At spiaggia d’ Citera yesterday morning I spent a long time contemplating the incoming waves. On an idyllic impulse, I reached in my bag for my cell phone. I punched the speed dial for Vittoria’s number in America, and listened to her recorded message. At the beep I said:
Sweetpea, twenty-five hundred years ago an Etruscan sat at this spot on the beach and watched the breakers rolling in, as I am watching them now. Twenty-five-hundred years from now someone else will be doing the same. This place is timeless. Also timeless is our connection to each other. We have always been together, and we always will be. . .
Totally ridiculous, I suddenly thought. Vittoria doesn’t remember who I am. These saccharine, melodramatic words will only add to her confusion. I mumbled something about always thinking about her, and hoping we’d talk soon on IM, then shut the damned thing off. I found a stone bench where I brushed off the sand from my bare feet, then put on my socks and shoes and headed toward the hill.
Beside me suddenly appeared Lucia, a plump woman in her late 50s whom I’d hired briefly four years ago as a translator. We shook hands and exchanged greetings. She said she was here on Ischia for the Easter holiday and in a few days will go back up north, to a little village near Milano, where she works in a children’s library. Last summer she was deeply intrigued by all the publicity in the Italian press about my Vittoria and the adoption story.
“So what’s the latest?” Lucia asked.
I filled her in about the great skepticism my book was getting from various literary agents and publishers. There’s simply not enough solid proof, they say. Defamation laws are strict. Nobody wants to risk a lawsuit brought by a fabulously rich movie star.
“To settle the adoption issue,” I said, “I’m planning to go to the Municipo in Barano.”
“What do think you will find there?”
“Vittoria’s birth certificate will either prove or disprove her adoption story,” I replied.
Lucia shook her head. “These documents are meaningless,” she said. “They contain only the information that a father chooses to give. Forty years ago on this island nobody kept accurate records. Even today you can bribe officials to write down whatever you want.”
We continued walking along the coast road. I rambled on about my intention to nevertheless keep pursuing the matter. Which is the only choice I have, inasmuch as I’ve made a solemn promise to both Vittoria and myself to never give up.
“Why is it so important for you to find out exactly what happened?” Lucia asked.
“Truth is the foundation of fiction,” I said. “Besides, I’m not at all fond of ambiguity.”
Lucia laughed. “But a good mystery holds a reader’s attention, doesn’t it?”
“Yes,” I nodded. “I suppose.”
A short distance from the Soccorso Chapel Lucia said she needed to stop by her hotel. I said that perhaps we’d encounter each other again soon. Arrivederci! Ciao!
I resumed walking. The more I struggle against ambiguity, I thought, the deeper it sucks me in. I’m sinking. If I stop struggling I know I will continue to sink. . . but at least less quickly.
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