She had been lost and he had found her. He must have thought he was reaching back into the past; that she would be as she was when he left her, his young wife, red hair pinned up in curls, a smile on her face, and their darling son in her arms. He couldn't know that the past was dead and she was the ghost of the wife he once had.
The heaving of the ship made her dizzy and she leaned against the handrail. She had left her country far behind and now there was no shoreline, no land to mourn, only water as far as the horizon, and shards of dazzling light splintering the waves. She hadn't seen Janusz since the day he left Warsaw six long years ago. Would she even recognize him now? She could recall the day they met, the date they married, his shoe size, that he was right-handed. But where did this awkward grabbing of dates and facts get her?
She squinted at the sea, the waves churning, over and over. She had loved him once. That much she was sure of. But so much lost time stretched between them. Six years might as well be a hundred. Could she really lay claim to a man simply because she remembered his collar size?
Aurek pulled at her hand and Silvana dropped to her knees, wiping her mouth with the back of her sleeve, trying to smile. The boy was the reason she was making this journey. A boy must have a father. Soon the past would be behind them and England would become their present. There she was sure they would be able to live each day with no yesterdays and no memories to threaten or histories to follow them. She ran her fingers through Aurek's cropped hair, and he wrapped his arms around her neck. She was on her way to a new life and her one piece of Poland was still with her.
Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson. Copyright © 2011 by Amanda Hodgkinson.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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