luca (2021) post-credits+
massimo cries once the train is gone. so do daniela & lorenzo. "it gets better with time," giulia's papà tells them. it still hurts; alberto stays in the rain until he can't hear the wheels on the tracks anymore.
giulia & luca talk all the way to genoa. about motors, about cars, about classmates, about uniforms, about weasels - seriously, about things luca has no idea what to even imagine! "my mamma will love you," she gushes, and then she talks about her mamma, about paint, about clay... luca sits, heart pounding but thrilled nevertheless.
luca tells giulia's mamma his secret the night they arrive. whether she knows already or not, it doesn't matter; he wants to tell her himself anyway. she holds onto him, strokes his hair, and it's just like he's with his own mamma.
the school in genoa is incredible. luca learns a countless number of things: geography, literature, chemistry, architecture, food... the world is so much bigger than the waters below portorosso. he finds more friends he can count on, and telling them his secret is hard but gets easier. giulia is there when he needs her, and he's there when she needs him. luca still dreams of the vespa & alberto, and he wonders what else they can do for their adventure to come.
alberto does well in portorosso, all things considered. at first the cityfolk are awkward, the fishermen especially wary, but the children know alberto as alberto, regardless of his skin or scales, and they love him for who he is. the sea monster posters are pulled off the walls & the harpoons are put away. after some time, it feels like not much has changed at all in the city - though ercole's insults for him become exclusively fish-related. alberto looks the other way because he knows that there will always be people who don't want to change.
massimo teaches alberto about human living. he learns how to cook perfect pasta, how to count coins & bills, how to get machiavelli to purr. the days are spent in the sun making deliveries & on the waters catching fish. less & less alberto thinks, silenzio bruno. he gets comfortable, he feels safe, and the tally marks on the island become so faraway.
(and alberto gets his own knife!!!)
in turn, alberto teaches massimo about the sea. there are beaches with the softest sands, jagged rocks with the most unforgiving edges. small sea monster villages, crab contests, fish farms... massimo asks about the sea monsters who raised him, and alberto gives him a lie. but the lie doesn't last long, isn't meant to; alberto tells massimo about a mamma he's forgotten & a papà who forgot him. massimo doesn't say much, he never really does, but he always keeps the tableware set for alberto, always greets him with, "buongiorno," and when alberto loses his way, massimo tries to find him.
daniela & lorenzo visit the city often. grandma paguro comes ashore, too, usually to play scopa with the other elders. lorenzo talks for hours about crustaceans with the fishermen; daniela plays ball with the mothers & children in town. they have dinner at massimo's house, whatever pasta alberto is attempting to make & whatever massimo cooks just in case. they talk about the land & the sea, the weather & the seasons, about giulia & luca. luca's parents claim they don't miss him terribly, but alberto knows it's a brave front because he does, too.
there are birthdays. there are anniversaries. there are letters. there are phone calls. there are two calendars that are marked every morning until summer arrives. there is longing.
the train brings giulia & luca back to portorosso a year later. both of them are taller but so is alberto, freckled & tanned by the sun. alberto boasts that he's now the tallest of the bunch, and giulia bets she'll at least outgrow luca by year's end. defensively, luca says she's the smallest when they're in water; she can't refute the statement. still, the three's welcoming embrace is as warm as the summer breezes.
luca has missed his family. he returns to the water & sees his mamma, his papà, and even his uncle ugo. the fish & crabs welcome him home as well, and the water has never looked bluer. he tells them every story he can, and it still doesn't feel like enough. they tell him stories, too, and he feels whole.
when staying in portorosse, luca & alberto sleep outside. giulia's room had turned into alberto's while she was away, but he gladly gives it up to sleep beside luca atop the tree. they talk underneath the not-anchovies, and the conversations never seem to stop. it feels just like last summer, but when they awaken to dewy mornings they no longer hide their tails.
massimo lets them take the boat to sea. giulia paddles while alberto & luca guide her from the water. she only accepts a helpful push from the boys when her face gets as red as her hair. and then they arrive at the island, untouched for months, and alberto sheepishly shows her what used to be his home. there is the collection of human items, the spare parts to the vespa he & luca built, the tally marks. giulia, being giulia, tells them everything about the items, how the tower must've been a lighthouse, how the tree must be decades old.
alberto listens to her speak, how excited she is to teach them, how thoughtful she is to hear him, and he says, "sorry." she doesn't understand; neither does luca. it's all in the past, but alberto wants to own up to it. "i wasn't fair to you back then. i thought you were gonna take him away," alberto says. "i didn't want to be..." alone, he doesn't say, but they hear it.
"stupido," giulia remarks, but there are tears in her eyes as the word leaves her lips. her arms wrap around him in a tight hug. "you're my fratello now, okay? luca, too."
"is luca my fratello?" alberto jokes & giulia laughs, "only if you want him to be." and luca hugs them both, even tighter. when they return to land, they sit on the pier & eat two-scoop gelato.
eventually, alberto apologizes to luca, too. "i shouldn't have done that to you," he says. they are on the beach, facing the night sky, the shore keeping their feet webbed. luca doesn't know what he's talking about, doesn't realize what he means.
"that time when i biked us into the sea, and then we... we fought," alberto continues, and luca remembers. of course he does. the dread, the frustration, the shame... the fear of being different, and the regret that he didn't say he was. alberto being his true self while luca just couldn't bear revealing his secret.
"hey," luca says. "it's okay. i'm okay." because alberto never said i forgive you to him either, but he was okay then, and they're okay now.
the summer goes on.
they enter the portorosso cup race as a team of three (granted alberto & luca don't swim) and they win - fair & square. giulia doesn't throw up along the way & no rain comes down for any surprises. the prize money doesn't go towards another vespa but to a new boat for the marcovaldos. granted, the underdogs would need to win a dozen more cups to buy the entire thing, but it's a start.
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