• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 06
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The way a child sees colours, shapes and words

The cloudless sky and the mid-morning sun deliver warmth after the previous night when winds rattled the girl's balcony shutters, mistaking them for gunshots.
The girl echoes her mother's instructions:

There will be four men sitting behind a rock that will look like a colossal tortoise from your boat. Go to them. And deliver this bowl of fruit.

She steps into the boat and holds the bowl, pressing its sides like an accordion. Clouds reappear, the sky turns grey as if to warn her danger is near, and a slight breeze helps her reach the island urging her to paddle faster.

Men dressed in a green she can't name. Their hard hats are like the fruit bowls in grandmother's kitchen. Thin strips of paper snake between sanguinellos, prickly pears, and pomegranate. Her grade six teacher said she reads very well, but the girl can't decipher the hieroglyphics. Her sandals sink into the sand when she stops to replay the moment her grade six teacher was taken away by men dressed in a strange green she can't name.

One man winks. The other has a bushy moustache. Her eyes land on one man's cheeks covered in moon-like craters. The last man keeps his head down, sliding his boots inward, creating miniature sand dunes. The girl thrusts the bowl in their direction. Water crashing against her father's fishing boat breaks the silence. The man with the bushy moustache gives her chewing gum. Her hand closes like a clam but remembering her mother's words, her clammy hand tips the gum that parachutes and lands in a crab's burrow.


The way a child sees colours, shapes and words

The three seas that lay before her display a combination of primaeval beauty. The waters join, live side by side in harmony, and the girl stops paddling, lifts her head to the heavens, and says: why can't we all hold hands and skip in gentle circles of never-ending laughter and joy? Why do I have to deliver bowls of fruit to four strangers? Why can't I play with my friend outside, pulling catkins from the chestnut trees, hiding behind Sicilian carrettinos in a hide-and-go-seek game? Big people's answers drop her at the centre of a vicious circle of whys.

A sea of sparkling blue-green waters turns to red. The waters are grieving for the sunken bodies. Men like her older brother fighting against Italy. Her younger brother fighting for Italy. Stars and Stripes or the Tricolour? Aren't we all siblings? Blood is a river of red that flows in both friend and foe.

The girl's mother stands at the edge of the rock. She carries the bloodshed. Crimson tears colour the sea and create high tides, a gravitational force not even the moon can beat. The mother's golden hoops amplify, transforming into interminable circles of hope. Hope for a warless world. And when peace comes, it stays. Rings will become an oblong, a triangle, square anything but circles, the skin will shed its blood, and turquoise waters will carpet our seas again.