I missed my elementary-school friend Hilcia. Where had she gone for middle-school? San Juan, Puerto Rico? New York? I began to write about her. But somehow Teresa wasn't me. Life separated Hilcia and me--not prejudice or social class. I changed Hilcia's name to Ana. And Ana wasn't Hilcia. But Ana's skin, like Hilcia's, had the brown shade of a níspero, the fruit I loved because it had the taste of brown sugar. The seeds of the níspero were almond shaped--like Ana's eyes! So dark that it was impossible to see her pupils. I missed Hilcia as much as Teresa missed Ana. That internal seed bloomed into In the Shade of the Níspero Tree.
Years later a man read my website. He knew Hilcia! She had gone to middle-school in New York and had lived in Argentina. Now she worked at the Cultural Institute of Puerto Rico.
Soon I travelled to Puerto Rico to see Hilcia. Our friendship is still blooming.