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9 September 2017

The Winner

Caravaggio's Muse part 1 - Michelle
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Caravaggio's Muse part 2 - Michelle
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Caravaggio’s Muse

by Michelle

My name is Francesco Buoneri. I am standing on a dirty floor, barefoot, as the smell of stale wine coats the inside of my nostrils. My downward gaze glides from my filthy feet to two worn slippers covering the feet of a man. I slide my eyes up the masculine legs, agape and clothed in dirt-smeared tights, peppered with holes and substances unidentifiable to me. My vision is cloudy, but slowly clears as I take in the details of my surroundings. The feet and legs of the man across from me extend into a torso, two arms, a short neck, and the dark, stubbly chin of a contorted face. His mouth is also agape, allowing the escape of a soft, guttural snore and a thin trickle of purple drool which makes its way into the fold of his dirty linen collar. I feel as if this vision should incite in me an ere of disgust, or perhaps, discomfort, but something strange occurs instead. I am overcome with a feeling bordering somewhere between fond affection, animalistic desire, and pity. My heart feels warm, and I am not sure what to do. I am not sure where I am, and for a moment, I can hear a voice somewhere in the air. But it is not my voice—the voice I know to belong to that of one Francesco Buoneri—no, it is a woman’s voice, and it is muffled and strange. I stop and listen for a moment, straining to make out the words.

“Dirty linen collar...”

“Francesco Buoneri...”

“Lui e il mio amore…”

It is as if the female voice is narrating the things I am seeing—and then I remember, for a startling moment, why this is. I am no longer Francesco Buoneri. But I was. And that female voice belongs to me—the NOW me, reclining back in a mauve colored arm chair in an office adorned with pastel art depicting the American southwest. Flashes of the room come back into my mind: hideous ivory colored lacquer furniture, a giant geode resting in the center of a table, the mauve armchair…and another presence. Another woman’s voice is quietly reinforcing my dialogue with reassurances of “yes, perfect. Great, what else?”

What else? I focus back on my dirty feet. The legs of the man, the arms…

My vision leads to a table, a bowl of rotting fruit, a mess of brushes, jars of murky water, a petrified lizard carcass. Then my gaze shifts up and I see a large canvas with the soft outline of a winged figure, which appears to burst forth from dark shadows into blindingly bright light. The painting is captivating. The figure is a boy, appearing no older than fourteen, and I gaze intently at the round, cherubic face and loose brown curls on his head as I reach up to touch my own hair. It is a bit tangled, but soft, and it curls around my fingers the same way it appears in the painting. Is it possible this coy angel is me? His eyes and slight smile appear flirtatious and seductive, as if he is daring his onlookers to come with him to some deviant place. He holds arrows in his right hand, and his left wing curls tauntingly on his leg, drawing my eye to his exposed loins, white and idly resting between his open stance.

I almost expect myself to recoil in shock, but instead, a chuckle bubbles out from my throat as I consider the painting before me. “Scoundrel,” I say out loud—in my Francesco voice this time. “Dirty, dirty scoundrel. Well done.”

I look back at the man snoring grotesquely in the chair before me. His left hand grips an empty bottle of wine, his sword dangles haphazardly at his side, and it now occurs to me that some of the mysterious stains on his tights resemble the hue of blood. If it is his, I see no source for it, but again, the notion of blood stains on his tights does not shock me.

“This is just the way it is,” I hear my female voice say. “It is not shocking to us. We are urchins, deviants— miscreants, misfits—the poor, unholy and unclean. Let them condemn us. The joke is on them, for they cannot stop us from living this way. It may not be my ideal life, but it is how I survive. And this love, whatever it may be, is better than no love at all.”

It is then that I realize I am standing in front of my lover. This—this filthy man with his snoring and stubble, clearly passed out from inebriation, is my master and lover. He is quite a bit older than me, this is for certain. But it does not bother me. I do not know the exact year, but I do know our age does not mean as much in this day as it does in modern times, as we often die young. Especially the poor. Besides, I was eight years old when I took to the streets. My mother could not provide for me, and I knew nothing of my father, so I began picking pockets and looting markets for food. It wasn’t long before I noticed a certain way men had of looking at me. After several years, an unfortunate incident resulting from a botched robbery lead to my involuntary deflowering, and in a state of despair and shame, I threw myself into a gutter for three days. On the third day I met my master.

He was lurching about and swearing over his shoulder at an angry merchant whose cart he had overturned, and as he spewed profanities behind him, he tripped over my legs and landed in the gutter beside me. Having had no food or water in days, combined with the injuries sustained at the hand of my attacker, I winced in weakness and exhaustion. My master squinted intently at me before asking me what the hell I was doing napping in a gutter and tripping innocent passers-by.

“Well, answer me boy!” He spit. “Are you deaf or mute or both?”

I tried to speak but my throat was so dry it burned at the thought. My master sat there, swaying back and forth and squinting at me, before he let out a hiccup and a deep groan. He spent an awkwardly long time attempting to stand before reaching down and grabbing hold of my arm.

“Well come on then, sewer rat. Let’s clean you up.”

How we made it back to his apartment is beyond me. We must have been quite the site, lurching and stumbling through the town square in our soiled and wobbly states. Once reaching our destination, I was allowed to collapse on the small lumpy bed in the corner where I promptly passed out. At some point I awoke to my master holding my head up and pressing some sort of cold porridge to my lips, followed by tepid sips of wine from the bottle. He nursed me back to health like that for several weeks, never once asking me what I was doing reclining in a gutter, or who had injured me or why. I sensed a sort of private respect from him, as if he would not want to be bothered with such questions, and therefore, did not bother me with them. In return, I never bothered to ask why he felt so inclined to help me.

As time went on, the nature and habits of my new master began to take shape. There were days he was drunk and lecherous, knocking about his small apartment like an unhinged madman and entertaining the likes of just about anyone who would tolerate him. These instances were often followed by several days of quiet servitude towards his art, when he would sit for hours on end, masterfully brushing vivid oils onto canvas, all the while muttering indiscernibly to himself. I watched him intently, captivated by the focus and confidence he had toward the canvas; the way his brushstrokes brought figures to life right before my very eyes; the contrast in his use of color, especially shadow and light. His subjects seemed to leap from the scene in a realism I had never before witnessed. There was an urgency to his art. He did not begin with drawings or sketches or anything I had seen other artists doing in the square. On the contrary, he put his brush directly to the fresh canvas and let his subjects come alive of their own volition.

And there was something else I began to notice. As the faces of my master’s subjects began to materialize out of the blank space, they had a certain…familiarity. It was not long before I understood why. Once I had regained my health and strength, my master began looking at me in a most peculiar way. It was not the way the other men in the square looked at me. This look was something I had never encountered before. It was almost curious and thoughtful. Then one day, as I came bursting through the door holding an armful of semi-rotting produce, winded but proud of myself for procuring such a feast, my master stood directly in front of me, and without saying a word, pushed me down in a chair. I was startled at his assertiveness, but his look was not that of anger nor salaciousness, but that of a dreamy trancelike state. He squared my shoulders and pushed my head gently toward the table, turning my face toward the burning oil lamp.

“There! Don’t move,” he said, as his paintbrush dipped excitedly in and out of the small paint pots. He was in the middle of some brutal scene depicting an older, bearded gentleman brandishing a dagger, and a young man roughly my age. And that’s when I saw it. The young man looked suspiciously similar to another boy I had known on the streets growing up—a boy I knew only as Giuseppe. And the old bearded man looked just like one of the merchants we would see in the square. I quickly understood that my master used the people in his every day surroundings as the inspiration for his subjects. This is why they all looked so familiar!

I ate up this notion deliciously. What gall—what absolute audacity my master possessed to do this. It was unheard of! And what’s more, he painted our scandalous, grubby faces into biblical scenes, on the bodies of saints and divine beings. It was a move so bold, so rebellious, it tickled me to my very core. I had long grown jaded and suspicious of the ruling class, magistrates and papal leaders. I knew what went on behind closed, gilded doors because I was a part of that unspoken world, and I witnessed firsthand the money that could be earned in trade for young flesh.

As my neck cramped and my eyes began to burn from the lamp, I grew increasingly aware of my master’s modus operandi. I began to make out words he mumbled to himself as he painted, and his truth revealed itself in the form of a revolutionary style of painting. His dramatized use of shadow and light represented the contradictory nature of our very society. What men said and did were oftentimes in direct opposition, and I found my master’s style depicted this contrast in a most brazen and aggressive way--like secrets emerging from the deepest darkest depths of the human soul into the blinding white light of god. My master held up the brutality of our world as a mirror to the brutality of the biblical scenes he painted. It was as if he dared the commissioners of his art to challenge his point of view. He gave them what they wanted, but he did it HIS way. And he paid homage to those like him by immortalizing them on the canvas. This was his response to those who condemned him and others like him for choosing the lifestyles they lead—for choosing to love differently. My master’s art was expository, evocative and radical. He was a warrior for love, earthly delights and passion. He did not judge others for their proclivities, and therefore he despised being judged for his. Through his paintings, he wished to antagonize the upper class and anyone claiming to be an advocate for chasteness and religious conservatism, because he knew of the hypocrisy of it all. My master was a whistle blower and his paintings were his way of calling bullshit. It was during this realization that I knew I loved him.

I sat for several more of my master’s paintings, excited at the thought of being a muse, and the intimacy in our relationship grew in tandem with the trust we built silently sitting next to each other. Mind you, I am no fool. My master cavorted with all types, and it was well known he had a veritable bevy of courtesans. But this did not bother me. I still did the work I had to do in the alleyways of town and the bedrooms of lusty old men, so my master’s exploits felt an even trade. Besides, our intimate moments were fairly infrequent due to my master’s first love of wine. But we had a deep and silent bond that allowed us to sit and talk for hours, or just share the silence of the small apartment as I watched him work his magic with his brush. Sometimes we would just watch the light from the lamp dance on the wall, and imagine stories it told as it flickered and flared.

I recall all of these things in vibrant flashes as I stare at the angel in the painting before me. The memory of this particular painting is almost too overwhelming. I feel my heart swell as I regard the expression on my likeness’s face. It is as if I can feel the intention of every brushstroke. My master finished this painting only a few years before his passion for drink sent him descending into madness. I tried to go with him to Naples, but I was growing increasingly tired of being on the lamb as a result of my master’s antagonistic behavior and run-ins with the law. I left him one day, in a sudden flash of clairvoyance that our future together was limited, uncertain and likely to be plagued by violence. In fact, I left him just like this, passed out drunk and snoring in a torn velvet chair. It would be nearly half a year before I would hear of his death—mysterious and unexplained, but punctuated by his violent and erratic nature. I never cried.

From there, my memory fades into a cloud of gray smoke before me, and I am once again regarding the painting of my cherubic face, my exposed boyishness and the come hither stare sparkling devilishly in my eyes. I feel hot tears streaming down my face, and I am finding it hard to breathe. It feels as if I am rising off the floor, and I see the entire scene around me fading as the smoke grows grayer, denser.

“Amor vicint omnia,” I hear my female voice saying from the mauve chair. The words sound fragile and anguished, as if they carry the weight of so much suffering within their sounds.

“Amor vicint omnia…” And then, I know their meaning.

“Amor vincit omnia...” Love conquers all.

Honorable Mention

Sir Niac's Birthday - Little O.d.d.
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Sir Niac's Birthday

by Little O.d.d

The spoon and knife to the right I said. How many times must I say it, it needs to be perfect. The forks goes to the left. The spoon is always on the outside.  
Eleanor, the centerpiece needs a little more foliage. Would you mind trimming a few pieces from the courtyard. Please. Thank you. Oh, also please escort Madam to the courtyard with you so she can choose the freshest sprig of basil for this evening. Sir Niac's birthday feast is most important to Madame. She gives thanks to the Lord for creating such an honest man. Her love is endless and pure. I too am thankful for serving such an honorable couple. Madam could never turn her heart of a hungry cry. No young child went without. She is beautiful inside and out.  
Domp! domp! Domp. Crash.... Eleanor? Eleanooorrr!!! Ma'am come quick! She missed a step coming down the stairs. She hit her head quite hard. She fell asleep.  
Time stood forever. My limbs felt as if they turned to stone. I couldn't move. Jonah and Sir Niac too heard the commotion. They both appeared out of nowhere. Joan please wake up. My love please awaken. JOAN!!! Help. Someone please help. Heavenly father, my love. Please father awake her.
I no longer felt paralyzed. I moved swiftly to Madame Joan. "She needs to lay flat," I suggested. Jonah lifting from the top and Eleanor lifting from the feet. Madame was still asleep. "Can you hear me Madame?" No response.  
This cannot be happening. It is far too early for Madam to sleep forever.
Then a voice spoke. "Listen to her breathe." There isn't one. "Lord please help me", I exclaimed. Then it spoke again. Please take both hands in yours. Without hesitation I grabbed Madame hands. Clinching them within mine. As I held her hand, I seen an image of her enjoying tonight's feast.
Madame catapulted up. In a daze questioning what happened. Jonah screams, "Did you see that!" "What did you just do?" Sir Niac in aggreance with Jonah. "Yes, what did you do to wake my beloved?"
I did nothing Sir, it was time for her to wake up. Not true, I witnessed it with my own eyes.  
Jonah decides to mention to Sir Niac the times he witnessed me among the animals. She talks to the animals like they are one of us. I heard her. Our strongest horsemen was down for sometime. I seen her talking with it last evening. It was back carrying loads early dawn.
"Sir shes a witch. " Claimed Jonah. I quickly disagreed. I just wanted Madame Joan to enjoy her evening. I am nobody. I love and care for heavenly father. As he has placed me in the presence of knowing you Sir and you Madame. I will go now if I must. 
You will not be leaving, you shall seat at our table and feast among us. Sir Niac insisted. You have done a service I will be forever grateful for.  
Sir, I did no service. I thank you for offering a seat at your table, but I insist this incident be a mere coincidence. Nothing is special about myself. I live by my faith to do good. I am thankful the Lord has created the stars and light. I love and adore as much as he does . Now we must place Madame comfortably to rest up for the feast.  
I am fine, what are you talking about. Questioned Madame Joan. Silly we are all gathered here. Carry on.  
Sir Niac giggled. You heard the lady. Let's move along.  
Perched lipped Jonah looks at me with sideways eyes. Trying to figure out the magic within me. It's faith Jonah. Now please make sure the napkins are double fold correctly this evening.  

The Castle - Laura
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The Castle

by Laura

It was a dusk as we arrived at the castle. As a young girl, it was a looming stone building. There was nothing from our world to compare it to, even our tiny village could have been put inside these enormous walls. We stopped briefly to speak to the guards, who stared at us with suspicious looks and as they went through our few belongings, we were finally signaled to move ahead. We moved cautiously and headed to where we would be preforming for the King and his Queen. My family were all entertainers and we all had wonderful skills. My brother was a juggler and had amazing powers of slight of hand. My sister and I were dancers and had spent many years working on our most sultry and beautiful movements that flowed into each other and were in perfect unison. The crowds had given us much confidence to our abilities and my parents considered us to be most important to their livelihood.

To dance for royalty! This was the most important performance of our lives. If only I had known just how important it would be. My sister and I squeezed each others hands as they announced that we were next. The scene was like magic and I tried to only focus on the music and my beautiful sister's face. It seemed like the longest moment in time and was gone in an instant. When it was over, we knew from the sound of the applause that we had touched many hearts, flowers flew from the royal couple. My sister and I held each other with tears. It was the happiest moment of my life.

When it was time to be paid. My father went to receive the bag of gold from one of the king's servants. The king had said to pay my father whatever he wanted for me, he was determined that I would be a mistress and a dancer for him. I saw him give my father a large bag of coins. I was ripped from the arms of my sister and taken away as I cried and begged for them to let me go.

I spent many years in a walled off chamber that only the king and a few trusted gentry knew about. The king would visit me on a regular basis and each time I heard the footsteps coming down the corridor. I would have a feeling of dread.

When I was 16, I became pregnant. I did not know what to do and tried to hide it as long as possible. The king stopped visiting as often, and that was the only bright spot that shined for me.

The queen learned about me from a trusted hand servant and when she was told that I was pregnant with the king's child. She was furious and had me taken to the dungeon. I spent my last days there where I will not tell you of the atrocities of torture, rape and finally my welcomed death. My last few thoughts were of my family and my unborn child. A life of beauty and tragedy, but a life nonetheless.

In this lifetime. My father and mother are the king and queen. My sister and I came back as sisters once again. I continued under the abuse of my mother and my sister is still my protector and caregiver. My brother is still funny and comical. I was very protective and would make sure that they did not endure the pain that I experienced. It took me many years to forgive them. I have been on a long journey of learning to love myself and to love them. I feel that it is done.

My Life part 1 - Daniella
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My Life part 2 - Daniella
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My Life, Florence, Italy - 1469 to 1538

by Daniella

It wasn't until I was older that I realised that my family were the fortunate ones; my mother and father, although argued over the littlest of matters, truly loved each other, and my two older brothers were openly confident and respected members of society. It must have been a relief to my parents that my brothers came before me; not only would there be a guaranteed male heir, but the family name would continue. Society at that time was very male-dominated, with the primary belief that males contributed more productively to the growth of society, and the creation of beautiful buildings; they were considered more artistic, whilst also having a more holistic and collective vision of how our society should evolve. The fact that I was the third child, helped to balance the dominant attitudes of our household, I offered both a compassionate supportive role to my father and brothers, whilst assisting with the domestic role of the other females within the household, I was a useful addition to the family, but not in a way where I entirely appreciated it at the time.

There was only about two years between my eldest brothers; Antonio was born on the 13th October 1460 and Giseppi the 10th April 1462. I was arguably a mistake, but as there was no available contraception at that time; nor would any such methods be formally acknowledged within a strong Catholic society, abstinence was the safest form of birth control. My name is Margarite, I was born on the 11th of September 1469 in my family home, in Florence, Italy.

My father, Giovanni Alberti Mazzanti was a well-respected banker within the city, he spent a lot of his time working at the bank, or with his colleagues at the local club; most of his business would be conducted away from our home, either at the bank or at the club, and although he had an office at home, tended to use it for his own respite from his busy social and business life, for times of solitude, he said it was a space for him to think. Rarely would visitors come to the house for business purposes, and if they did come uninvited, my father would send them on their way, not indulging in any conversations relating to work. Our household would only tolerate visitors, visiting for a purely social nature, and usually had to be formally invited, casual visitors were discouraged as my father was a relatively private man, and didn't relish in, what he considered, an unnecessary invasion of his private home by gossiping socialites. My father, although not in charge of the bank was considerably respected and ran areas relating in imports and exports of goods such as wine, olive oil and other food products, he would often discuss his ventures over dinner with my brothers, and although these were not conversations I would be encouraged or invited to participate in, I would listen with intense interest in his experiences, and more generally, in life outside of the home, a home to which I spent the majority of my days.

Father, although he loved both brothers equally, was very much less tolerant of, or in fact understood Giseppi. Giseppi for many hours would lock himself away in his studio painting; he would paint people, objects and scenes from memory, in fact, anything he could visualise both physically and through his captured imagination. Giseppi had a genuine talent for city scenes of movement, and people, and this would ultimately be his focus later in life.

Antonio however was more like my father, and much more academic in nature. Antonio studied building structures, engineering and designs, and would create such fantastic design structures, which later would be interpreted by the respected government appointed architects of the time, buildings of which are still standing in Florence City to this day. Both my brothers’ interests and passions were indulged and encouraged by my parents. To a lesser degree, I was also supported by my family to investigate my natural skills and talents in painting and needlework, my talents however were restricted to displays within the household, and not presented to society. My expectations of living in such a loving family would not however bare out in later years, where my future life and roles were far from being as secure in nature, or as luxurious to that which I knew, nor in fact to which I had become accustomed.

As with my mother Maria, our role within the household was wholly a domestic one; we were fortunate to have Selina to help with many chores, and Roberta was our cook. Antonio's wife and his children, who also lived with us within our large home took on some chores, but focused mainly of the rearing of my two nephews. It was a busy household, with much noise and laughter, But despite this, I longed for my own household, my own personal space and my own family, to captain my own ship, to navigate my own life, breaking free to build a life no longer in the shadow of my parents or siblings.

I was just 16 when I was bestowed to be married, I say bestowed, as I later realised that this was nothing really to do with my feelings or wishes, but I was a gift, from my wealthy respected family, for a trading deal between my father and my betrothed. It was at a cousins wedding where I met Alberto, he was a handsome charming man of some years my senior; his first wife had died and he was childless; he had the most beautiful smile and the kindest of faces with a witty nature that made me laugh, and I was soon to fall in love, or so I thought. As a naive 16 year old this was the first man I had met in such a relaxed environment, and was later to realise that society, even at that time, was polluted with charming men in fine silks and wonderful surface manners, designed to seduce any female who was innocent to the ways of the world. Now I say that this was the first man that I met, it was … my cousins wedding was the first time I was out in society and I was mesmerised by such a beautiful affair, to which the whole family attended, great celebration and fine wines were consumed making Alberto Gambini possibly seem more charming then he actually was, notwithstanding that, he came from a good family of merchant traders, and was respected, it was a good societal match, and the wishes of my father for me to be married to Alberto, as soon as possible, along with the dowry being offered, seemed to seal the deal!

Our short engagement led to our wedding day on the 16th June 1486, it was a glorious celebration where silver brocades, rich coloured velvets and fine silks, imported from all over the world made our wedding outfits unforgettable, along with the finest wedding feast and most treasured wines; the celebration lasted for many hours going on into the night, festivities were comparable to those held, at the time, by the most important noblemen; and was possibly the subject of many future conversations from admirers all over the city, commenting on the beauty of the celebration and of our public displays of wealth.

This merriment did not last long. Alberto's facade of being the perfect gentleman slipped within days of our wedding, he became controlling and obnoxious, shouting at anyone that got in his way. He would drink all day turning his daily initial merriment into hatred and anger, often sitting for hours weeping mournfully into his hands for no apparent reason.

Within a year of our marriage Guliano was born, a beautiful baby boy who seemed to help to ease Alberto's internal anguish, if only for a short time Having only lived in Alberto's familial home for the past 11 months, the additional pressure of child rearing ultimately added to the abusive relationship I was being subjected to, having less time to attend to my husband’s needs and that of the household caused more tension and frustrations, the house felt so miserable with a heavy authoritative air of contempt. Alberto's father Victor was a harsh man and, similar to Alberto in nature, would flare-up like a stricken match if the atmosphere was toxic enough, often smashing glassware or other objects in retaliation of each other's comments; occasionally they would scuffle, and what could be a simply disagreement over a trade account, would lead to black eyes and swollen knuckles. Alberto was an only child, and his mother Rosanna although tolerant of their behaviour, was also an unforgiving lady that did not ever enter into any of the disagreements of the household, she was very meek in nature, and showed little compassion for any one.

This was not the same household structure as my parental home, there was no laughter or love, there was only anger and violence, my only happiness and solitude, away from raised voices was through spending time, in the nursery, with Guliano. It was expected that, along with Rosanna, I would help maintain the household, working in servitude within the home, with no external help, this was hard as, similar to my own father, non-family members were unwelcome within this home, but in this case, it also extended to domestic help. My own family were also considered non-family and they were discouraged in visiting, I had not received a visit from my mother, sister-in-law or brothers for many months. My marital home was so much smaller than my own families, it was downtown and closer to the docks, but far enough away to remain respectable, this meant however that it was considered unsafe for me to leave the home to go for a walk or to visit my own family on the other side of town, so any outings meant that I had to be accompanied by either my husband or a suitable companion, thereby resulting in further isolation and solitude.

I spent many hours with only Guliano as company and I was no longer encouraged to paint or indulge in any fine arts, in fact it was frowned upon, and if I had any spare time after looking after Guliano and attending my daily chores, then I was only encouraged to read and further educate myself through learning the accounting system for the business that both Alberto and his father owned.

Guliano died when he was only 3 years and 4 months old. The doctor diagnosed a form of influenza, although I later learnt that it was in fact more likely to be the 'English Sweating sickness’ a disease that was not recognised or recorded within Italian society as ever touching its shores; possibly through ignorance, or as an official statement, engineered to protect the citizens from further mass hysteria as was generated in previous years by the Black Death. The 'English Sweating sickness' had most likely spread from England, by sailors and ship rats, attacking the most vulnerable, but this was all speculation, whatever the sickness was, a sickness reached our shores taking many lives. Alberto's mother soon contracted the disease and died within days of Giuliano death. Expecting support from my own family, I received a note from my father expressly forbidding anyone from my household to go to theirs. This was a time where I needed the support of my family, and although understood that they did not wish the disease to spread throughout their household; with Alberto and his father mourning the loss of his mother and wife, and of his son and grandson, there seemed to be no one who had compassion or empathy for me and my loss of my beautiful little boy.

Our relationship changed after this, Alberto seemed to blame himself for the death of both Guliano and his mother, and although we were never close, our relationship as it was, deteriorated further. I had no more children, my loss of Guliano seemed to make me emotionally barren and distant, not wanting or longer requiring the physical or emotional companionship from my husband, who often accused me of being insane and an unfit mother, to which I allowed; I allowed the release of his pain, blaming me for the death of our son. I never reacted, nor challenged him at this time, but simply pitied him.

I took over the company accounts following Rosanna's death, as it was expected. I also, for my own understanding looked more closely into the running of the business and learnt more about the business then Alberto realised. I no longer tolerated Alberto's father intolerance of me, he was older now and a little weak, mentally worn out after Rosanna's passing; if I am honest, I used that weakness as my strength.

There was no option for divorce in those days, and having a loveless marriage lead my husband to seek companionship with the many women that frequented the docks at night. I lost all patience and compassion for him, and for his open infidelity and demanded respect; he was drinking a lot more than he had historically consumed and one night, when he returned home after a night of debauchery, he presented himself within my chambers, and after some shouting and screaming regarding my failures as a wife and of not protecting my child, I retaliated, screaming and shouting commenting, not only on his impetuous unforgiving ways, but of his shear failure to be a supportive husband, father and man, I demanded him out of my chambers, he left momentarily looking bewildered, only to return within a few moments wielding a knife, as I screamed, his father appeared behind him, grabbing Alberto's arm that was brandishing the knife, they scuffled out, towards the top of the stairs, and as Alberto stabbed his father up through the stomach, his father fell to his death, hitting his head on the marble tiled floor at the foot of the stairs. I would like to think that taking Alberto with him to his death was Victor's way of putting things right, and preventing Alberto from causing me any further pain or suffering.

My family, now aware of my potential fortune, supported me throughout the inquest, at that time it was not usual for a female to be a beneficiary of any estate, and the courts lawyers desperately tried to find any other male surviving members of the Gambini family, so many gentlemen presented themselves as cousin or second uncles of Alberto, but none of which could be substantiated. After some months, It was agreed, uncharacteristic that with the support of my father and eldest brother, and as the only surviving member of the Gambini family that I continued to run the business in the absence of both Alberto and Victor, and that I would only remain the custodial of the assets, until such a time, a male heir was found. I successfully ran the business right up until my death on 31st December 1538, whilst helping young women from the docks change their lives, not having to tolerate men such as my husband for their survival, I took in orphans of all ages and through the many years I survived my husband and father in law, found these years the most happiest, and most fulfilling of my entire life. I of course missed Guliano, but I never wished to marry again, despite the many offers and proposals that I subsequently had … a wealthy widow, is always an attractive proposition!

Isabella and Gino - Angele
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Isabella and Gino

by Angele

Isabella is joyously walking, so excited to visit the museum, she is always accompanying her grandpa on his journeys. Oh Grandpa Ferdi was always so enamoured with Isabella since before she was even born. He was so excited for her birth so he could meet her. 

Isabella had a great appetite for knowledge and loved to learn. Her bright sparkling eyes wondered everywhere in awe of all the beautiful trees and flowers, also the beautiful architecture and art. Grandpa Ferdi did his best to guide and teach Isabella about life, humanity, history, spirituality ,music and arts.

Today the sun and Isabella's eyes seem to sparkle a little brighter, she was so excited for grandpa's stories about beautiful paintings she was going to see at the museum. Grandpa sure knew how to make learning fun.

Suddenly she gets distracted there's is a boy staring in their direction. He must find grandpa's story fun too (Isabella thought to herself) Isabella (usually so shy) decided to make a hand sign with boy to come closer so he could listen better. The boy became so nervous and clumsy letting his paper and pencil fall on the floor. Come hand signalled Isabella. Me!? The boy signalled at himself. YES! Nodded Isabella a little frustrated because she is missing part of the story but she really wanted the boy to join them.

Slowly the boy walked in their direction. It was an amazing day they learned so much. Grandpa is great story teller isn't he? My name is Isabella... (the boy all nervous stuttered his name) I'm Gino ....hi boy (said grandpa Ferdi)

You're interested in arts too? Uhmm ye yes sir (stuttered Gino) I love to draw and Paint sir.

Oh that's amazing boy, hope you enjoyed my stories. Well very much so sir..thank you. Nice meeting you boy. Isabella It's time to leave, we already stayed an hour extra.

They all said good bye and went their way.

But on other trips to the museum they have met again and again. And so began the friendship between Gino and Isabella.

As grandpa got sick trips to the museum where no longer possible with the consequence that Isabella could no longer meet Gino creating a distance in their friendship and with the passing of grandpa Ferdi it seemed like the end of it too.

Years go by and Isabella always wondered about this boy from the museum specially when she reminisced about those wonderful times with grandpa. She wondered if he became a great artist as he wanted to become but how will she ever find out. She was always consumed by racing heartbeat, nostalgia and sadness whenever her thoughts wandered through those times at the museum. 

She grew up to be a very intelligent, humble and lovely lady, always so concerned about humanitarian affairs & the wonders of life.

Eager to learn to better understand the problems of mankind, the world and the universe. But she lived in a period where woman had very limited opportunities and freedom to be able to explore all of these areas. Who are we? Why are we here? Why is power and money of most importance to people? So many questions she didn't understand at times like this she wished grandpa was still alive to guide her and teach her. 

And as she walk through the garden she listened to a voice talking to her father. She doesn't know why but this voice felt like so familiar, how could that be? 

Isabella decided to take a look to what was happening. Oh her father is meeting with another artist, he's a painter and her dad seem so interested so he must be a good one. 

Isabella came from a very wealthy family and her father patrons new artist, some of them became very famous. She wondered who he was, why her dad seemed so interested in him, will he become a famous one too? Or maybe he already was, did he bring a painting she wondered what they look like, what type of style he had. 

As all of these thoughts where going through her head the guy look in her direction. Isabella froze in shock that she was caught snooping around. The guy smiled and Isabella became even more nervous and turned and walked away. This guy felt so familiar to her and she couldn't get him out of her head. Who was he? Will he come back? She couldn't go ask dad about him. And so these thought kept revolving through Isabella’s head all day long.

A few weeks go by and all thought left her head she seems to hears that voice again.Is it? Is it him again? She summoned in her balcony to be able to see but she couldn't see no one. So she decided to go down the stairs and there he was father has invited him in. Hi my darling we have a visitor today joining us for dinner (father says) He is staying for dinner!? (Isabella thinking to herself) and so as they enjoyed dinner together Isabella was properly introduced to this Gentleman named Gino. Could it be? After all these years? Yes! It was him! That is why Isabella felt a connection with him since she heard his voice and so they told father about grandpa's stories at the museum. 

A new chapter has flourished in their reuniting friendship as father has patroned Gino and he was a regular guest at home.

But life as an artist specially a famous one has it's shadows long hours of work, demand for more and unique art, encounters with models for painting, all brought a toll to the relationship between Gino and Isabella. So even though they were so enamoured with each other things began to fall apart and there was this distance once more...

Over the years they have met multiple times and as soon as their eyes met they felt this instant connection. But it seemed that there were always obstacles keeping them together and as relationship between father and Gino Diminished so did the connection between them even more. Isabella even heard that he got married and his wife was expecting a baby. 

Looking at this beautiful painting she hears this voice again as she turned she saw Gino it was his painting as they talked they connected so deeply sitting in the museum like when they first met such an amazing feeling till Isabella confirmed the rumors. He had married and is now a father, yet she still had this joyous heartfelt feeling for him and she could feel and see in his eyes that so did he. As they part ways that day Isabella kept wondering if she ever will see him again. And why she could feel so much? And why they couldn't have been more than just friends? Where all the obstacles a warning that it want meant to be or was it a test to see how much they really wanted to be together and what they were willing to do about it? Why didn't they talked about their feelings? Why did none of them declared their love? Well Gino did steal a kiss when they were younger.. but that was silly kids’ stuff ( (Isabella trying to put things into perspective) So many questions , so many feelings just like all the other questions about the mysteries of life she always seemed to have since a young girl of six holding his grandpa's hand accompanying him on his wonderful journeys. 

Will I ever meet him again, will I have the courage to say something? Is it too late? Will I ever understand why we felt so much yet could not be together.

The Wife of a Doctor - Rosemary
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The Wife of a Doctor

by Rosemary

In my regression with a South American medicine woman 40 years ago, I was the wife of a doctor many centuries ago in Greece. As a physician he was highly educated and though we could have lived closer to an urban academic hub, he was needed among a group of villages to care for the people. We relocated and bought a home as basic shelter and some land for farming on a rocky hillside that overlooked the Aegean Sea.  

We hired people to tend to the farming and maintained a large herbal garden for the remedies needed in my husband’s medical practice. I assisted him in his practice and he educated me as an herbalist, and taught me to set broken bones, dress wounds, act as a midwife and counsel the community when needed all while maintaining his code of ethics in respecting the privacy of the towns people. Women did not train as doctors but were often taught by doctors to be nurse practitioners with the scarcity of medical doctors.  

We had 2 children and lived simply but were definitely of much greater means compared to others in the area. Our land was lush and productive, our relationship was deeply loving and committed. We were happy and were living purposeful lives.  

There were military conflicts throughout Greece with some towns becoming increasingly corrupt with opposing forces seeking control.  As cold, raw sea air approached military forces came and abducted my husband claiming he was needed to care for the opposition leaders and troops. 

Among the towns people, my husband was presumed dead. Women had little influence in the eyes of the law and the increasingly corrupt local government wanted to seize our land. As a headstrong woman in a patriarchal society determined to maintain my home for my husband’s return I simply refused to comply with local authorities and managed to keep the corrupt local government at a distance by insisting my husband was alive and remained the property owner.   

Despite my husband was presumed dead and I a widow, I did not agree and steadfastly maintained belief in his return and refused to wear black as was customary at the time but instead I wore same simple, neutral tone dresses as I had before. 

With my husband’s abduction and my being seen as a widow in the eyes of the community and a single mother to my two sons some whispered, some laughed in my continuing my life as I did prior to his disappearance. Over the years the parish priest would turn up occasionally and with much hand ringing ask that I wear black out of respect for my dead husband which was often under the guise that I treat his rather suspicious rash.   

My sons would have been able to assume ownership of family property if they were of age to tend the land. Since that wasn’t the case the locate government continued to threaten to seize my land. After years of my refusals, the local authorities continued to bristle at the idea of a woman owning property. Ultimately I prevailed with the help of a judge who was a friend of my husband. The judge’s prevailing logic was there was no proof my husband was dead and since I continued a more basic medical practice with my knowledge of herbal remedies and maintained a mature medicinal garden that needed to tended for my to practice that I should be allowed to retain my husband’s property ownership until his return. 

My genuine belief was my husband was alive and remained detained because educated physicians were few and far between and very much needed in areas of military conflict.  My sense was with his keen intelligence and kind manner he would do as needed to keep himself alive with an eye toward being released at some point. I didn’t want to leave the area although I had other educated suitors in marriage. I remained in my home for my husbands return knowing that if he were to be released he would return to me. I didn’t want to relocate or remarry in that event.


Even with a judgement in my favor as a woman living alone with 2 children on highly valuable land I had issues with drunken men appearing late at night wanting to sexually assault me. In defiance I played on their fears and ignorance, managing to remain safe with my vivid assertions of the bad luck that would follow their dark thoughts, demanding they leave.

My husband was a gentle loving man and the idea of any man thinking he could take me was out of the question. I would not be defiled by these men.

Over time the many instances of men’s failed attempts to overtake me were through my own actions and those of divine intervention increasingly created a folklore as my being a deity with the protection of the Gods. With my continuing to prevail in my ownership of the land and to remain faithful to my husband, men became increasingly afraid to set foot on my land at night and in time gave up.

Random acts kept men away with intervention by natural forces. Owls, other birds and animals attacked after dark, rain, landslides, lightening etc. to the point, men feared to come near my property at night fearing some sort of supernatural divine protection.  I was determined to remain pure for my husband’s return fearing if our loving bond were to be broken he would not return. 

Over the years I worked hard to maintain the land and a livelihood until my sons were of age to assume lawful ownership of our property. Each of my sons followed their father into medicine to be of service to people as their father was. 

The regression ended so I do not know if my husband ever returned though thoughts of this deep and true love linger and await the fulfilment of his return.

The Lesson - Alisa
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The Lesson

by Alisa

Post traumatic transformation is a term that best describes why I personally wrote this soulful story.  

This is a story about a mother and daughter’s journey on reclaiming their karmic debt and re-aligning their original blue print. 

As most magical stories start!

Once Upon A Time….

During the 1400’s in a small town in Italy near Florence somewhere near the Adriatic Sea lived a woman named Rose. She was Italian and Irish. Had pale skin and raven long hair. You can tell just by looking at her that she had lived many lives. A wise woman, healer and light worker of some sort. She had one child, a daughter named Miladra (pronounced ME-LA-DRA) mixed decent, young, vibrant and full of life. Strong, very adventurous and worldly. A lover of Gaia and all of her beauty. 

Rose had worked for the King & Queen as a head cook. She has had this position for over 20 years now. Miladra had become very close to the royal family gaining many friendships throughout the court over the years. Miladra had always been a curious one. One to always venture off and explore the unknown tunnels of the kingdom or go where others wouldn’t dare to go. Miladra was raised by her single mother all of her life. Her father parted ways abruptly & never came back. That left Miladra bitter towards men at times in her life & left her feeling abandoned. Her mother never re-married or courted with any man since her (Miladra’s) father left. It was like this unspoken silence that never seemed to fade away. 

One day while wandering through the castle's garden Miladra noticed a man burning something on fire. She walked toward him and saw he was dressed in what seemed to look like tribal attire. Something she never saw before. She was a bit weary approaching him but she also felt a sort of comfort walking towards him. Like she felt this energy before as if the man and her had a connection of some sort. As she drew closer to the smell that happen to remind her of burnt sage. Sage was something her mother would burn from time to time to bless their home and rid it of evil spirits. As her eyes gazed into his it was as if time stood still and nothing else mattered but that moment. As Miladra approached the man she was a bit shy and hesitant.  She asked the man “Excuse me Sir, May I ask what it is that you are doing?” Then he spoke with a deep voice. A sound that felt familiar. He told Miladra that “He was performing a Sacred Ceremony”. 

From that moment on Miladra and the man became friends. The man’s name was Anibal. Prounounced (A- KNEE- BALL) He was from the Dominican Republic but had lived in Italy since he was a teenager. He was adopted right out of his home country as a young boy. He is the Queens “Go To Guru”, a “Magic Man” of sorts. In the 1400’s they called this era a time of REBIRTH.  This was a great time of transformation and growth. People like Anibal were kept secret because of the skills he had. Such as witch craft and white magic. Anibal was a light worker and one day while The Queen’s parents where visiting the Dominican Republic on one of their many trips around the world they stopped through a small village where Anibal lived. He came from a very poor family so his living quarters were small but kept clean. The Queen’s mother was having health complications at this time and was very sad and depressed. Anibal was declared a Guru, a Touched One, a Blessing of some sort in his home town. After The Queen’s mother spent a short moment with Anibal the Queen’s mother had this renewed energy about herself. Her spirit was uplifted and a new found HOPE came about her. The Queen’s mother asked to adopt Anibal and ever since then Anibal has been the Queen’s Mother, Guru & Light Worker that she kept close at hand. Not many people knew of him he was a kept secret. During the 1400’s during this time of rebirth there was a lot of conflict with in religions. Anything out side of that box was considered pagan and magic. That scared people which made Anibal’s practice even more of a secret. 

Miladra began a friendship with Anibal to where it was like she was his student and he was the teacher. Almost like a father figure. Something that Miladra had lacked for many years since she was a little girl when her father left her and her mother. The Queen’s mother created a sacred chamber at the bottom of the castle to where it took a few secret passageways to get to its actual location. Only The Queen’s mother & Father along with The Queen and King and certain royal guards were aware of its location. Anibal told Miladra that he would get in trouble if anyone in the royal family found out that a head cooks daughter knew where his chambers were. That Miladra and her mother would be in grave danger due to the fact that the Queen’s mother was very protective and jealous of Anibal. The Queen’s mother felt Anibal’s magic was for her and for her alone. Anibal felt very blessed to have been able to live a life of abundance when it came to being a member of the royal family. Even though at times Anibal felt more of a servant rather than an actual son. 

Miladra didn’t understand why she felt a yearning to be around Anibal. Miladra mentioned Anibal to her mother and thats when things changed between her mother & herself from that moment on. Miladra was very close to her mother. This was a relationship like no other. Soul Mates, Twin Flames! Miladra and Rose had always had a fair life but there were times of struggle and heart ache and through those times Miladra and Rose created a bond of love. Rose expressed to Miladra that she had to stop seeing Anibal because he was her father. If the Queens Mother found out about Miladra and Anibal they all would be dead. 

Miladra then became very mad and extremely depressed which caused her to stay in bed to where she then became very ill. One day Rose told Miladra that she had a visitor. When Miladra looked up from her bed to see who it was she saw it was the Princess. The Princess during that short visit explained to Rose & Miladra that Anibal was ordered to be killed and that Rose and Miladra would be killed as well. The Princess loved Miladra very much and wanted to be the one to bare the horrible news. There was no escape. Rose told Miladra that she had nothing to fear. That death was heaven it was our connection to God our Divine Source. That I was her mother in another life and that we are Soul Mates, Twin Flames and that we will never part. 

The night before Rose & Miladra where scheduled to get hung that last night on earth was the most beautiful moment Rose & Miladra had with one another ever. Rose apologized that night for not telling Miladra about Anibal. Rose told her that they had a love affair 18 years ago and they both knew if the Queens mother found out about them that they would both be dead & that she can't believe it took this long to finally set the energy free. 

Anibal disappeared that evening nowhere to be found.

The morning of Rose & Miladra's hanging there was a stillness in the air. Rose & Miladra held hands while being hung & then burned. When the fire was set to the both of them hundreds of white butterflies flew around them & you could smell fresh lavender in the air. Moments after their death Anibal came to where they were killed. The Queens Mother was there right as Anibal arrived. He ran up onto the platform where their bodies lay. He took a bag and filled it with their ashes & rode off into the night. The Queens mother let him go & never bothered him again. The next day Anibal set up camp deep in the forest. He prepared a sacred ceremony for Rose & Miladra & set their spirits free by freeing them of any karmic debt they may have had especially with him. He knew that his life purpose was to give Miladra life. He knew Miladra would be best raised by Rose & would eventually come around him when the time was right. After he realized what had transpired Anibal asked God to free Rose & Miladra of any pain & to help their spirits start anew. Later that day Anibal packed up and journeyed off into the unknown. Never speaking about the details of what happened but also never forgetting about his true tribe family & never forgetting about his daughter Miladra. His reason for continuing to be a light worker. His reason for this lesson and for now his ascension. 

Le Rinascite Di Esperanza: L'estratto I

(The Rebirths of Esperanza: The Excerpt I)

by Arian

I. La Regressione (The Regression)

I am sinking deeper and deeper to this void like universe of

pitch black depth with millions of dancing shiny stars around

me. Some of them would flash a rainbow of color on an angle

like the sunlight flashed through a colored glass. Besides

the bewilderment of where I really am, this is such beautiful

whimsical place. The darkness can be eerie but those stars

makes me feel safe, like little windows of light.

I am enveloped by these whirls of white mist like a soft cloak

as I descend and when I look down, I can only see my feet and

the mist underneath me. When I thought that there’s no end

to this tunnel, I felt sand under my feet but I can not see

any sand beneath me for it’s covered with the thick white mist

that carried me here. I bent a little to touch the ground and

grasp a bit of sand in my hand through the mist. After picking

some sand, I straightened my back then looked what I have in

my hands, in my hands is like grounded up mirror-no it’s like

really microscopic crystals as tiny as a grain of sand. I let

the sand slide down my hand then back to the ground. It is

so mesmerizing that my jaw is just ajar at how beautiful the sand looks like slowly falling back to the ground. It caught

the lights from the stars and it reflected the same light.

I followed the direction of the reflected light and saw that

the sand is somehow forming an object in the middle of this


The crystal sand is dancing in a clockwise motion. The object

that it is materializing is starting to form from the middle

outwards. At first it was just a see through round glass and

it became bigger and bigger in circumference then stopped.

I came closer to inspect what is this glass is all about. When

I thought that it was done materializing, golden vines emerged

and framed now what I think is a mirror. The vines continued

to grow thicker framing the mirror and soon I saw small buds

of flowers growing around the frame. These little buds grew

bigger and bigger in front of my eyes then gradually bloomed

as golden roses.

As if the crystal sand is not enough then there came these

golden roses that looks so alive. That if metal can be roses

that can bloom from the ground then these roses are it. I moved

closer to inspect the reflection but it wasn’t reflecting me

or anything at all. It’s pitch black. I touched the surface of the mirror and it rippled to an image.

It’s not an image but in fact a room. A humble home furnished

home which looks antique but it’s gleaming. There is a woman

sitting on a chair and in front of her is a desk that has a

vase of lavender in it. Her loose long curly hair is red like

flames and with the sun coming from the window, it looks like

she is burning. She seems to be writing something on a book

but perhaps it’s some sort of notebook, maybe a diary.

Without knowing I am inside the very room where this woman

is and when I tried to look at my back I see a wooden door

instead of a mirror and the pitch black space full of stars.

I can feel my heart beating faster.

I started hearing this voice say that I approach this woman

and I did.

‘You now see the person that you were.

This person have the answers that you seek.’

This woman is the person that I was?

I touched her right shoulder. She briskly turned around looked

straight at me in the eye with a fright. I can feel her heart

beating as fast as mine. Beating as one. She is white as a marble and has a soft oval slightly chiseled

face with piercing round brown eyes framed with red lashes.

Below her tall upturned nose is a full set of red lips. Her

neck is adorned small round pendant with a round amethyst in

the middle, surrounding it are tiny light green stones that

I am not familiar of. The necklace itself seems to be rolled

leather fine enough to aesthetically match the pendant.

Her dress is a plunging neckline layered empire cut long dress

cinched by a belt. It shows a little too much to be desired

for my taste but she pulls it off tastefully.Layered beneath

her dress looks like a camisole with slight ruffle details

finished with long sleeves.

Just when I thought time is frozen for a moment she stood up

from her chair and faced me now standing up. She is towering

a head higher of me. I am breathless.

What should I ask her that I have to know, I have no clue.

I am indeed seeking for answers but I don’t know my questions.

Right now, I just know that this woman was me. To know my

questions then I have to be her.

‘You are now her. What is your name?’ hands with tears on her eyes. ‘I am terribly sorry for what

happened, child. You are safe now’

With nonna gently stroking my hands made me burst into tears

that I didn’t cry. I cried like a little girl would have cried.

I cried like it would bring mama and papa back but they’re

gone forever.

‘Guiseppe? Nonna where is Guiseppe?’ I asked. Nonna was silent

for a moment. ‘Guide me to him please, nonna? I still can’t

stand properly’

I jumped out of bed and felt a jolt from my feet as it touched

the stone floor. Nonna and I slowly walked the hallway and

to a room where Guiseppe was.

When nonna opened the door and I saw Guiseppe badly injured

and covered with bandages, my heart sank. It was my fault.

He was trying to save me and he paid the price for me.

I let go of nonna and tried to run to him but I tripped and

I couldn’t stand up, so I crawled until I reach his bed. I

used the bed to stand up and see him properly. Nonna told me it has been 3 days since we came that rainy night.

Guiseppe carried me until nonna’s doorstep and passed out

before he could say a word. He got shot at the left shoulder

and another on his right leg. It wasn’t severe but he lost

a lot of blood. Sadly, she said that it would be impossible

for him to recover to the way like he used to.

Nonna had a cabinet full of medicinal herbs and spices for

fever and infection. She claimed that she did everything but

it was already out of her hands.

I don’t want to cry anymore but I couldn’t stop myself. I had

never felt so helpless in my life that someone had to suffer

for me.

‘Guiseppe’, I called on to him holding his hand.He deliriously

woke up and held my hand that held him, ‘Signorita’ he smiled

‘I told you, you can call me Esperanza. Besides, I am no longer

a ‘signorita’’, I smiled back at him like the way we were at

the stables, feeding the horses and dreaming of dreams. ‘Live,

Signorita. Live your life. Live a happy life’ he held my hand


‘I will live of course! I am alive!’ ‘Promise me, signorita. Don’t worry nonni will take care of

you and teach you what they know. You have to promise me, you

will live that you will always be happy’

I said that I will never cry anymore but I was crying, I nodded.

I could feel him holding my hand tighter, ‘You have to tell

me that you promise, signorita!’

‘I promise Guiseppe. I will live my life. I will be happy.

I will be-’ before I could finish the word, he let go of my

hand, closed his eyes took his last breath.

It’s been 5 years since my family’s death, including Guiseppe.

It was hard at first but I always remember what I promised

to Guiseppe before he passed away. I am learning to heal using

medicinal herbs like how nonna does and everyday I keep getting

better and better.

I changed my name to the name nonna chose for me, ‘Diana Russo’.

I asked why ‘Diana’, she said that she is the ‘goddess of the

moon, her deity and of the ancestors before her. My skin like

that of moonlight especially when it’s full moon.

From then on I used the name ‘Diana Russo’ whenever I have

to trade herbs at the mercato. Everyday I live my life as Diana Russo a long distant grand daughter of Oriana and Amadeo

Castellana of Siena and slowly Esperanza Aurelia de

Villalobos-Salviati of Iberia fades away.

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