The Shadow

Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

Everyone thinks me strange because I love it all as though it were a person.

I love the quiet road named after my great-uncle Pintor Ruano as though it were my great-uncle himself; I love the old church like an old friend; I love the sound of its bells like a familiar song—not a current favorite, but an old melody with notes carved into the crevices of my early childhood memories. The pristine anthem of my baptism, or the soundtrack of my morning walks to the bakery. I have kissed the countless cans of lemon-flavored soda and been embraced by the cold waters of the public pool. I have spent more time staring into the intricate shells of the snails on my great-grandmother’s almond trees than I have ever stared into the eyes of another. I love the shadow, and the whole town it touches, as though it were someone whom I have loved since I was very young.

The shadow was cast over a thousand years ago: first by one settler, then by his followers, then by the towers of a medieval castle following the Moors’ conquest of Iberia. They did not know that their castle would stand over the town of Orba and be spoken of by locals as El Castallet, as I am spoken of as La Americana. They built El Castallet to watch for invaders and outsiders,...

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