After a year of high adventure, its time for one young woman to return home.
It was unseasonably damp in The Skirrid Inn on the night of 17th June, 1724. A tremendous storm had struck during the day, clearing the early summer humidity and setting the scene for a dramatic couple of days in the small town of Knaresborough.
It was a late spring day in 1981. Ana Severino clocked off early from the paediatrics ward in Hospital de Madrid. The new national healthcare system meant there were more and more staff on the ward, so no-one would notice her leave a few minutes before the end of her shift.
Something shakes me from sleep, a rhythmic clanging, harsher than the church bell. And closer too.
I sit up. The walls flicker in the dim light of the hearth fire. Across the room, Father’s side of the bed is empty, but Mother’s is not. She can sleep through anything.
“Your limbs grow weary, and the inn’s still far. Rest here. No need to punish your faithful and pleading flesh. Rest a moment, only a moment, and then proceed with new vigor and greater speed.”
“Foul specter, hush, quiet your insinuations and temptations. The inn’s fifteen easy minutes on a good road, and dusk stirs; the sun lowers, and your kind will be about soon. Still, still, it’s too soon to vacate your gloomy tomb.”
Potosí, Charcas, New Spain
They call it Silver Mountain, but it has only brought misery to my people.
My head hurts. Kneeling, I plunge both arms into the pool of gray sludge, feeling for another lump of stone. My fingers close around a rock and I haul it out. A piece the size of an infant’s head. I know from overhearing the Spanish azoguero that after the bonding process with mercury, the silver in this rock is worth a small crate of porcelain. But I don’t know what porcelain is, except that it is some kind of platterware.
A ray of sun struck the copper’s badge and bounced off, lighting up the voting box inside H. L. Drugstore in me South Bronx Neighborhood.