A Story for your son – age 5
[This is to be read to your son, investing your imagination in rendering the words, watching his young, intelligent eyes. When they cloud in failure to understand, it is time to stop, and share meaning with him. Not ‘explain.’ ‘Share.’ He will comprehend more than you expect. It is difficult to portray ‘moral’ to such a young mind. Hopefully, it is easier to capture his imagination and entertain, prompt questions such that any ‘moral’ sneaks up on him. Who knows, Mom, or Dad, you might be a little amused yourself?]
An almost handsome young man went fishing. He caught fish. That often happens, especially to fishermen. This strong young man was a fisherman. He caught fish to earn his living. Some people farm. Some mend leather or repair machinery. Some build houses. This young man was a fisherman. Salvatore was this fisherman’s name. This pescatore, Salvatore, lived in a sleepy little village on a sleepy little island not far from Italy. The island was only a little bigger than Salvatore’s village.
Salvatore was not a really handsome man. He was in fact, simply a normally handsome young man. What set Salvatore apart was that he was cheerful and always, always, always ready to help his island friends. Salvatore had a big heart to match his big strong arms. Salvatore was a very good fisherman. His boat was as tiny as Salvatore’s arms were big. Between his tiny boat and Salvatore’s skill though, it was a rare day Salvatore did not bring a fine catch of fish to market. Some days, when the villagers did not need all of the fish the pescatori harvested, Salvatore and his pescatori friends quickly took their extra fish to the church. The priest used this bounty of fish to feed those who might be in need. Yes, Salvatore’s boat was tiny. Salvatore’s heart was not. None of the pescatori lacked a good heart.
The sea kept Salvatore’s tiny island not too close to and not too far away from the mainland. It was also not too close to or too far from other islands. Very much bigger other islands. And not much bigger, even smaller other islands. All the people on Salvatore’s island thought their island was just the right size and exactly far enough away from the mainland. This was, thought Salvatore, and everyone Salvatore knew, a fine thing.
Salvatore’s friends, he had more than a few you see, called Salvatore ‘Sal.’ Salvatore thought that a comfortable name. He had comfortable names for his friends too. There were Carla, Tony with a ‘y’ and, with an ‘i’ another Toni. There were Bobbilo, Mickey, and a Mikey, and Stephano and Stephanie. There was Ronnie with an ‘ie’ but no Ronny with a ‘y.’ There was a Gia, and a Francie. There were a good many others too.
Salvatore worked hard at being a fisherman. Just like the other pescatori on Sal’s island. In fact, all the people on Sal’s island worked hard. Cheerful cobblers, merry merchants, vivacious vegetable vendors, chuckling chandlers, busy bakers, fabulous farmers, and all sorts of other proud providers. It takes many different people, doing very different things to keep a sleepy little village on a sleepy little island happy. And well-fed. And warm in winter. And cool in summer.
One particular day, Salvatore took his catch of fish to the dock. As did other pescatori on his island. There, he cleaned them for market to people shopping for evening meals. As did other pescatori on his island. This was their habit. Cleaning his fish, a marvelous thing happened. A ring, the very ring Sal lost several years ago, lay in the offal. Luckily, Sal saw its glittering blues and reds and ambers before washing the inside parts of fish back to the sea. Sal thought probably the fish saw his beautiful ring and swallowed it. Well, Sal, that was certainly what happened. You might ask, “How did Salvatore’s ring end up in the sea for the fish to swallow?” That’s a good question and an interesting story. I will tell you.
Those several years ago, Salvatore went to the mainland. He needed special provisions for his tiny fishing boat. Things he could not readily get in his sleepy little island’s sleepy little village. On the mainland, Sal told the chandler what he needed. He needed ropes, floats, and buoys necessary for successful fishing. While the chandler went to work, Sal explored the busy big mainland village. After a few hours, Sal returned to the chandler’s shop. The chandler told Sal his supplies were not yet ready. Sal decided it was a good time to have il pranzo in a trattoria across the piazza from the chandler’s shop.
In la trattoria, Salvatore met a lovely young woman who took patrons’ orders and delivered their lunches when they came from la cucina. This young woman was beautiful. And funny. Some did not think she was exceptionally beautiful. But that’s what Sal thought. Wasn’t that really all that was important?
Salvatore and Angelica, for that was the young lady’s name, became fast friends. Good enough friends, that when Sal was not busy at fishing, or spending time with his island friends, he visited the mainland. Even when he did not need fishing supplies not available in his sleepy little village. He visited often, especially to enjoy il pranzo at the trattoria, to laugh and chat with Angel, as Salvatore came to call Angelica. Angel called Salvatore ‘Sal’ as that was already a comfortable-enough name. Angel and Sal got on marvelously.
Salvatore thought one day fishing, that he would show Angelica how much he liked her. What better way, he thought, than to buy for her a beautiful piece of jewelry? Young ladies love pretty, sparkly things. Sal went to the jeweler on his little home island. There he found a delightfully gorgeous ring with blue and red and amber stones in a very handsome, delicate silver setting.
The ring was rather expensive. Though Salvatore’s friend, Antonio, or Tony, the jeweler, gave Sal a very comfortable price for the ring, it was more than Sal could easily pay. What? Sal did not give away his fish. Well, he did to the village priest. But Sal understood Tony should be paid for such a nice ring. So, Sal set himself to fishing more industriously.
Salvatore saved his fisherman’s earnings. Except for what he needed to rent his little stall in the village market and his little apartment over the cobbler’s shop on la strada principale. Of course, some of his lire he used to visit the mainland and Angelica. Now and again he visited Angelica, only a little less often than before.
Finally, Salvatore had enough lire to buy the ring from his friend Antonio, the jeweler. Sal wanted to go immediately to the mainland. But of course, to give Angelica his prize. As difficult as it was, Sal waited, dutifully working at his fishing. The proper day came. Sal’s fishing and marketing work was done. It was time. Time to ride his little boat to the mainland. Time for Sal to show Angel how much he valued their friendship.
When Salvatore started for the mainland, the sea between his island and the mainland was agitated. So it seemed to Sal. Boisterous waves were bigger than normal. Confused winds agreed with the sea and blew unkindly as winds will now and again. Remember, Sal was a fisherman. He knew the sea and the wind. Neither acting in this irregular way worried Sal. He left for the mainland with his prize. You remember Sal’s prize? Sal was so excited he could not resist. He took the ring from his pocket to admire it. A big smile covered Sal’s face for the ring’s loveliness and it’s bright colors. You remember what colors were in the ring, don’t you? Sal was excited to be able to show Angelica how much their friendship meant to him with this gift.
Along came a puff of wind, making friends with an over-anxious wave. Salvatore was busy enjoying the ring and thinking of gifting it to Angelica. How delighted she would be! In Angel’s happiness, Sal would be happy too. The wave and wind together caught Sal by surprise, nearly tipping over his little boat. Sal managed to keep his boat from upsetting and spilling Sal into the excited seas. He was not able to hold onto the ring. It slipped from his fingers and splashed delicately into the deep sea. It all happened so very quickly Sal could not be fast enough to snatch back the ring before it disappeared into the blue-green water.
Brokenhearted, Salvatore visited with Angelica that trip to the mainland. He could not bear to tell her of the wonderful ring he had for her but lost for a moment of not paying attention. Angel knew nothing of the ring. She did feel Sal was sad. She didn’t understand. Sal didn’t explain. Angel did not ask, but she tried to make Sal feel better. Indeed, for Angel’s concern, Sal felt better when he left for home. Not entirely happy, but better.
Salvatore continued to visit Angelica on the mainland, but it was for a long time quite without much joy. So sad was Sal, and maybe a little embarrassed, his visits might have been something not as regular, not as often as before.
But now! The fish found the ring. Salvatore caught the fish. (Or the fish found Sal, I don’t know for certain.) Gloriously, the ring returned to Sal! The ring for Angelica! Once again Sal could hardly wait. But he did. The time came. His work was done for the week. The ring, this time, would remain in his pocket until he was on the mainland and in the trattoria chatting-away with Angel.
The sea was on this trip again upset. Seas do that from time to time. The wind was of the same mind, carelessly tearing the tops off waves to make salty spray to fill the air and spritz Salvatore’s smiling face. And yes, the ring stayed safely in his pocket. Sal had learned his lesson. Arriving at the mainland, Sal tied his little boat to the pilings on the coast near the mainland village.
As Sal walked through the piazza cittadina, he saw Angelica busy with customers. He managed to find a place to sit. By and by, Angel came to see what he would choose for il pranzo.
“Sal! How wonderful to see you! It has been two months now. Where have you been?” asked Angel.
This made Salvatore think. Had it really been two months? He said to Angelica, “Oh Angel, you know, fishing and tending equipment. Fisherman things.”
“Well,” said Angelica, “It is so very nice to see you again! What would you care to eat?”
“I am too excited to eat. I have something important to show you,” said Salvatore. “Something to show you how much our friendship means to me!”
“Really?” asked Angelica.
On the heels of that question, Salvatore pulled the sparkling multi-colored ring from his pocket and handed it to Angelica.”
“Ooh! It is lovely!” cooed Angelica. “But I cannot take this, Sal.”
“Why not?” asked Salvatore.
“It is too expensive!” Angelica replied.
“It is not,” offered Salvatore with a big smile.
“Oh, Sal,” began Angelica, “two months I missed you. I thought we perhaps were not friends anymore.”
“But we are!” argued Salvatore.
“Well, Sal. We are friends, but you hurt my feelings.”
“By not coming to visit for two whole months!”
Somewhat embarrassed, Salvatore suddenly felt also a little ashamed. “I am sorry, Angel,” he mumbled.
“Oh, Sal. We are still friends. I will accept your beautiful ring. Every time I glance at it, it will remind me of our friendship.”
Salvatore and Angelica continued to be great friends. Sal, being a fisherman, sometimes had responsibilities that kept him busy. Busy so he was a day or two late visiting Angel on the mainland. But never, ever, did two months again pass between visits.
I am not one to know how Angelica managed it, but she gifted Salvatore shortly after Sal delivered his prize ring. She gave Sal a glorious pocket watch in a sea-proof case on a long silver Albert chain. When she surprised him with it, she declared, “Sal! This watch does not tick away the days. But it will tell you the hour and remind you to make time to visit the mainland regularly.” She giggled.
Salvatore grinned. “It is beautiful, Angel. Thank you. I promise to be careful not to be too busy ever again!”
And he wasn’t.
(c) S P Wilcenski 2020
[Another version of essentially the same waits for your son to read when he first experiences romantic tragedy.’ Still in progress, but soon… So very soon…’]