and ribbons making it look infantile, matching her diaper.
As the two men that had captured her came into the room Bianca knew resistance was pointless, let them lift her to her feet, take her through to the kitchen to be strapped back into the highchair. A bowl of oatmeal, more on her face than inside her, and a bottle of milk she didn’t want but kept being offered.
A new man walked in, his boots muddy from the lane outside. He looked with approval at Bianca, walked up to the woman and gave her a hug, asked her something that Bianca couldn’t hear.
“È bellissima,” was the reply. Bianca knew it was her being described as gorgeous, and started to cry.
This made the woman frown with concern, the man seeing her expression change and looking around to find out why. He saw Bianca, tears running silently down her cheeks, walked over and held one of her hands.
Pointing at the woman he tickled Bianca’s tummy and said, “Sorridi per mamma.” Only Bianca could see the stern look on his face that let her know this a strict instruction, and his tickling hand gripped her skin tightly enough for her to know he would pinch, make it hurt if she didn’t comply.
She complied, forced a smile onto her face. “Mamma?” she asked, and got a happy smile in return from the pair of them.
“Si,” said the man, “benvenuto a casa Bianca.”
Bianca looked at him in shock. Welcome home? She sighed, smiled at the woman she now knew she relied on for comfort, let the man tickle her again. Never cross the Mafia…