Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 721
Carlos is a twenty-nine-year-old bachelor, leading a professional life in Mexico City. Although his life is pleasant, he feels that it is missing something, a central attraction. One day, while rearranging dusty, old books, he finds a card with a message written in a childish hand: “Amilamia wil not forget her good friend—come see me here where I draw it.” With the message is a small map.
This message starts Carlos to reminisce about the summer that he met and played with Amilamia. She was an exuberant seven-year-old child; he was a fourteen-year-old adolescent trying to forget the approach of boarding school and adult responsibilities. He spent his days in a small, enclosed park, reading romantic fiction about pirates, runaways, and heroes who rescued princesses.
Into this dreamy refuge, Amilamia intruded herself. In his memory, Carlos sees her in constant motion: laughing, running, jumping, singing, and playing. Amilamia drew the self-conscious teenager into her orbit, becoming a point of support for his life, a visible symbol of the tension between childhood and adulthood. Carlos at this time of his life was beginning to find truth in books; Amilamia forced him for a time to participate joyously in life as a child would. Their friendship progressed from his indifferent tolerance to acceptance, and then, suddenly, to rejection.
Their last afternoon together they spent in playing childish games—running, making paper boats, and rolling down the hill in the park. Suddenly repulsed, Carlos angrily pushed Amilamia away and she fell, hurting herself. Ignoring her tears, he settled on his bench and resumed reading. She left, returning the next day only to give him the little card with the message and map and then leave without a word. He slipped the card into his book and forgot about it.
Now, fifteen years later, Carlos finds the map to Amilamia’s house and decides to follow it. At first refused admittance, he discovers the name of the house’s owner, Señor Valdivia, and gains entry with a lie about Valdivia’s authorizing him to inspect the house for tax assessment.
A shabby middle-aged woman, fingering a rosary, admits him. In his mind Carlos pretends that he is a detective encountering clues, although he does not understand them: wheel tracks in the carpet, a comic book smeared with lipstick, a peach with a bite taken out of it, a child’s blue-and-white-checked apron drying on the clothesline. He leaves, still mystified about Amilamia’s whereabouts.
When he tries to continue his tax-assessor charade later that afternoon, the woman’s husband appears and reveals that they know he is lying because the owner, Valdivia, has been dead for four years. Carlos now reveals that he is actually looking up his old playmate....
(The entire section contains 721 words.)
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