Marion was revising her anatomy course. Lying in the hammock under the lime tree in the castle’s park, she softly recited the names of hand bones in Latin like a strange rosary…
However, she still managed to take out her phone, during her revision of the anularius and the digitus minimus, in order to Google and find out more about… The Storks!
“These are migratory birds that travel thousands of kilometers” said Wikipedia. Was there really a country without storks? Where did this Max come from, who spoke French just like her, without any accent, but who would sometimes came up with strange expressions?
It was nap time, just after lunch. For Max, he had already almost forgotten about Marion. He met new people so often… he spoke to strangers with incredible ease, it was natural for him, however, it was more difficult for him to make real friends, to find someone who resembles him.
His grandfather was doing a crossword, sitting quietly on the porch, so quiet in fact, that he would sometimes fall asleep, while his grandmother, unable to sit or rest after a lifetime of constant working, came and went in the house, emptying closets so that she can properly reorder them later again.
It was siesta time, his grandmother would say, an hour that would stretch like a cat stretches in the sun, and that made you want to dream.
“Where are you from?” Marion’s question came back knocking on the door of his memory… It took him back in time, running towards his mother in a public park shouting: “Mom, where do I come from? Where do I come from?” and he still remembered his mother’s philosophical answer:
– It depends… who’s asking?
– The lady over there…
He had designated the mother of a little girl he was playing with at the slide, an African American woman.
– Tell her you’re French then. Say “I come from Paris…I’m French!”
Actually, although Max was born in Paris, to a French mother, he left his homeland at the age of three with his parents and sister, and that was the start of a never-ending hectic tour around the world. He had attended fifteen different schools, had experienced more than thirty “homes sweet homes” and spoke four languages.
Back alone on vacation with his grandparents, he respected the “siesta” tradition as it satisfied his thirst of getting to know the “ways” of these people, his family; the nap time after lunch, that was something he enjoyed.
The door to his room burst open and his grandmother entered, carrying a small box covered in leather. Each time she came in, she would be surprised for a moment to find him there, then she would smile, the smile of an old lady that enjoys seeing youth.
-Stay comfortable, she told him, while he pretended to get up, its good you’re here, enjoy, rest…
– What’s that box? He asked.
– The jewel box of my mother… you want to see?
She sat beside him on the bedspread.
– You see, these are her jewels, a brooch decorated with turquoise, a necklace made of pearls, a golden bracelet… and that’s a diamond ring, a small one, but nevertheless, has a great value, but I wouldn’t want to sell it, it was the ring her mother gave to her. She had lost her mother at a very young age, died of the Spanish flu… and right here, the earrings of aunt Olga…who died in the concentration camps in Germany.
-Olga? That’s Russian, isn’t it?
– Yes, her parents were communists, that’s probably why her parents gave her that name… it has not brought her luck, the poor thing…
Everything that sounded Russian had a special echo to Max. She was Russian too, that student that filled his dreams, and she had gone back to her family in Moscow since the start of the academic year. He wondered if he would ever see her again one day…
– Do you want me to give you a family jewel? It will be your wife’s one day. At your age, your grandfather had two kids already!
And that’s how Max found himself with, in the palm of his hands, a small box of jewelry containing two black pearls set in gold, the earrings belonging to aunt Olga… he kissed his grandmother thank you.
From the living room, rose the sound of an acoustic guitar. Max joined his grandfather, who always marked the end of his “siesta” by putting a record on the old record player that sat in the living room for ages, and on that day, it was the record of an old Spanish singer. The familiar Castillan sound filled the room: “Soy el fuego que arde tu piel…” the siesta was over…