My insouciance is totally superficial. I’m an actor playing a role. The script demands that I project the appearance of strength, self-possession. A character who is not given to puerile whining. So I slip off my sandals, cross my ankles on the seat before me. The ship’s bow plows violently into a large wave. Cold spray strikes my face. My sunglasses are covered with a profusion of tiny salty beads, temporarily blurring my view of the world.
I am on a day trip to…what difference does it make? Procida, Capri, Ponza, or Ventotene. Islands a few kilometers off the coast of southern Italy that represent various aspects of Vittoria’s personality. Other than availability, I should add.
Last night I was awakened by passing thunderstorms and rain showers. Before dawn the courtyard was lighted by a bright full moon. Then came a beautifully clear sky, unlimited visibility.
I thought: Vittoria’s being in hiding is, after all this time, a gnawing constant. Whenever I think I see portents that she’ll reappear—like last night’s full moon, or the mystical significance of the passing of 40 days—I soon know that it’s just wishful thinking that’s stirring up my brain.
Maybe I need to seriously rethink everything, because I’m angry. Totally fed up. I’ve had enough. One should not love such a woman. That’s the long and short of it.
* * *
She must have read my mind. As soon as I got back from Procida the phone rang. I said hello, but I heard only silence. I knew it was her.
“Vittoria, speak to me,” I said.
“Just say something. A single word.”
Then she hung up.
Five minutes later, the phone rang again.
“Speak,” I said.
But finally I got a few things out of her. One, she is still in a safe place. Two, she has been seeing a counselor. Yes, a counselor. Three, the counselor said she must soon go home and talk to her father about the adoption, and she knows he’s right. Four, she is extremely angry at her father because he lied to her. Her whole life has been a lie. And so on.
“When are you going to go home?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
“I hope sooner rather than later. The family is waiting for you. Especially your father.”
“But I’m so angry at him.”
“How could he have known the secret would come out?”
“He should have told me the truth, from the beginning.”
“If you were in his place, what would you have done?”
“I’d tell the kid.”
We talked for about half an hour. In the middle of her last sentence the connection broke, bringing a dial tone. I knew she hadn’t hung up on me. Likely she was using a calling card, and it had run out.
Forty days. A full moon.
What a coincidence.