Grammar

by Ilaria Vajngerl

Grammar, Ilaria Vajngerl

The streets were sizzling from the heat. During that scorching summer, the sun was stricking down those who dared to go out before sunset. The city felt completely empty. Piero was studying appositions lying down on the bathroom floor, in his underwear, so that his belly could absorb what little freshness was coming from the damp tiles. After a while, his elbows were starting to go numb. He was doing his homework firmly pushing the pencil on the book, because the pencil lead was too hard, it was cutting the page instead of writing on it. His mother was working in an office, his father was a lorry driver, he flunked the previous school year so he was repeating it: he saw his parents just before going to bed and it was more than enough.

The apposition is not an adjective, it is a noun functioning as an adjective. His father Gianfranco always eats at the service stations. Piero was good at grammar, it was easy for him, understanding the words and grouping them was all it took, as it happens with people. Walter was his best friend since they started school, he had crooked teeth, could spit far and could also speak Romanian. Filippo, on the other hand, moved to the same building just a couple years before but he had wonderful ideas on how to fight boredom, as, for example, changing an epigraph picture with one taken from a newspaper. So, Lina Fontana, eighty-two years old, became Lisa Snowdon and nobody went to the funeral and the funeral parlours were left with nothing.

Every afternoon, they met behind the supermarket, in the empty parking lot which was the perfect location to listen to music and watch porn. They watched it from Walter’s phone, because it was the only one without restrictions, his brother unlocked it for five euro. They each pitched in one euro sixty-seven, it was a real bargain. Sometimes they laid down on the roundabout in the middle of the main intersection, because it was the only green space they could reach walking. Other times, they played football, when the sun was too hot they took off their shirts and laid down staring at the sky until their sight faded; then, they got up with difficulty and attempted to cross the road, despite the dizziness. It was hilarious. One time, Piero stumbled right when a Punto was coming. The woman driving the car abruptly stopped and started screaming. Walter immediately snapped a picture and posted it on Instagram, #fearless #crazyfriend #nevergiveup: a hundred likes in ten minutes.

Piero and Filippo named Walter the Hyena, which is a good example of an object complement and of the absolute truth. Whenever they went out and he was in a bad mood, obeying and shutting up were the only things to do. He vented on the city because it was everywhere and could not defend itself: he wrote on benches, broke mirrors, scored cars with his keys just because his hormones started acting up. His mother always said that adolescence was a disease: it suddenly begins and it goes away with patience and the right meds. Walter cheeks were covered in zits and he started putting on deodorant. Piero armpits, on the other hand, were not smelling and he woke up every day feeling fine. If Walter had been a mood, he would have been a categorical imperative, his orders were to be obeyed and his moods were to be supported, even if they were more unpredictable than the future (majority comparative).

As when Filippo’s father had half a can of white paint and Walter wanted it more than anything. But what do we need a can of paint for? (indirect interrogative sentence), asked Piero. Walter did not answer, he just left the room, leaving the door open. He was waiting for them on the sidewalk, they came empty-handed so he started yelling, ordering them to go back and take the paint, which would surely have come in handy. After that, whatever he said was no longer understandable because he was simply howling an apparently endless sequence of Romanian curses.

In the parking lot, Piero said that they could do a graffiti on the wall near the supermarket warehouse. Filippo noted that they did not have a brush, they did not know how to draw and that a white graffiti on a white wall would go unnoticed. So they just sat on the edge of a flowerbed, without speaking, Walter was playing on his phone, without noticing the sun burning different shades of red on his arms. Mosquitoes were ravaging their legs, Walter, scratching, sometimes broke scabs and blood started flowing down, inside his shoe.

Oh! (interjection) Ehi! (interjection) Filippo had an idea. They went on the overpass from where they watched the sunset, smoking cigarette butts that Walter stole from his father’s ashtray. They tasted like dirt. Under them, the bypass was voraciously roaring. The three boys looked at it from above without seeing its end, the landscape was crushed by the scorching heat.

They wanted to drop a drool of paint on the road to soil roofs of the cars driving in the second lane. They poke a hole on the cover, it was a jagged hole made with a nail that Piero always kept in his pocket because his mother did not want to buy him a Swiss Army knife. It was fun, the paint was thinly flowing out as a white yarn, sewing together cars stucked in traffic, one after another, a horn could be heard sometimes.

I wanted to be the one who invented the wheel but the world was already completed, said Walter. Piero shook the can to ease the paint flow but the lid came off, bouncing on a blue convertible Lancia. The paint stained the windscreen, the driver used the wipers, which painted white the windscreen, transforming it in a bed sheet.

Disaster, according to grammars, should be a noun, singular, concrete, primitive. In the real world, disaster meant a lot of cars crushed together, as sheets of paper ready to be thrown away.
People was screaming in the cars.
People was screaming out of the cars.

Piero, Walter e Filippo run on the scorching tarmac, only the heat tried to stop them, slapping their faces, grabbing their ankles, filling their lungs with rubbery air: each breath was painful.
They stopped when Filippo fell. He fell near the garbage bins, his knees were bleeding. Piero helped him up and only then they look around and realized that fear forced their mouths and eyes so that they looked like their parents.
They kept on walking, until the city changed shape and, after the buildings in which they lived, factories started to appear. Flat, ugly depots, surrounded by a summer silence, sealed by the alarms.

In some Romance languages, the partitive article is used in relation to indefinite quantities in a set but it is not to be confused with the object.
A group of partitive tired children who were afraid of object death.
They were not crying. They went on until the factories became fields and street lamps became corn. They passed through the corn, the sharp leaves cut their increasingly curved shoulders. Swallows were flying low to catch mosquitoes, a transparent moon showed up even if the sun had yet not set. The smell of the city was gone, they walked even further until their hormones, their disorder, their desire to run away, run out.
Filippo called his mother.
We are lost, I send you our position, come and get us.

An hypothetical clause expresses an hypothesis and its consequence. The past perfect in the if-clause suggests impossibility or implausibility. For example: if Internet had not been invented, they would have never made it back; if summer had not existed, there would have been less free time; if they would not have been teenagers, they would have had a girlfriend instead of watching porn; if the world would have been less ready for them, Piero, Walter and Filippo would have found something to do. Now the only thing left to do was to wait for the heat to go away, as acne and traffic on the bypass.

Maybe, grammar was invented by someone who did not want to be bored anymore.

translated by Francesco Piccoli

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