People from my books: Prisca, Peru.

Prisca was of Mayan blood, and had the short, stocky build of the Maya.  Even as a young woman she had never been pretty, but nonetheless had that kind and sincere look to her that is a beauty in its own right.   She always smelt of soap.  Soap and pastry, or soap and chicken stock, or soap and cake.  Marie-Carmen loved the smell of her and as a child had on more than one occasion wept in to Prisca’s flour-covered and ample lap.

Born up in the mountains to a poor peasant family, and orphaned at an early age,  Prisca was taken in to Marie-Carmen’s household.  Why this was she never ascertained.  She could easily have been left to die, but the old Senor Roblez, Marie-Carmen’s grandfather, seemed to know something about why her family had all died.  Guilt ?  Pity ?  Keeping his word to an old friend ?  Or a worker ?  A worker was more likely, for the Roblez family were wealthy, very wealthy.

Prisca liked to boast that she had been present at Marie-Carmen’s birth, but it wasn’t true.  The baby was born in a luxury maternity clinic and there was no question of the Senora‘s servant accompanying her to the labour room.  Truth be told, Prisca had slightly resented the young Senora when she first moved in to the household, and it was only the arrival of a baby that had softened her.  She, Prisca, had been the mainstay of the household for over forty years by this time and it took her a while to adjust to the young bride.

Had she known the young mother was going to die she’d have been more patient.  But how can anybody ever know who is going to die ?  So much fighting, so many deaths.  So many secrets that must be kept.

Extract from “Saying Nothing”, a novel set in Spain, by Catherine Broughton:-


“I’m sure you’ll find her soon,” she said, giving Paul’s arm a reassuring little pat.

“Oh, yes, I’m sure there’ll be no bother,” Stan, less convincingly, joined in.

“Is her passport still with you?” asked Joy, frowning at the importance of her question.

“Yes, yes it is.”

“And you were in a bar?”

The question was directed at Paul.

Not answering Paul told them:

“Reception phoned the hospital last night.  There’s a small clinic here in San Pedro.  She’s not there.  They also phoned the hospital in Marbella and the main one in Malaga.”

“Bizarre,” interjected Stan, “if she’s not in the hospital what about other police stations?”

“That’s what we have just been doing – we’ve phoned six local police stations.  I had hoped she’d been picked up and flung into jail for something, but no, there’s no trace at all.”

“Have you got any friends in the area?” asked Joy, “I mean I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but did you have a row?  Has she perhaps gone to friends?”

“We know lots of people very casually – we’ve been coming here for years – but we didn’t have a row.  We were getting along fine; we always do.”

“What about other hotels?” chimed in the receptionist suddenly, “has she moved to another hotel?”

Paul rubbed his hand over his chin pensively.  He had a continual maddening feeling that it was obvious what had happened but that he just couldn’t see it.

“No, why would she do that?  Even if we had had a row, she might storm off for an hour or two, but not all night!”

“Well,” Stan put his hand on Paul’s shoulder, “come on, my man.  Our first stop is the police station.  Let’s go.”

Standing now in the hot little room, the maddening feeling persisted. The bare brick walls had been painted a garish green up to dado height, and above it was high-gloss beige.   There was only one old-fashioned typewriter, and a telephone.  To one side a slightly crooked shelf held a few paper files.  Paul wished he had gone straight to Headquarters; he had heard that the Spanish police were good, but that these little tourist police places could be remarkably backwards.   To top it, Paul now saw that Joy’s Spanish consisted of only a few phrases.

The guardia wrote painfully slowly, his wrist at an awkward angle, in a long slanting hand that was unaccustomed to writing.  He took down a description of Janie.

“He says what was she wearing?” said Joy.

“Tell him I don’t know what she was wearing,” Paul told Joy, “truly I don’t know.  A dress.  I think it was pink, but I can’t remember.”

Joy laboriously translated this.  Paul’s name and address was taken down again.

“He wants your date of birth.” Joy told him.

“For Christ’s sake! What in fuck’s name has that got to do with it?” Paul’s nerves frayed and his temper snapped.  “Tell him anything!  Tell him Christmas Day if it helps!”

Prisca 001

Catherine Broughton is an author, an artist and a poet.  her books are available as e-books (click below) or from Amazon/Kindle (click below) or can be ordered from any leading book store or library.    “A Call from France”    ”French Sand”    “The Man with Green Fingers”    “Saying Nothing”

Posted on 15/08/2013 by Catherine
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