. Florencia Mallon Florencia Mallon Florencia Mallon
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Chapter 2 excerpts

Taking a stand


photo credit: Helen Hughes

The site of the torture camp Villa Grimaldi after the end of the dictatorship.
Photo credit: Helen Hughes

"He must have dozed off for a moment.  As he startled awake, the pain was a rusty knife gouging through the top of his right shoulder.  He tried to move away from it, but then it started down his right side, into his hip.  He found that if he lay quietly, as still as he could, it returned to his shoulder and seemed to calm down just a bit.

As always happened in the dank, windowless cell, Manuel felt the sun begin to rise, a slight warming of the air around him.  He thought back–had it been yesterday?–to the moment they brought him into the room where Eugenia was, and he managed to look at her with his one good eye.  Her face was purple and swollen, dirty tear tracks down her cheeks, and she sat bent over, trying not to put weight on any sore part of her body.  The beatings hadn’t left her much chance of finding a comfortable position.  And what else had they done to her?

How stupid he’d been, and how arrogant.  She’d never been much of an activist. When did he expect to inform the soldiers she wasn’t involved?  Before they beat him senseless?  After they shocked him unconscious with bolts of electricity?  They would release her then, of course.  We apologize for the confusion, we only meant to torture your boyfriend.

But still he managed to look at her, somehow to will her eyes to meet his one open one.  And with all his remaining strength he tried to talk through his pain and hers, brain to brain, blood to blood.  I’m sorry, he shouted inside his head.  Whatever they’ve done to you, whatever happens,  I’ll always love you.  The uselessness of his words had echoed through his heart.  Now, in the early dawn, in the dark closeness of his cell, the echoes returned. 

When had his ideals turned into this?"





"He turned and walked a block in the opposite direction, past the intricate wrought-iron gate that framed the tasteful entrance to his school, past the queue of chauffeur-driven cars waiting to pick up his schoolmates, past the sugar-sweet aromas that emanated from the rose garden hidden behind the school wall. As he turned left at the corner and began the five-block hike to the city’s main avenue, he recalled yet again how dramatically his life had changed since they’d moved to their new house."


(Photo by Juan Puentes Mansilla, Blog "Fotografías de Temuco")




"He crossed the avenue into the downtown district and continued along the edge of the tree-lined plaza. A block further on, tucked between a large button store and a newly remodeled grocery right across from the Central Market, was his grandparents’ tailor shop.  He knew they had opened the shop when they moved to Temuco from further north, where his grandpa had managed a farm after they had come over from Russia."

















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