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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...

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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. Becoming less hostile but more emotional, the man and his wife repeatedly ask him what Amilamia used to be like, but he cannot satisfy them; he only remembers what she did and how she appeared. The couple lead him to another room where the scent of flowers is overpowering. Opening his eyes, Carlos sees a shrine, a child’s coffin surrounded by flowers containing an effigy of Amilamia, a “doll queen who presides over the pomp of the royal chamber of death.” Nauseated, he staggers out of the house, the old man’s words ringing in his ears: “If you truly loved her, don’t come back again.”

The matter seems closed, but nearly a year later, Carlos decides to return once more, to give the card to Amilamia’s parents. Whistling lightheartedly, he is unprepared for the shock that awaits him when the door opens. There is his Amilamia, alive, adult in years but child-sized and misshapen, sitting in a wheelchair, dressed in a blue-and-white-checkered apron that does not conceal the lump on her chest. Her once-beautiful hair has a frizzy permanent wave, and garish lipstick is smeared on her mouth. Only her beautiful gray eyes are unchanged. In the space of an instant she is welcoming, then fearful but still hopeful, then frightened and desolate. The story ends with the father shouting from inside the house: “Don’t you know you’re not supposed to answer the door? Get back! Devil’s spawn! Do I have to beat you again?” Her frightened hands drop a comic book onto the rain-soaked pavement.

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