He did not
follow. He only looked after her for a while. Ana distanced herself from him
slowly, walking on the edge of the sea, bending from time to time to pick up an
empty shell. She was wearing nothing but her yellow bikini that Al could not
persuade her to take off, although now, on the last day of September, the beach
The blues rhythms of Tom
Waits were flooding them from the direction of the bar. The bartender had been
listening stubbornly to only this tape since their arrival.
Their first argument. Al had waited it with a certain apprehension, same as he had waited his first
visit to the dentist as a child. His friends had been boasting about the
horrors that happened there and how heroically they had faced them, and Al had
been afraid that he would not raise to the expectations, that he would cry or
faint. Things had proved less serious, he had coped successfully, then.
He was pleased this time
too. He did not regret anything of what he had said. He hoped that they would
never argue, least of all there, at The Frontier, where only their tent was
keeping watch over the strip of golden sand. And, of all days, in the last one!
Next morning, early on, they would leave. The row had started from nowhere,
voices had raised, reproaches enjoyed a very straight approach from her part.
Al had defended himself like a duelist, with a cavalier attitude, without
attacking. Phrases had crossed openly, humorously, in a fight that now, when he
recalled it, was putting a content smile on his face.
It was a real fight!
"We do well even the fights! That's great!", he was thinking,
especially since not long ago he had discovered that they did well the silences
He was a little afraid
that this argument would have a different echo in her mind and in her heart; he
had learned from other stories that it was not a good idea to rely on the
other's sense of humor, and he would not have wanted her to perceive the fact
that he was letting her walk by herself now as a sign of detachment.
He was lying face down in
the sand, under the gentle autumn sun. They had had nice whether. The Old
Frontier was, not only the ending point of a country, it was the beginning of a
world. The expanse of the sea, the seagulls, the sky and the two of them.
"Young master! Let
the gypsy read your future!"
Al stood on his elbows,
then turned to face her. He expected to see an old gypsy woman, but she was a
young girl, with hazel skin, extraordinarily beautiful. She was wearing
traditional clothes, with several skirts and a white cotton shirt. The back of
her head was covered with a cloth embroidered with ruby flowers and green
leaves. Her locks were gathered in two long plaits, twisted back and tied
behind her ears. From each lobe there were dangling copper coins, and she was
wearing a necklace made of red-died small sea twirls. Finally, she was carrying
in her left hand a basket with grapes, on top of which she had placed a single
peach, while two beautifully-crafted purses were tied to her right wrist, one green
and the other yellow. Her nails were polished silver.
The beach was deserted.
There was no trace of Ana.
"Come on, young
master, I'll predict something interesting for you".
"I don't have any
money", tried Al to fend her off.
"Without money! I'll
read for you without money!"
She was proud, the gypsy.
She was holding her head straight, slightly pulled to the back.
"What do you want me
to read for you? The past or the future?"
"The past. For
starters. Then the future. Would you? «With the past, it is easy to check if
she is right. Then I'll see if I keep listening to her rubbish...»"
"Yes, why not",
said the gypsy, as if she started a very serious and complicated business.
She put her basket with
grapes down in the sand.
"Here you are!",
she held out the big, fleshy peach for him.
Al took it.
"Show me your hand
She sat down in the sand,
next to him. From the direction of the bar sounds were no longer coming. A few
seagulls landed close to the fortified building. Far away, at sea, a ship was crawling
lazily, like a snail.
"I'll tell you about
small things that happened to you, without any connection to each other. This
you must understand by yourself. I won't tell you the meaning. Why don't you
"Fine", said Al,
biting into the peach.
She had warm hands, the
gypsy. For a few moments, which to Al seemed out0stretched, she did not say
anything. She only searched the palm of his hand, with her eyes, with her
hands. "What could you say?" He almost regretted that he had spoiled
her game, asking for "the past".
from The Snake’s
Footsteps, T Publishing House,