The red apple
There was one apple, that was the nicest one out of all the hundreds of other apples. Nando gave a furtive look at the basket full of perfumed apples within reach, just on his right side. How much time had passed since he ate a tasty, perfumed red apple? He stopped just some seconds, then he decided: that apple would be his. He had a rapid look around, the farmer was enough far from him. That was the right occasion. He seized the apple and run away like he never did in his life. Fortunately, the farmer didn’t realize that one apple was lacking in his basket. Nando was save.
It was a sunny Sunday of the Italian spring. The temperature was pleasant, the air scented. The first trees were just coming into flowers, the shy daisies had just made their first appearance. It was a good day. At that time, the protagonist of our story was living at his aunt’s together with his mother, who had just obtained a job as tailor in a handmade clothes workshop, not far from Salerno. Ten years old, bright, with brown hair, Nando had always had to manage his life. When his father died during the second World War, he was just a nice baby and his mother went and lived with her old parents till they’d died. She worked hard to grant the basic necessities and Nando gave her a hand in the everyday works, at home. But he had one dream: to become a pilot, just like his father. He imagined many times to fly above the clouds like an acrobat, cross the ocean and overlook the cities from the heights! But, by the moment, he had just to go to school and, of course, to play with Lena.
Lena was a sort of muse for him, his inspiration, and he was going to share that wonderful apple with her. They usually spent long time together. They were attending at the same school, they were living not far from each other, they were used to play together in the afternoon and to talk for long time. Nando had enjoyed himself many times inventing new stories: adventures, fights, heroes. And very often, Lena listened to him carefully, with wide open eyes. In that occasion, he usually gave himself airs like he were already grown-up, like he were already an expert man.
“Lena! Lena!” – he was shouting while running. A nice 9 years old girl, who was feeding some hens in a little fence, stopped, turned on her right side and smiled. It seemed to Nando that the sun became brighter than before. – “Look what a wonderful apple, Lena!”- Now she was openly laughing. A panting Nando reached her, the red apple in his right hand. -“You must be crazy, you are out of breathe!”-. He smiled. -“This is for you. I took it from Don Michele’s basket”-. He winkled at her. She looked at him with her green eyes. There was a naughty light in her glance.- “Thanks”- she said quietly giving a kiss on his cheek. He felt his heart beating fast. She put the bag with the fodder on the grass, took Nando by his hand and guided him thought a courtyard till a drinking fountain. -“Wait a moment”-. The courtyard was large, sunny. There was a stone built wall which, once, had been more taller than then. It was evident that a part of it had collapsed. The boy jumped on it easily while a freighted sparrow flew away. In the meantime, Lena was running to an ancient but still well kept country house where she lived with her parents and a couple of brothers. A red tile roof with a chimney top covered a dismissed first floor, while wood shutters decorated with embroidered curtains testified the presence of the inhabitants. There was a majestic cherry tree at the left side of the house that seemed to support it, or maybe, to caress it. A cured little garden with some herbs, vegetables, and a small olive tree completed this picturesque portrait. The girl was back after few minutes taking a glass and a red-and-white checked napkin. She filled the glass with some fresh water and held it out to Nando, who emptied it in a flash. She looked at him seriously. -“Don’t do it anymore. The next time you could be in trouble”- Lena was a wise girl. -“Don’t worry, I’m enough smart to manage everything by myself” . He smiled. As soon as the boy finished the glass of water, he went and washed the apple – “Let’s run till the big lime tree”- he said. Glass and napkin were forgotten on the wall. They started running through a field that turned in a slope very soon and the run turned into a walk. A pleasant walk. They spent all the time talking and kidding, in a few words, enjoying themselves. Both of them were still in that stage of life where everything could be wonderful and possible, even if, in a such transition period, the poverty was widespread because of the past war. Seven years passed since the Second World War finished, life was not easy and the children grew up fast. Nando and Lena had something to eat, a house and they were attending at school. They were lucky.
Twenty minutes later, they reached their favorite refuge, a lime tree on the top of a hill. It was a beautiful place to sit and look at the sea. The blue, never-ending sea. They seated, as usual, in the shade of the tree. Nando gave the apple to Lena and said: “When I’ll be big, I’ll marry you”- She looked at him, blushing. A fresh breeze was coming from the sea. They could smell even the perfume of the grass. Lena took the hand of Nando, without saying anything. She bit the red apple and then passed it to the boy. Nando gave a look to the little girl, then he looked at the apple. He bit it, tasting its sweetness and aroma. He looked at the sea. The last fishing boats were coming back to a small harbor. He fixed the small boats, then he looked at the sun, already high in the sky. He decided. He’d do something special in his life, he was sure of it. He bit the apple again. Lena looked at him and smiled. It was a good day.
Few minutes later, a female voice was calling their name. Lena’s mother was looking for them. Nando stood up and held out his hand to the girl – “Stand up Lena. It’s time to go.”