CAMPANILE: A NOVEL
By PETER MELARAGNO
Week of Day of the Dead, 2008; a café on the zócalo in Oaxaca.
Ethan is working on a novel. His waitress claims she was with her grandfather in 1996 bidding Ethan farewell in the old bus station.
Her name is Dina and he remembers her. As she must continue working, she asks if he might visit her the following day in nearby Mitla, where there is something he should see. And he surely agrees: as far as he understood, young Dina had disappeared in 1996, along with her grandfather, crossing illegally into Texas. But she is nowhere in Mitla and he will never see her again. He does learn in Mitla, however, that Dina's real name was Ariádina. Thus begins a synaptic pas de deux through Ethan's memory palace: Ariádina from Oaxaca and Ariadne from Prague, an art student he'd fallen in love with in Paris. It was 1968, August, and the Prague Spring of that year was about to be crushed by invading Soviet tanks. Fearing for her father and brother back in Prague, Ariadne had to go home. After a wrenching farewell high in the belfry of Venice's Campanile di San Marco, she descended the tower alone. He would never see her again.