It had always just been the three of them – Bambino, Papa and Nonno. Or that was all that he remembered. He knew that he had a Nonna and a Mama at one point because Papa and Nonno talked about them often. Bambino had only extremely vague memories of them, though. What he remembered of Nonna was the scent of cinnamon and flour. According to Nonno, she baked a lot, which made sense. Nonno talked about Nonna an awful lot, so while Bambino didn’t remember much of her, he heard a lot about her from his grandfather. It was a bit of a different story with his mother, though. Papa never talked about Mama too much. Maybe a brief passing comment, but that was it. Bambino had a little more memories of Mama than he did of Nonna. He remembered her gentle touch and the sound of her singing him to sleep. The memories were only in glimpses and fragments, but he held onto them.
The three of them lived in a small cabin on a tiny island off the coast of Italy. Their home was very small, as it was only one room. They just had the bare minimum in their home, but that was really all they needed. It didn’t really matter, in all honesty, because they didn’t spend a whole lot of time in their cabin – or at least, Papa and Nonno didn’t. They were fishermen and spent most of their time out on the ocean, catching fish to sell on the mainland. Bambino was occasionally left behind on the island when Papa and Nonno thought that the waters might be a little too dangerous for someone so small. They went out fishing every day except for Sunday, which was always a very special day, especially for Bambino. They would attend church in the morning and then spend the rest of the day together. Once they got home, they would eat, play games, chat and play music together. Bambino looking forward to Sundays all week because he so loved spending time with his Papa and Nonno.
The relationship between Papa and Nonno was a little funny to watch for Bambino. They were two very different men that were equally stubborn and opinionated. Bambino tried to be a little bit of each of them. He could constantly be found mimicking them both little by little. There was no way that he could possibly just mimic one because he loved them both so much. The two men argued frequently, which Bambino didn’t necessarily like, but at least it was never about something very serious. They argued about things like whether to fry or grill the chicken or whether they should wear neckties or bowties to church.
Little did Bambino know that Papa and Nonno had a very special job to do every night while he slept. They would sail out into the ocean until they arrived at the moon. Every night, the moon would be covered with fallen stars and it was their job to sweep the stars into the appropriate shape for the moon’s lunar cycle, whether it be half-moon, crescent moon, or a new moon. One night, Bambino had trouble sleeping and realized that Papa and Nonno were leaving in the middle of the night, so he decided to follow them. He was extremely sneaky about what he was doing and didn’t get caught, but he was only able to follow them to the dock. They traveled so far out into the ocean that they disappeared, so he had no choice but to go back to the cabin.
His curiosity was quenched the very next night, though, because Papa and Nonno invited him out onto the boat with them to go complete their mysterious job. They were very secretive about where they were going and what they were doing, but Bambino saw their sly smiles, so he knew that he didn’t need to be worried. Papa and Nonno would never let anything bad happen to him. They traveled to a certain point in the ocean when they suddenly stopped. Bambino looked to Papa and Nonno for answers, but they gave him none. What they did give him, though, was a hat just like the both of them wore! They argued for a little bit on how he should wear it, either up like Nonno or down like Papa. To pass the time, he did little things to mimic the two men. Bambino hoped that when he was all grown up, he would be just like the two of them. Who could be better to be like anyway?
Suddenly, the sky was lit up with a bright light and he ran over to the side of the boat to investigate. His eyes widened with awe when he realized that the light was coming from the moon that was moving up into the sky. Papa handed him an anchor and then pulled out a ladder that was the biggest he’d ever seen! He was instructed to take the anchor and carry it up the ladder. Bambino was hesitant, but he did what he was told. The moon was completely covered in stars – that was where the light had come from! He shoved the anchor into one of the moon craters before Papa and Nonno followed him up the ladder. While he waited for them, he investigated the stars that were littered around the moon. He knelt down next to one and touched it with his finger – it lit up at his touch! Papa and Nonno finally climbed up to the moon and led him to a shed where there were some buckets and brooms and tools. Papa wanted him to use the push broom like he did, but Nonno wanted Bambino to use the regular broom like him. It spurred on another argument and while they argued, a gigantic falling star came flying towards the moon. The three of them dove into a crater for shelter until the star came crashing down.
Papa and Nonno spent a long time trying to get the giant star out from the moon’s surface. They broke several brooms but were unable to remove the giant star. Bambino slowly approached and knocked on it. Just like the miniature star, it lit up at his touch. He suddenly got an idea and went back to the shed to dig out a hammer. While Papa and Nonno argued about what to do, he climbed up to the tip of the star, found just the right spot and hit it with the hammer.
The star broke apart into little stars, but as that happened, everything went dark. The light from the stars was gone and he could barely see anything in front of him. Bambino cried out for Papa and Nonno, but he was just met with silence. Even in the Darkness, he knew that they weren’t out there and he was alone. Slowly, creatures began to appear on the moon’s surface and Bambino rushed back down to the boat to escape them. Once he arrived in the boat, he was met with a group that was being led to safety and he was ushered along by the leaders.
They moved into what he was told was the real world and something very strange happened to him upon crossing over the portal. He was much taller and stronger than he was back home and it wasn’t until he saw himself in the mirror that he saw for sure what had happened. Bambino was taken to what was called the Transition Center where it was explained that the Darkness had fallen and the animated world was infected with evil. He decided quickly that he would go across the portal as often as he needed to keep his memories. They were so very important to him and he didn’t want to ever lose them. He picked a new name and took up a job at the transition center and housing complex.
Every time he crossed back over into the animated world, he looked for Papa and Nonno. He even looked for them up on the moon, but he never found any trace of them. They had left him all alone, which was something they promised they would never do. After that realization, Jace became more withdrawn and less trusting. If you couldn’t trust your family, then who could you trust? He didn’t talk to too many people, but just kept to himself as he did his job fixing things around the transition center and housing complex.
Once he was old enough, one of the workers at the transition center urged him to study something at the university. It took quite a bit of convincing, but he finally gave in when he found out that he could spend his time studying everything about the night sky. It was definitely something that he found brought him happiness.