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A Dot In Time

She waited, leaning with her back against a wall. She stood between two doors and I, in front of her. To her right stood the kitchen door, to the left the bathroom door. I studied her. She wore the face of one of Disney’s story-book princesses, fair of skin with charcoal hair. Her dress was modern. Dressed in slacks and a blouse, she could have been any twelve-year-old girl in the US. She smiled, as we both waited to be “next!” I smiled back and proceeded to rattle Spanish to her. Stopping me, in a simple Italian I understood, she said “I don’t speak Spanish. I’m Italian.”  A little, Italian girl, in a restaurant in Barcelona, on a Sunday afternoon. I was a bit surprised.

The kitchen door opened. A waiter exited with food. I sensed paella cooking. Pans and dishes clattered. Suddenly the memory of the language I once studied and taught flowed into my tongue. Sentences like,” where do you live in Italy?” And “how do you like Barcelona?” came easily. Two strangers for a dot in time were joined by place, language, and friendly warmth.

The bathroom door opened and she disappeared. I thought of my yesterdays when I was her age. So many bumpy roads traveled…. The bathroom door opened again. She gave me another smile.

 “Ciao, Signora!” 

I watched her turn and be absorbed into the living organism of the Sangria-happy restaurant in the Ramblas of Barcelona, Spain. Moments later I left the bathroom. Exiting, I had a piece of toilet paper stuck on the bottom of my shoe. Some things are the same no matter where you are.

My husband saw my shoe and laughed.

“Trying to take a souvenir from Barcelona with you?”

As we walked to the big wooden door of the restaurant, I looked back. I saw her sitting with her family. I had an urge to reconnect, and my heart beat a little faster. I yelled, “Ciao, bella!” She looked up and then, another smile. The noise in the restaurant quieted down for a moment. My husband took my hand and I held his a little tighter.

I wished I could give the little girl something, but what? I stopped for a moment and silently prayed…for her tomorrows.


Amarilys Gacio Rassler likes to write stories that touch the heart. She has been published in the FWA magazine and she has won prizes for her Cuban-American poetry and prose. She is currently working on two memoirs.


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