La Forza della Collaborazione

Personaggi
Mimì, Riki, Welan (sirene con dei poteri magici)
Bernie (paguro)
Buck (squalo)
Lewis (tritone, amico di Bernie e delle sirene)

Lewis va dalle sirene e le dice:
– C’è un problema!
– Cosa c’è, Lewis? disse Mimì.
– Buck ha trovato un giocattolo che Bernie aveva perso e adesso stanno litigando! rispose Lewis.
– Andiamo subito Lewis. Grazie per averci avvisato. dissero in coro le sirene.

Le sirene vanno da Bernie.
– Lascia stare Bernie! disse Riki.
Lo squalo rispose: Voi pensate che me ne vada così facilmente?

Welan creò una tromba d’aria sopra lo squalo, Mimì la congelò e Riki fece cadere dei pezzi di ghiaccio bollenti sullo squalo.

Buck se ne andò piagnucolando per il dolore e restituendo il giocattolo a Bernie che ringraziò le sirene.

FINE

Anna Martina Piccinno
Simon Williams
Stabilimento 2 Laghi, Laghi Alimini, Otranto
26 luglio 2018

The last words they would hear

I was reading about the boat full of people looking for a better life that hit the rocks near Porto Bisco when the south wind was flying from the tropics and how people fell into the foaming water as the boat foundered and how a few – very few – people dove from the shore and tried to save their lives. But the part of the interview with one of the rescuers that stays with me is this.

Interviewer: Some of the people you saved – do you know how many it was? Three children and two adults – say you told them you loved them, that you used your breath to tell them you loved them while you were fighting the sea, you told them that you loved them. And they all understood what you were saying because you told them in French, in Italian, in English.

Rescuer: Yes, I shouted to them as I tried to pull them through the water, as I tried to stop them thrashing, as I tried to unzip their coats, as I tried to pull their freezing fingers from my throat. I shouted. I shouted “je t’aime, ti amo, I love you. Je t’aime, ti amo, I love you”. I shouted in their ears if I could get my mouth near enough or I shouted it through the spray in the frozen air. I shouted and I gulped air and I spat and I coughed salt water. Shouted and shouted and shouted. Why? Because I thought they were going to die, they would sink through my fingers and the waves and the foam and sink to the bottom of the sea with the crabs and the eels. I thought I could not save them. I thought they were going to die.

And if you are going to die, what are the words you want to hear as you die? That somebody loves you “je t’aime, ti amo, I love you”. So I shouted so if they slipped to the bottom of the sea with the crabs and the eels then at least the last words that they would hear would be that somebody loved them – not their father or mother or sister or brother but somebody, somebody.

And I was fighting with the waves and fighting with their coats and fighting with their frozen fingers at my throat but my head was elsewhere. My thoughts were clear and above me, not fighting with the waves at all. And I thought – but where are they from? And maybe they speak French and maybe Italian and maybe everyone speaks English so my thoughts made me shout “je t’aime, ti amo, I love you”. And perhaps it could have been better if they were about to die if I shouted “Dieu t’aime, Dio ti ama, God loves you” but I just could not do it because I just did not know, so a person, a person, so “je t’aime, ti amo, I love you”, the last words they would hear.

Good day

He lay on his stomach and rolled the dice at the side of the bed. She rolled her eyes in exasperation.
“It’s going to be a good day, Goldie!”
“Don’t be an idiot, Lee.”
He swung his feet round and sat up on the edge of the bed, poised. He rocked backwards, forwards, backwards again then leaped up and landed on the grubby rug. And the dice. He shouted. She laughed. He swore. She laughed some more.

First published on http://www.paragraphplanet.com 24 November 2017

Ghosts today, saints tomorrow

Joel was parked illegally, running to the bank and back. He needed cash to buy Halloween treats and souvenirs at the market before it closed at midday. The kids would never forgive him if he forgot.

Ghosts today, saints tomorrow, and then the dead.

A truck from out of town missed his car by a finger, throwing up a cloud of dust. Sweat washed into his eyes. He blinked and wiped his face with his forearm. Wearing a waistcoat had been a mistake. The scar between his shoulderblades itched.

‘Hey! Hey, young man!’ As the dust settled he saw her, tall as his ribs, old as his grandmother would have been.

‘Hey! Young man!’ She was pointing at him, her dark eyes bright.
‘Yes auntie, what can I do for you?’
‘The cemetery. When are you going to the cemetery?’

Joel looked around. The sweat on his back trickled cold.

‘I can go to the cemetery now auntie.’ The market would still be open later. She got into the back of the car.

He looked in the mirror but could not see her. ‘It’s hot, isn’t it auntie? Too hot for the season.’ There was no reply but Joel could hear her voice. Perhaps she was praying.

More trucks passed, spitting up gravel. Joel paused, engine running. The sun was hot and damp through the dusty windscreen.

Joel’s phone chirruped. His wife. Don’t forget.

The voice behind him stopped. The silence was louder than the voice had been.

The cemetery was not far if you ignored the No Entry sign and cut through the parking lot. Joel usually went that way when he was heading out of town on the cemetery road, when he was on his own. But today it could have seemed disrespectful.

Ghosts today, saints tomorrow, and then the dead.

He drove slowly through the dust, all windows tightly closed. A cloud in the shape of a fist or a stone covered the sun. There was no air. Joel sweated.

‘I have to say hello to my children.’ Joel started. He had almost forgotten she was there, almost forgotten he was going to the cemetery on the day of the ghosts. He pulled up next to the fountain outside the cemetery gate. Its water was still and green.

‘Your children, auntie?’ They must be as old as his father would have been.

‘I go to see them every day since they left. Every day I say hello.’

‘Hello, auntie? Or goodbye?’ He did not know where the question came from.

‘I shall never say goodbye to them. They are still here. They walk in my heart. Today and tomorrow they are with the saints. And soon I will be with them too.’

Chirrup. Daddy….

He turned the phone over on the seat next to him.

‘Every day since they went away. Every day.’

Joel gripped the steering wheel and more clouds rolled across the sun, heavy, electric. He breathed in. ‘What happened, auntie?’

And she told him. And when she had slowly, unsteadily, got out of the car, he gripped the wheel still tighter and cried. Ghosts today, saints tomorrow, and then the dead.

When he arrived at the market, all the stalls were closed.

The doorbell rings

[The doorbell rings]

Who is it?

Daniele. Come down, I’ve got something for you.

Can’t you come up?

No, come down.

Ok.

[I go downstairs and out of the main door. Daniele is standing there in the midday sun, a cardboard box in his arms. He holds it out to me.]

Here you are. It’s for the anniversary.

Thank you. But you shouldn’t have.

Take it, take it.

[I take the box. It is the size of a shoe box but lighter than a shoe box with shoes in would be.]

What is it?

It’s for you. For the anniversary.

[Daniele starts up his Vespa and rides away. I stand in the midday sun and take the lid off the box. It is not sealed. I look inside.]

[Later, on the telephone.]

Thank you Daniele. What’s his name?

I called him Twenty-five. That’s how many years it is, isn’t it?

Yes, yes, twenty-five. It’s twenty-five.

[I stop talking and look down at the tortoise walking across the floor.]

Hello, Twenty-five. Here’s to us.