How does Ana, a girl born “once upon a time, a long time ago,” intertwine with Emma, a woman of present day?
Antonio, of course!
He’s an older man who meets Emma on the street and asks her to help him cross.
And their conversation begins, as written in my book:
“I feel like I wear all the years of my life as layers of skin. I am eighty, but I’ve been carrying my youth for many more years than my aged ones and so I am sometimes shocked when I look in the mirror. How can I be so old and yet still smell my mother’s kiss as she leaned toward me to say goodnight when I was young and crying about my eyes?”
“Your eyes?” I asked. The color of his eyes made me forget that the rest of his face was deeply lined. His cheeks drooped in surrender, but his eyes were alert and bright. There was no shading or depth to the blue. It was as if they were lit from behind.
“Yes, the blue scared people. They called me a demon.”
I gasped and covered my mouth with my hand.
“Are you ok?”
“Yes, I haven’t heard that word in quite a while,” I whispered. My mother’s words echoed loudly in my head.
Child, you think you’re so pretty with that wild, demon hair? You look like a whore. You’re just asking for it. Now I see why it will happen.
I blinked, collected myself, then noticed the old man was waiting for me to speak. “So I look like this Ana your father told you about?”
“Yes, my father told me the story of Ana because it was the story told to him from his father. Each of us, he said, will take a part of Ana and carry it with us and that piece will become the instep of our stride. It is the thread of a family, whether told through story, through drawings, through the invisible traits we pass down. It is like the quiet breeze on a rainy day. You don’t quite realize the soft wind because you’re wet. And then before you know it, you either start enjoying or fighting the storm as the air moves through you. I’m not sure that makes sense. I don’t talk to people that much anymore and I’m starting to realize I have a lot to say. How about I tell you a secret?”
I don’t want to give up the secret…just wanted to share how deeply this character means to me. I have written about Ana and Emma, the two main characters, as well as Eloisa and Antonio, their teachers. The rest you will have to read, inside the river, where all our stories flow.