From Sand and Ash(5)

By: Amy Harmon


“Do you want to be my brother, Angelo? I don’t have a brother. I would like one very much,” she said, her gaze tracing his profile.

“I have a sister,” Angelo whispered, not answering her, not looking away from the rain. “She is still in America. She was born . . . and my mamma died. And now she is in America, and I am here.”

“Your father is there with her, though.”

He shook his head sadly. “He gave her to my aunt. She is my mamma’s sister. She wanted a baby.”

“She didn’t want you?” Eva asked, confused. Angelo shrugged as if it didn’t matter.

“What is her name . . . your baby sister?” Eva pressed.

“Papà named her Anna after Mamma.”

“You will see her again.”

Angelo turned his face toward her, and his eyes were more gray than blue in the shadow of the small lamp on Camillo’s desk.

“I don’t think I will. Papà said Italy is my home now. I don’t want Italy to be my home, Eva. I want my family.” His voice broke, and he looked down at his hands like he was ashamed at his weakness. It was the first time he had said her name, and Eva reached for his hand.

“I will be your family, Angelo. I will be a good sister. I promise. You can even call me Anna when we are alone if you want to.”

Angelo swallowed, his throat working, and his hand tightened around hers.

“I don’t want to call you Anna,” he said with a sob in his throat. He looked at Eva again, blinking away tears. “I don’t want to call you Anna, but I will be your brother.”

“You can be a Rosselli if you want to. Babbo wouldn’t mind.”

“I will be Angelo Rosselli Bianco.” He smiled at that and swiped at his nose.

“And I will be Batsheva Rosselli Bianco.”

“Batsheva?” It was Angelo’s turn to furrow his brow.

“Yes. It’s my name. But everyone just calls me Eva. It’s a Hebrew name,” she said proudly.

“Hebrew?”

“Yes. We are ebrei.”

“Ebrei?”

“We are Jews.”

“What does that mean?”

“I’m not sure, exactly.” She shrugged. “I don’t go to religious lessons at school. And I’m not Catholic. Most of my friends don’t know our prayers, and they don’t go to temple. Except my cousins Levi and Claudia. They are Jewish too.”

“You aren’t Catholic?” Angelo asked, shocked.

“No.”

“Do you believe in Jesus?”

“What do you mean, believe in him?”

“That he is God?”

Eva wrinkled her forehead. “No. I don’t think so. Jesus is not what we call him.”

“You don’t go to Mass?”

“No. We go to temple. But not very often,” she admitted. “My babbo says you don’t have to go to a synagogue to talk to God.”

“I went to a Catholic school and Mass every Sunday. Mamma and I always went to Mass.” Angelo hadn’t lost the shocked expression on his face. “I don’t know if I can be your brother, Eva.”

“Why?” she squeaked, perplexed.

“Because we aren’t the same religion.”

“Jews and Catholics can’t be brothers and sisters?”

Angelo was quiet, contemplative. “I don’t know,” he admitted finally.

“I think they can,” she said firmly. “Babbo and Uncle Augusto are brothers, and they don’t agree on very much.”

“Well, then. We will agree on everything else,” Angelo said gravely. “To make up for it.”

Eva nodded, just as solemnly. “Everything else.”



“Why are you always arguing with me?” Angelo sighed, throwing his hands in the air.

“I’m not always arguing with you!” Eva argued.

Angelo just rolled his eyes and tried to shake his persistent shadow. She followed him everywhere, and he usually didn’t mind, but he’d spent the morning teaching her to play baseball—nobody in Italy played baseball—and now his leg was bothering him. He wanted Eva to go away so he could attend to it.

“So, what exactly is wrong with your leg?” Eva asked, noticing his discomfort. She’d already taught Angelo the basics of soccer, and though Angelo couldn’t run very well, he could protect and defend. He was a superb goalie. Still, as much time as they’d spent playing together, he hadn’t ever talked about his leg, and she’d been surprisingly patient, waiting for him to reveal the secret. She was tired of waiting.

“There’s nothing wrong with it . . . exactly. It just isn’t all there.”

Eva sucked in her breath in horror. A missing leg was so much worse than she had imagined.