Ore 10,25. On my way into the village I see three shattered bottles of tomato sauce at the side of the road. Perhaps they fell off one of those rattling Apes. The glass shards look dusty, and the sauce looks dried, which suggests the accident occurred perhaps two or three days ago.
I resume my descent toward the village. I imagine what Harold would say if he were with me right now, and I smile.
“When bottles are broken it’s difficult to recognize them as bottles,” he’d point out. “Using a noun modifier such as 'broken' gives us a phrase that necessarily refers to a world in which the objects in question were once indeed bottles. But these have disintegrated, and obviously are bottles no longer.”
“Ah, Harold,” I’d reply. “We all know what is meant by the phrase, don’t we? This is merely intellectual quibbling.”
“Well, then, that leaves you with the philosophical questions.”
“Not what these shards are, but what they mean.”
“Hmmmm. First thing that comes to mind is that something’s about to change, to become transformed.”
“Yes, that fits. Change is the central and immutable fact of life.”
Ore 10,45. Roberto joins Sylvia and me at our table at La Piazzatta. He announces that he has just inherited a 30-metre boat. He intends to refurbish it, and use it to give tourists a view of the island. It will take time for him to learn boat piloting, and to get a license. But meanwhile he has hired a Captain. The tours will begin shortly. He tells us he is both happy and sad. Happy that his life has changed. Sad because navigation and boat handling are skills that take a lifetime to learn. He is, as we all know, an impatient man.
Ore 11,30. Vanessa stops her Ape, emerges from the tiny cabin. She tells me she has important news. By pure accident she’s received confirmation of the story of my Vittoria’s being given up for adoption by Maria Marrella, the famous Italian movie star.
Vanessa explains that for the past week she’s been sewing up mosquito net rectangles to cover the windows of a villa of a friend of hers, Nino, who owns a spa in Casamicciola.
As Vanessa was taking measurements, she just happened to mention that she is the friend of a man in Forio, James Stephens. He’s writing a novel about a girl named Vittoria, who grew up in Buonopane.
“Ah, yes,” Nino said. “I know the adoption story. It’s common knowledge here on the island, but never spoken of, out of respect for Maria Marrella, who comes for the thermal waters every year. Vittoria learned of her biological mother when she was in her 20s. It made her very angry at thus being abandoned.”
I try to conceal my surprise. I thought Vittoria learned of the adoption only recently. Why hadn’t she told me earlier? Why did she keep it a secret, until now?