September 26th, 2002

A Sheep's Carcass

A Sheep’s Carcass

The undercurrents around the split rock halfway between Soccorso and the beach at Citera are powerful. They sweep even experienced swimmers out to sea. The currents also bring things in. Like the carcass of a sheep, which likely fell off a cliff near Sant Angelo, on the island’s south side.

“Look!” Nonna said.

Pretty soon the other women joined her. It’s not that they’d never seen a dead sheep before. But this was the very spot where, a couple months ago, the body of the Dottore’s son came in and was smashed against the rocks. The same dangerous place where, three days before, the lad had been sucked into the undertow.

The authorities were preparing to send out the boats of the Carabinieri and the Coast Guard and the helicopters to find the boy’s body but the Dottore told them no, do not bother. “Dead is dead.”

* * *

The phone rang. It was Vittoria!

She said: “Remember that dream I had a while back about that actress, what’s her name?”
“Veronica Lake?”
“Yes, that’s her. Well, I had another one.”
“Please tell me about it.”
“She came to me again, like last time. She was wearing white, almost like a ghost. Beautiful, small framed, blonde hair, bluish-green eyes. She took me by the hand and we went running in these wild fields of sunflowers.”
“Tall sunflowers?”
“Yes. I asked her, ‘How will we find the way out of this field?’ And she looked at me and said, ‘You know better than that.’”
“Do you think she meant you already knew?”
“She said, ‘You have special powers but you still don’t know how to use them.’ I looked at her, and she looked at me.”
“She said, ‘It will come to you. Just tune in.’ But I don’t know what that means.”
“Maybe it means that you need to take the right path.”
“Because when you’re on the wrong path, nothing works right.”
“She told me I need to get things straight. She said there’s too much that I need to do.”
“She also said not to worry. It will all go well.”
“That must have made you feel pretty good.”
“I guess so.”

We were silent for a while.

Then she said, “I got angry at my therapist yesterday. I gave him this look, and I was thinking, ‘I hope you spill your coffee.’ And guess what?”
“He spilled his coffee?”
“Yes. He actually did. Then I thought, this can’t be true, it’s just a weird fluke. And then that night I had the dream I just told you about.”
“What did he say that made your angry?”
“He said that I should go back home this week.”
“And you don’t want to.”
“I told him I wasn’t ready yet. He’s so damn pushy. He said I must.”
“Sweetpea, you’ll never guess how I feel about this.”
“I agree with your therapist. It’s time. Now. More than forty days have passed.”
“I have another appointment today.”
“Well, talk it over with him. Keep an open mind.”
“Fine. I’ll think about it. But I can’t make any promises.”
“You have to get things straight. That’s what your dream lady told you. Staying where you are isn’t going to do it.”
“I know. I just needed this time to think.”
“And you did. Listen, once you get back you’ll begin to create a new life. A new identity. One that is truly yours, not handed down to you.”
“This is too hard. The people I thought were my family are not…”

We talked a long time. Toward the end of the conversation I realized that we had returned to the intimate state we were in before she left. It was as if those awful forty days of her being hidden away somewhere had never taken place. I wondered aloud how she’d managed it.

“I’ve got you around my little pinky,” she replied. “And you know it.”