TITLE: The Black Letter
GENRE: Historical Fiction
After eloping with her art instructor to conceal her pregnancy, 19th century aristocrat Sofia de Bastida y Castellanos is mistaken for a prostitute and exiled to the Galapagos Islands, where in order to survive and return home, she must outwit the colony’s tyrant leader.
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…
Sofia rehearsed the words in her mind, but couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence. Her plan to memorize her confession had seemed like a good idea a few minutes ago. Only through memorization could she voice her sins without thinking, without feeling. But who was she fooling? She would never gather enough courage to tell Padre Humberto what she had done. No matter how much guilt consumed her; no matter how many more sleepless nights she had to endure.
But what if, Dios no permita, her unconscious mind betrayed her? Perhaps in her sleep as her mother stepped into her bed chamber with a candle in her hand to bid her goodnight; or what if, like one of those perturbed beings in asylums with no sense of decorum, she blurted out her sins at the dinner table as her father twisted his curly whiskers and discussed the current state of affairs under García Moreno’s mandate?
The thought was both horrifying and appealing. It would be a relief to share her secret with someone; to unravel the ball of yarn growing everyday with her lies. But if she told someone, it could only be her best friend, Mariana, or Nana Piedad, if she was in an agreeable mood. Or Padre Humberto.
Sofia de Bastida y Castellanos lifted her head and faced the statue of the Christ child standing above the altar, surrounded by angels and a sea of gold carvings.