pages A Set Theory

by Letizia Pezzali

Published in Issue No. 133 ~ June, 2008

Levante loves Miranda.

They have brushed past each other for the first time, a handful of seconds ago, their bodies chastely hidden by the limpid green of the Sicilian sea. He is standing close to the shore, his feet hesitating in a cautious dance, measuring the bottom. She has entered the water and is swimming now, sweet yet stubborn towards the open sea, moving gracefully in that style, the one resembling the frog.

“A frog, agile like a fish. A frog-fish,” thinks Levante as he wades up to his neck. Then he bursts into laughter, picturing the frog-fish, and by laughing he creates tiny bubbles on the surface, and drinks some water by mistake.

“The frog-fish can exist.” Levante shivers while the sun, sweet yet stubborn like Miranda, is burning his forehead and shoulders, though he is still far from realising it. He will discover later that night, and yes, it will be too late.

“The frog-fish can exist. The spider-fish can exist, too.” While he carries on with naturalistic acumen, he remembers he must lift his feet from the bottom, and flap them slowly, because the spider-fish might hide in the sand, and that is not a comfortable thought.

As everyone knows, the spider-fish lives concealed at the bottom of the sea and stings people’s feet, thus fomenting a contrast between the desire of remaining utterly still in the water and the need to move and defend from the creatures hidden in the sand, a concern which is not uncommon amongst those who don’t swim.

Of the various possible partitions of humankind, the division between those who swim and those who don’t is actually a very well-known one. Levante belongs to the non-swimmers set and when he goes to the seaside he is a spectator. Miranda is a protagonist instead. Not that she cares about it, probably she is not even aware of it. She simply enjoys swimming and if she was presented with the set theory she wouldn’t necessarily understand. “I like sports, that’s all.”

Levante observes the swimmers set. Their heads, scattered on the sea, resemble many tasty mushrooms on the grass. A wicked giant, strolling heavily on the surface, might soon harvest them and make risotto.

“Yes, I love Miranda.”

He saw her and that’s enough to wish he could run on the surface, that’s right, run like the giant would do, and reach her and pluck her and… No, not eat her! Kiss her!

Miranda stops, maybe she’s detected his plans. She turns her delicate head and shakes a mass of blonde, salty hair. “When the sea is a blue board,” she thinks. “Quando il mare e’ una tavola blu,” he sings. She then realises she is very far from the shore. Her stubborn swim, as usual, dragged her beyond expectation.

“People who swim like frogs are always slim, quiet and discreet,” thinks Levante.

But what if Miranda was a sparkling girl instead, who enjoys evenings with loud English friends, debating about some intricate, overpopulated love affairs? What if she drank vodka Red Bull? What if she swam like a frog and yet was the complete opposite of frog swimmers? Levante is positive, he would love her all the same, and his love would be eternal and turquoise.

He smiles at her while she swims back towards the shore. Miranda is myopic and realises only when she is very close to the beach. A pair of ironic, somewhat bitter eyes react to Levante’s smile. Then she shrugs and waves, raising the left arm while running in low water.

“Miranda!” he shouts, but it is too late. Miranda is already wrapped in a remote towel, lost in the tangle of beach umbrellas, chattering with friends who call her by a different name.