The epiphany came at three in the morning, when I suddenly awoke in my dark bedroom. Vittoria’s adopted. Yes! It explained everything.
What then rushed into my mind were a lot of little things that I hadn’t paid much attention to when she’d brought them up in conversations. For instance, people would come to the villa in Buonopane and note her blonde hair and green eyes, and ask her father, not exactly in a joking manner, “Are you sure she’s yours?” And her father always replied, “She favors her aunt in Ponza.” Or something like that.
Vittoria felt different, from the beginning. As a child she’d come up with some mischievous idea. She’d encourage her two older brothers to join her, and they’d look at her strangely, and say, “How could you think of doing that? Don’t you know how much trouble you will get us into?”
Wanting a bicycle when she was nine. None of the other little girls would dare suggest such a thing. There were many more examples.
When I told the professor about this latest twist, he nodded. “Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate.”
I recognized a couple words. “Occam’s Razor?”
“Precisely. One should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything. In other words keep it simple.”
“I can imagine how hard that is for you,” I said.
But it was hard for me as well, because surely what Vittoria was feeling now was anything but simple. And I wanted to talk to her, to offer her support. She said she’d call, but she didn’t. When I dialed her number I got her answering machine. I left my identifying signal of three beeps. But she did not pick up. Two days went by. Nothing.
“You're deeply upset, and rightly so,” I wrote in an e-mail. “The whole thing is just too much to process at once. I know you need to go into hiding when your feelings overwhelm you. But remember that when you're ready to come back, you can talk to me.”
When I saw the couple on the bench yesterday I thought of Vittoria’s parents. They’d intended to keep their secret forever. I thought of her mother’s shocked silence, and her father’s dropping the phone when he realized it all would come out soon.
At the moment they’re both likely wondering: Why?