A couple of days after Sunday dinner, it was settled in Miles mind, that Aria would be just fine. She loved H-C, and she’d most likely take Aria under her wing, he hoped. Plus Rudy was responsible and would take care of her. Miles’ assignments would take him away for thirty to forty-five total noncontiguous days in the summer. Stationed in Albany, New York, he would be traveling 80 percent of the time. Honestly, he was relieved to have this as an excuse to leave. The turmoil and conflict still seemed to be too much for him to handle all at once. He needed some space from everything if he was going to set everything with his family straight.
“Aria, I need to speak with you.”
“Come in, Daddy.”
“What are you doing Aria?” He walked in and sat on the edge of the bed.
“Reading a little,” she said, pressed down into the cushions of the chair.
“About what?” His eyes strained to see the content.
“Synonyms,” she looked up and placed her finger on the page.
“Aria, I’m going to need to go away for work for a little bit this summer.” He folded his hands and looked down.
“Am I traveling with you? Or am I going back to Germany with Oma and Opa?”
“Well, I thought maybe you could stay here with Rudy, Kiev, and Trish since I won’t be traveling come September or October. We’ll be able to settle down in upstate New York like we originally planned.”
“Daddy, have you heard from Mama?”
“No. What do you think about the idea of staying here?” He looked over at the picture of his mother on the nightstand, noticing the envelope.
“I really like Kiev, but I don’t know these people very well.” She lifted her finger and closed the thesaurus, her source of safe words.
“Well it’s just like Germany. You stayed with your German family there.”
“Vater, I was born there and knew them all my life. I know they love me.”
“This is your family too. You’re their blood, they love you,” he finally gathered the courage to look at her.
“Trish doesn’t count then, because she is not my blood. She seems like she has it in for me.”
“There’s nothing to worry about. Just stay clear of her and ask Rudy for help if you need it. I’m also going to see if H-C can help keep an eye on you.”
Aria looked as though she drifted off into a reverie.
“Aria, I’m trying to ask you something. Stay focused on the question.”
“Well Kiev’s here. Daddy, I’m a little scared.”
“Scared of what? I thought you wanted to be Nancy Drew? Plus I’ll be coming back every three weeks or so,” he said.
“That’s a long time.”
“Okay, let’s make a deal.”
Aria mumbled, ‘There’s nothing I have that I can bargain with, why are you asking?’
“I’ll call you every week for sure and if need be, we can speak every day or night. You’re going to like it here, I promise.”
“But you didn’t. That’s why you left isn’t it?”
“That was way different. My brothers are so excited to have a kid around to spoil, and H-C adores you.”
He waited for Aria’s response, ignoring her reaction.
“What do you say, Bird?”
“Okay, daddy I’ll try. Will you be back for July 17th?”
“I am coming back to you, Aria, promise.”
“For at least July 17th.”
“At least by July 17th. And I will help you with the Batizada. Deal?”
“Okay. Do they know about Mama leaving?”
He batted his eyes, “No, they don’t.”
“Good.” Aria doubled her arms across her abdomen and pushed her feet into the beige wool rug. He reached for her hand and held it as he stared out the window. He thought about Idelina.
He knew that they identified in the other what they were not courageous enough to implement in their lives but desperately desired. Idelina’s provincial lifestyle created a sense of inadequacy in her. On the other hand, his constant motion caused himself weariness. Yet they threw caution to the wind and became subjects to the alchemy of love. Lust had a lot to do with it. Miles remembered how Idelina stood out from the rest of the Germans he’d met. With her dark hair and eyes, brown skin with red undertones, he pinned her for being a Mediterranean transplant. Her body was the scent that led his initial pursuit. Idelina’s breasts were two high pears which dangled over her ribs. Her buttock was like a small watermelon, firm and drum-like. Her unassuming disposition seemed settled. She was what he wanted at the time.
Miles regretted that their courtship was so brief and marriage happened quickly because there was Aria. He looked at his daughter who was in her own daydream looking out the window. She’s an odd child, both precocious and naïve for a thirteen-year-old.
Miles selected the child’s name, despite her mother’s disapproval. To Idelina, Aria sounded like the Brazilian law, Lei Aurea (Golden Law) of 1888 decried by Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil that abolished slavery. She worried if they ever returned to Brazil, their family would be labeled as revolutionaries. For balance, Idelina gave Aria the middle name Anastacia.
Idelina was a practitioner of Umbanda, like her mother before her. She belonged to the cult of The Blessed Anastacia, a faction of spiritualists that venerated the slave Anastacia. They honored Saint Anastacia by erecting small altars of flowers, jewelry, or prayer cards for religious devotion. It was thought that Anastacia would receive their prayers and perform her miracles as she had when she was bound as a slave and by the facial mask that came to symbolize her. She could think of no more revered name for her female child.
Time marched on in their relationship and as the mind numbing passion of love wore off he began to remember his family problems in New York.
Okay, so I left, I had to, Miles lamented to himself. He stunned Idelina by his departure, at least that’s what she told him over and over again in each one of their subsequent phone conversations or when they lived together again. “At least I put some money in the bank for them and called over those couple years. I had to leave. People need to respect that some people just need to get away from things.” he said to himself.
“But I came back didn’t I?” his sense of guilt made him speak out loud.
Miles paused realizing he had spoken out loud.
“Oh, I said, I am coming back to you, my sweet dreamer.”
He thought, She’s okay, she’s always been okay no matter what. He convinced himself for the thousandth time. He’d just need to tell Rudy, and get him settled with the idea. He’d take good care of her.
She shoved her feet further into the rug. The pronunciation of a-m-a-m over and over again, spilled out of her mouth.
“She’ll be okay, she always is,’ he repeated, rocking slightly.