The screen door slammed shut, and Arabella once again scanned the neighborhood for any sign of Ramiro’s return.
The coast is clear, she thought to herself.
The clock on the wall indicated she had at least a half-hour of reading time left. She raced back to the couch, pulled the fleece over her, and returned to her place in the book. Thirty minutes of reading akin to a thirty-second kiss when the throes of passion resemble the submissive devotion of love.
She resumed reading and plunged once again into the flood of romantic revelations that might have changed her life, regardless of her circumstance, if she would have believed that they were more than the ravings of a fictional character.
Despite her maniacal love for books, and the people who populated the realm within the pages, she understood that her fictional friends existed only in her imagination, even if they felt more familiar to her than anyone with whom she interacted in her daily life. Not merely because she was an introvert by nature, but because her knowledge of the people she had recently spoken with remained shrouded by the shadows of memory.
Recollections lost—like time during sleep—were mentioned in hopes of helping her remember, but they only felt like a breeze from yesterday that had nothing to do with the present. The paradigm ignited in her a longing for the nostalgic musings that fill the space between heartbeats and the silence between seconds.
Unlike the worlds painted with words, the city of Old Sienna with its cobbled streets and stone houses remained foreign to her. It had been so since the day she was found wandering from the unnumbered houses of the Shanty District to the Alley of the Angels.
In the pre-dawn hours of that fateful day, everything looked desolate, and even the statues of the angels appeared melancholy beneath the overcast sky. Her eyes red as if she had recently awakened from crying in her sleep, but she felt no heartache and recalled no dreams. Time and memory lost to her, the details of her past blurred like watercolors in the rain. It was there, in the enduring echo of silence where the cathedral crowned the colonial city of cobbled streets and stone mansions built like palaces that Sister Maria de Los Lagos found her.
“You’ve been missing for days. Thank God, and His blessed angels for returning you safely!” She crossed herself and ushered Arabella into a side entrance of the cathedral off the Alley of the Angels.
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