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BLUE AND THE HEARTLESS LITTLE GIRL
Illustrations by Andrea Berlinghieri
Translated by: Giada Di Gioia
To my grandmother
The original B.B.
The transparent little girl was calmly floating next to Blue, keeping up with him, following his pace, a little to the right, a little to the left, a little running, a little slowly. The scents were the guide that made them move. A berry, an acorn, a pinecone, a fern. The little forest was full and saturated with appealing perfumes and they were investigating them all. Barks, branches, leaves, mushroom, even fireflies; and in order to follow them, sometimes, the little girl was going through Blue, provoking a shiver that made his back hair stand up. She laughed, and Blue didn’t complain. She was a ghost and he was a boar. The most unlikely couple in the wood. However. For years they have been walking the green and brown paths, tight in the night blue, like they were one only creature, even if only one of them was alive while the other was more like a memory. They met, even if it would be better to say bumped into each other a lot of time before, when she was an entity without a place and he was the boss of the place. She was alone, transparent, and helpless, and he was the typical bully, a bit rude and a bit obtuse who, anyway, did not allow any intrusion in his territory, nor, least of all, in his everyday life. So, when he intercepted her for the first time, he rushed in a hostile and unfriendly run against the presence that he felt as an intruder, but his fury dissolved in a fog bank and Blue stood still, breathing the wood. Grunted. Blew air, grudge, and mud. Then he pulled himself together, he looked around sneaky, masked the awkwardness, and pretended to smell the ground. The
origin of the scent that provoked his disapproval resembled the human one, and this was the reason why he rushed against it but, after all, there was anything human between the trees and the ground, only a tepid steam that was tickling his senses, confusing them. Blue felt disoriented, just like that night when the fear was smelling so much that condensed into reality, and he wasn’t capable of distinguish the threshold of the nightmare. Therefore, he dropped himself to the ground, defeated and shivering, staring doubtful into the darkness and, finally, ducked in the leaves, pushing the snout between his paws. And it was in that very moment that he distinguished her, or maybe it would be better to say heard her, because it was the hearing to reach him before the sight. ‘Are you afraid?’ Silence ‘Me too.’ Still silence. ‘Shouldn’t you be stronger?’ Hostile silence. ‘You’re goofy’ Huff. ‘I got it. You don’t understand me.’ Picking up ears. ‘Oh, did you hear me then?’ Lowering the ears. ‘Don’t be sneaky, I saw you, you know?’ Rolling eyes. And then...
Sbam! The fog he followed was made of soft and thin brown hair, tiny hands and big green eyes that
overflew skin as pale as a cloud. What was before his eyes, basically, was a cotton ball. Like a dandelion that still needs to be spread. A tangle of beauty, a skein of humanity. If the abstract could have been concrete, it would have been her. Blue stood on his feet and, against the numbers, approached her boldly.
He smelled her consistency that was made of air, wind, cold, ice. She was a crystal of compelling features and Blue was immediately impressed with that one detail that disturbed all that candour. In the middle of the little girl’s chest, where the heart is placed, there was a hole instead. A hole as big as a chestnut husk through which air blew, little leaves passed through, or whatever the wind was carrying away. Blue tilted his head, before to the right, then to the left, then again to the right, and the little girl burst out laughing.
‘It’s my heart hole’, she explained to dissolve the confusion in the boar eyes as if saying so, everything would have been clearer. He answered grunting and moved away a few steps but the little girl, in a blow, was still near him, ‘You have something different too, by the way.’
Blue sat patient and curious, letting her speak.
‘You have blue eyes, do you know that?’ He nodded. Of course, he knew.
‘I have never seen a boar with blue eyes before. Can you see it? We are both, you know, special. Moreover, you seem to be the only one who can understand me, the other animals run away as soon as they feel my presence. I think we should really stay together.’
Blue remained silent for a few seconds, delightfully bewildered by that presence and by that little voice, and let a good minute pass by before he answered, which thing she perceived as indecisiveness or
uncertainty. Her voice became a whisper like she was about to tell him a secret.
‘I don’t even know what my name is. Don’t leave me alone. I don’t want to. I don’t like it.’ Blue, who didn’t mean to pull her away, lighten up his eyes and stood up on his paws, charged with responsibilities, and finally spoke.
‘I’ll call you Cotton Ball.’
He didn’t know exactly what he was doing, but the most beautiful smile he had ever seen suggested him that it was certainly the right thing to do; he didn’t exactly get what she was neither, by the way, she was neither part of his world and neither of the other, and he decided to take a risk. Or maybe to surrender?
He would have accepted her.