I’m not really sure how I first learned about Chantel Acevedo, a Cubanita-Amercan writer – and blogger – who grew up here in Miami very much the same way I did, but, boy, I am glad I did. Not only will she be helping out with Cuba Nostalgia by submitting some of her excellent prose, but she has a new work of fiction forthcoming titled “Love and Ghost Letters” from St. Martin’s Press, which, from the few excerpts I have read, promises to be an excellent journey.
Below is a short excerpt I have shamelessly lifted from her blog to give you all just a small sample of her delicious writing. It’s like a pastelito de guayaba with un cafe con leche in prose.
LOVE AND GHOST LETTERS
from Chapter 1
The night before he left for the Sierras, a mountain range he knew as a young boy, when he and his brother first arrived from Spain and were handed rifles, prepared to fight in the war for independence, he stood in the doorway of Josefina?s room for a long while. She watched him through sleepy eyes in the bright light of the hallway, his tall figure like a resplendent apparition that pulsed and threatened to disappear. She finally called out to him, ?Pap?, come in,? and he did, sitting on the edge of her bed so that the mattress tipped and Josefina had to shift to maintain her balance.
?Would you like to hear a T?o Francisco story?? the Sergeant asked her, his voice timid in the dark. It was the same voice he had used when she was a child and he told her funny stories of her lost uncle?s antics as a boy. The muted way her father spoke of his brother was tender, and Josefina remembered now, in the dark, how well those stories calmed her during tropical thunderstorms that lit up her room like a bursting camera flash, how her stomach hurt from laughter, and how the Sergeant never seemed to run out of stories to tell. They were happy, brightly painted stories, but Josefina sensed, even as a child, that there might be more to them, an element of danger, of romance, that her father was leaving out.
?S?, pap?,? Josefina said and put her hand into her father?s.
He began, ?I?ve always said your uncle was a Wednesday boy, always in the middle.? The Sergeant cleared his throat and wiped his mouth with the back of his free hand. ?There was this one time when we were about nine years old, back in Spain. There was a hill behind the house with a paved path on it, lined with jonquils that Francisco loved to trample. He had an idea–to ride down the hill on a wheelchair that belonged to our grandmother.?
Gracias, Chantel, for giving us this beautiful glimpse into a time and place almost forgotten.