AnnaMaria frowned at Diego, wondering how this “experiment” could possibly be worth the time. It seemed so silly, and could dredging up the past be a good thing? She had survived this long without Zorro. Or had she? Loneliness and drinking wine was perhaps not a good way of surviving. Had she been such a blind fool for so many years?
Despite minor reservations about it, AnnaMaria
nodded. “Alright, Diego. I will submit to your “experiment”. I don’t see what it can accomplish, but then enjoying too
much time at the tavern hasn’t done anything better for me either.
I suppose I have nothing to lose.”
“But perhaps you will have something to gain from it, senorita,”
Diego suggested. His bright
smile seemed to put her at ease and AnnaMaria closed her eyes.
Diego moved to position himself behind her.
“Now, AnnaMaria, I want you to relax and think back to when
Ricardo del Amo was pestering everyone in Monterey.”
AnnaMaria giggled at the insulting comment, but kept her eyes
closed and waited for Diego to continue.
“I want you to recall del Amo’s voice.”
She nodded lightly when she had summoned up the recollection.
“Does it sound like the voice that is talking to you?” Diego
“Well no, of course not, Diego.
You and Ricardo never sounded anything alike,” she answered.
Diego smiled. “Very
good, senorita. I am very glad to hear that you could keep me separate from
that baboso!” They both laughed quietly over that. “Alright. Now,
think back to Sergeant Garcia and tell me if the voice you hear matches
that of what you remember.”
Again, AnnaMaria distinguished Diego’s voice from that of the
Sergeant’s from her memory. “Bueno,
bueno. Now tell me
something that Zorro once said to you.”
She sat quietly thinking which of many things Zorro had said to
her, to others, and tried to decide which she should offer.
But finally she nodded and told Diego.
“Wonderful, AnnaMaria. Now
I want you to concentrate extra hard on Zorro saying that.”
AnnaMaria took in a heavy breath and, with eyes closed, drifted back to when Zorro was in Monterey. Diego crept up closer behind her and repeated what she had told him.
“You have only to look about you,” he murmured
close to her ear. It made
AnnaMaria gasp and suddenly open her eyes.
She quickly turned to face Diego.
voices…they are the same! I..Diego!
Are you telling me that you are…were….Zorro?” she asked in
“Si, AnnaMaria,” he
answered, looking solemnly at her. “I
am Diego de la Vega, but I was Zorro.
The very Zorro you loved and waited for, and who loved you in
return. But I could not stop
being Zorro for so many years.” Looking
at her, Diego saw that she was nearly reeling with disbelief.
He wondered if he had hurt her so deeply that it was irreparable.
But he had to try to make things better.
“AnnaMaria, senorita, por favor. I
beg you, please do not be angry. I,
as Diego de la Vega, would have come back to Monterey if I had only had
the slightest hope that you cared for me as much as you did for Zorro.
Zorro was my other “self”; always needed, always called upon,
never a chance for a normal life. I sacrificed everything that was important to me to answer
the call of the very mission I created with Zorro.
I was my own prisoner. I
had no heir, even, to pass it on to and frankly, that could be a good
thing. It was a satisfying
thing to be Zorro, to a certain degree.
But it does make one a prisoner.
I was able to keep the secrecy for the duration.
Again, it had its price. I
truly wanted to return.”
AnnaMaria listened intently. She
couldn’t decide if she was hurt, or angered, or if she truly understood
the predicament. Back as a
young adolescent, she most likely would have been highly offended that she
had been forgotten. Now, as a
mature lady, she had learned to be far more understanding and not focus so
much on herself. The wounds
of loss had still found their way to her heart and had driven her to the
path of the tavern. But even
after nights of wine, she would think and ponder the demons that seemed to
drive her to poor decisions. AnnaMaria
knew she was capable of compassion.
And she was nobody’s fool any longer.
Taking in all Diego had said seemed to make sense.
“I do understand, Diego. Back
then, I honestly do not believe I would have considered anyone else but
myself. Perhaps I needed to
learn to listen. Not only
with my ears but also with my heart, as you proved today.
It was a lesson that was a long time coming.
Diego picked up her hand and kissed it. He felt young again. That same familiar rush coursed through him as it had done so many years ago. “Gracias to you too, AnnaMaria.” Looking around, he noticed that perhaps they should pack up their picnic and head back. The sky was beginning to reach evening’s colors. But why should the day end, he asked himself. They could continue into the evening, perhaps at an outdoor café, where there were musicians playing. Diego did not want to tempt AnnaMaria’s weakness by going to the tavern. He preferred a more secluded, less populated place.
Returning to the carriage, AnnaMaria once again took notice of the
As white as snow. And
she now understood why. Diego
had chosen them to bring back the memories of Zorro’s horse by these. “You should purchase these beautiful horses, Diego,” she
said quietly as she rubbed their noses.
She looked at Diego and smiled.
“One for each of us, AnnaMaria?” he asked.
He could, had always been able to, imagine it.
The two of them riding on such beautiful beasts.
“In a way, senorita, I
have returned. If you think
there would still be room for me in your heart, I would be more than happy
to take you and these horses back to Los Angeles with me.
I have a lot of Zorro stories
to share with you!”
AnnaMaria blushed. “Why
Diego de la Vega, that sounds strangely enough like a proposal!”
Diego awarded her his brilliant smile.
Even as the years had gone by, Diego had matured gracefully, as did
AnnaMaria. They were still
two very handsome people.
“Nooooo, AnnaMaria; that by no means was a proposal.”
He drew her close to him and held her tightly and whispered in her
ear, “Now this
will be a proposal!” And he
continued whispering, sending her into gales of giggles.
“Does it mean ‘yes’ or ‘no’?” he asked her, chuckling
“Oh very definitely ‘yes’!” she replied.