Versione Italiana

di Jessica Mazzotti

Illustration by: Annalisa Zungri

Gino’s belly button


When Gino was nine, he found the way to a secret place.

That day, on the levee over the court, Gino was sitting hunching his legs. Holed up behind the Enel’s cabin for two hours, he was playing hide-and-seek; the sun of June straight on his head. Everything that wasn’t asphalt, was the court. Il Pillo, who was counting, was able to found just il Panzani: he went out after only half an hour because it was snack time and his mother came to bring him the sandwich with the soppressata. Gino was hearing il Pillo, who was tired to looking for the others, screaming “Call off! Call off!” to all directions; he was trying to set a trap to someone. But everyone knew il Pillo, famous slacker, count durnshift, never wolfeatsfruit, rarely ice wizard and always durnride at the door. For this reason, nobody took the bite. Also, there was no condition to call off the play. There are only three reasons to call off, since forever: snowstorm, tsunami or a call from mommy, weather condition against which is useless to stepping on any toes.

Gino remained hidden, cloaked by the reeds, not trusting in any way the screaming of Pillo. He ripped some grass around his feet, tasting some leaf or insect which seemed tasty to him. To kill the time, he started to watch his invisible pores, scratching his skin in front of the light to see if he could surprise his dead cells flying away and raining slowly in the air. His attention was moving, he overlooked his weenie and he focused a lot on his belly button. Since his father used to tell him: “Gigì, don’t look at your belly button!”, then his son’s focus was right on it, all the more all the Call off!  Screamed by il Pillo moved away.

First of all, he measured the circumference – one hundred and twelve ant’s steps – then he put his pinky to see how deep it was – two and a half Gino’s phalanges – and at the end he filled it like a pool with a spit from the above. He closed his eyes and he acted like he took a dip, with the arms like a pyramid; then, he expanded them and he swam like frogs do. When he wanted to open his eyes, something strange happened: he couldn’t do it, they were stuck. From the fingertips of his head to the fingertips on his feet he had a dizziness that made his stomach fly away, like he was on that water slide. He felt the traffic over the levee and Pillo very far away, ccalll off, cllff! He was scared. So he squeezed his eyes and he sang the coffee bean’s lullaby.


Lullaby, lullaby

Salad wasn’ there

Seven bowls on the king’s table there were

Lullaby lullaby

There is one also for you,

Inside there is too

Just a little coffee bean or two…


Finally his eyelids moved from each other. He was immersed in a warm, clear and purple water. He looked around swimming like a little dog. He must have been in a small lake: he could see the shore flow along the whole circle. The trees and the bushes were pink and blue, enormous butterflies, orange, yellow and red, flew on the water. He reached the shore and he lied down, belly-up to breath and to watch the clouds; he picked up some black flowers close to him and he smelled them: they tasted like chocolate and milk and coffee. While he was taking off the petals, “I go back, I don’t go back”, he saw the clouds moving very fast and it was like watching a movie: he saw some with the shape of deer chasing other clouds with a shape of lions; clouds with a shape of a shark running away from small clouds with a shape of tadpoles. Oh, look, the tadpoles reached the shark and now, with that clouds with a shape of a jellyfish they tickled him and all the sky was laughing; also Gino laughed and he laughed again; so, tired from so much fun, he fall asleep.

When he woke up behind the Enel’s cabin, everyone was looking for him, he was the last one: no kidding, he won the hide-and-seek game! He went out from the hideout; Gino, Il Pillo, Il Panzani and the others screamed wildly some bad words that they made up and they chased each other until dinner time.

At the dinner table Gino ate even broccoli with appetite. His belly button’s lake was discovered now, he would told all his friends soon and then they would do cannonball on the purple water, they would chase the yellow butterflies, maybe they would taste those black flowers which smelled like chocolate.

They would chase those little paths, who knows, maybe they could take to little wolves caves, populated by cats with licorice’s tails.

How many colorful and perfumedadventures he lived in his teenager years, as an adult and as a grandfather. Who knows what Gino could tell us today, if we could find his address; it would be enough to find his bell, ring and, maybe, he could give us a sign to follow him.


Jessica Mazzotti

translated by Alessandra Lo Duca