book clubs, women authors, women's stories and women's art are the four intertwined strands of this vine.

Worries in a Big City

The gallery was only a few blocks away so Isabel started to walk. As snow began to fall, people dipped their heads against a stiff cross-town wind that had kicked up. Though she was hurrying to meet Amanda at the gallery, Isabel thought only about what she would say when she saw Lita. She would have to be careful, give Lita a chance to open up, not be too anxious, hold herself back. She expected their meeting to be difficult. Even now it was not clear what had happened.

In her bag was the paper with the address where Lita was supposed to be. It was somewhere called Brooklyn. She pulled the paper out of her small shoulder purse, which she wore with the strap across her chest on top of the woolen scarf she had bought for the trip north. So different from where she lived by the sea. So cold here. She wondered how Lita was dressed in this weather. How she was getting around. What she was doing every day. Whether she had tried to call home. Whether she would be too proud to admit things had not gone well with the young man. Isabel wanted to thrash him. How could he have been so callous to take a girl so young so far away?

She tried to focus on when this had happened and how, but her mind was still muddled from all the drink and from the trip and from her fear of going back to Mexico with that man awaiting her. What could she do when she saw Lita? What could she say that would convince either of them that going back was best? In her heart, she now realized, she wanted to run as Lita had run, to hide somewhere, to start fresh. To be new again with her entire life ahead of her, knowing what she now knew. Would she have made a different choice sixteen years ago in Florence? If she had known then …

These thoughts took her nowhere closer to a solution.

She arrived at the gallery building and entered the lobby where there was a sign-in desk and a man taking pictures of everyone who did not already have an access badge. Upstairs, off the elevator that opened directly into the gallery, her paintings were now resting against walls, arranged in a temporary display assigned by their spots for the show, waiting for her to say “yes” or “no” to their placement, waiting for her comments to be taken down and placed on small cards next to each one. The money part was out of her hands. Eduardo had already dictated terms. Isabel wondered how he managed to have so many connections to so many galleries and museums. She was beginning to wonder about a lot of things that had never entered her mind before. Like Lita crossing the border. Where had she found someone to smuggle her across? Where had she sold the necklace – their only family heirloom?

People milled about, all intent on tasks, talking, carrying art work, adjusting rows of lighting, inspecting her paintings, measuring, bustling. One woman stood in the center of the largest part of the gallery. She held a pad and pen, wore a neat suit and stylish shoes that Isabel thought she had seen in a magazine. Isabel felt like a country girl in her light overcoat and wool scarf with her small bag and no gloves against the cold. She stood silent for a moment until someone saw her – a young man dressed in black slacks and a black turtleneck.

“Oh, hello,” he said and came over to her. “May I help you?”

Isabel Part 2, Episode Twenty-Four

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