Bombs as

Carulina was over fifteen but looked thirteen; and with her little black braids twisted and pinned over her temples, she suggested a cat, or a fox with its ears pricked up. About a year before, in Naples, when they spent the nights in the caves to escape the bombings, this Carulina, then aged fourteen minus one month, had been made pregnant, they didn't know by whom. She herself, in fact, would answer the insistent interrogations of her tribe by swearing that if somebody had done it, she hadn't noticed anything. However, there was no relying on her word, because her head was made in such a way that she believed blindly in all fantasies and inventions, not only other people's but also her own.

For example, in the Easter season, her relatives at home had told her, teasing, that the Americans, as Easter presents, instead of the usual destructive and incendiary bombs, would drop on Naples some egg bombs, recognizable even up in the sky because of their gaudy colors. Naturally, these would be harmless projectiles which, exploding on the ground, would release surprises: sausages, for example, chocolate, sweets, and so on.

From that moment on, the convinced Carulina was alert, always running to the window at the hum of every plane, peering into the sky toward the hoped-for apparition. Finally, on Holy Saturday morning, when she went out to do the shopping, she returned looking as if she had been touched by a miracle; and she offered her grandmother a sweet pastry, saying that just when she was going by Porta Capuana, from a Flying Fortress an egg bomb had fallen, the shape of a huge Easter egg, all covered with tinfoil, painted with the designs of the American flag. This bomb had exploded just in front of the Gate without doing any damage.

On the contrary! it had spurted lights and sparks like a beautiful Catherine-wheel; and out of it stepped the movie star Janet Gaynor, in a evening dress, with a jewel on her bosom, and she had promptly started distributing pastries all around. The famous actress had beckoned with her little finger to Carulì in person, handing her the pastry in question, with the words: Take this to your grandma, poor old woman, she doesn't have many Easters left to her in this world.

"Ah? Is that what she said? What language did she speak to you in?'

"What do you mean? Italian. Neapolitan. Of course!"

"And afterward, how did she get back to America? If she hangs around here too long, they'll take her hostage, she'll be a prisoner of war!!"

"Noooo! Nooool" (hotly shaking her head) "What are you talking about? She went right off, five minutes later! She had a kind of balloon tied to her, a parachute, only the opposite, that flies up instead of down. So she got back into the Flying Fortress up there waiting for her, and off she went again."

"Ah, fine. Thanks a lot and good-bye!"

--- From History, A Novel
by Elsa Morante
©2000 Steerforth Press

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