A Walk on the Water (Five, page 1 of 9)


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As she entered the glass room Señora Beringer looked up from her lunch and raised an eyebrow. "I scarcely recognized you, child! It seems that you somehow remained fresh and unspoiled beneath the false citified exterior you have come to show on that delicate face. Although you do have a . . . a wounded look about you. Well, don't just stand there, girl - sit down and join me! Maria has prepared a delicious meal in your honor today. How on earth did a shy girl like yourself ever manage to travel half way around the world on her own?"

"How, indeed," Alannah muttered to herself. "Well" she admitted slowly, "It's a bit like wearing a mask at a masquerade ball. The mask you chose gives you confidence, strength and courage that you wouldn't normally have, but you daren't remove it. The act of wearing that mask means that you're concealing things about yourself - things that can prove to be very . . . painful . . . if ever you were found out. Some of them lies; some - mistakes that others have about you that prove useful; some are assumptions that have no foundation or truth to them. I what I am trying to say is that I've had to learn to be strong when I need to and in certain circles that in itself is a tool of survival . . . except that, as you say, it's all false."

Señora Beringer gave her a bemused look. "You do not sound at all like a girl born to work in a fish market. Your people must have been well-off, eh?"

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