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Chapter Eleven – Don’t Talk to Strangers

January 12, 2010

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“Bianca, where did that painting come from?” repeated Emmy, as the two women stood in Allie’s bedroom doorway. “Bianca! This is important!”

“I’ve never seen that painting before,” said Bianca. “I didn’t give it to her, and Joel has never bought a painting in his life that I know of…What does it mean?

“We have so much to talk about Bianca…”

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Allie looked up at her mother and Miss Emmy. The two were so busy talking, they didn’t even notice when she walked past them to use the bathroom.

They were still talking when she got back. Grown ups sure do talk a lot, she thought. But they were so busy talking and looking at her new picture, Allie just stood for a while, listening.

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“Mommy!” Allie said, when she grew tired of their boring conversation. “Miss Emmy! Do you like my pretty picture?”

Emmy and Bianca looked at each other. Something in Emmy’s eyes told Bianca to proceed very carefully.

“I like it very much, Allie,” Bianca said. “But where did you get the picture, sweetie?”

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“From the nice lady, Mommy, you know,” said Allie.

Emmy watched as a deep fear spread across Bianca’s face. “What nice lady, Allie?” Emmy asked, as Bianca stood frozen.

“She came to the house while I was out playing,” said Allie. You two were in the store that day with the kitties.”

“Allie, I thought we talked about strangers, remember? How you should never ever ever talk to someone you don’t know?” said Bianca.

“Yes Mommy, I know, but she wasn’t a stranger, she couldn’t be. She looked just like you but with black hair, and she had our very same last name, like a cousin or something. So she wasn’t a stranger, see?”

“She said her name was DiPotere?” asked Emmy.

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“Mmmmhmmmm….” said Allie. “Um, Mary…Mari…Maria! Maria DiPotere. And she looked just like Mommy and she gave me this pretty picture and she said it was very special. Can’t I keep the picture Mommy?”

“No, Allie, I’m afraid not. Miss Emmy and I need to take your picture, but I promise we’ll get you a new one…maybe bunnies or kitties?”

“Ooooooh….bunnies!” Allie squealed, and the two women stood staring at the mysterious painting of Bella as Allie ran off to play.

“I don’t understand, Emmy,” said Bianca. “I don’t understand any of this. Latin-speaking children, mysterious paintings delivered by strangers, and now this! Does this mean Maria DiPotere really exists? It’s been so long that I’ve been in Strangetown…I had started to think it was all made up…”

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Emmy looked sharply at Bianca. “What did you know of Maria DiPotere before this day?” she asked. “What do you mean…all made up?”

“I think,” said Bianca, “that you and I have a great deal to talk about. I’ll make some pancakes while you have a shower.”

“Yes,” said Emmy. “I believe there is much to be said.”

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