Brielle Hunter was a professor of literature at New York University. She taught students about 17th century Spanish poetry. It was the inspiration of her thesis, and the source of her doctorate. But now her passion for the subject, would forever change her life. Dr. Hunter was obsessed with the poet Clarinda. Clarinda was of Spanish descent, but she was born in South America in the Viceroyalty of Peru. Four hundred years ago, female writers were not tolerated in Spain, but restrictions were looser in the colonies, and Clarinda’s writing had been published. Her only known work, “The Discourse in Praise,” appeared in publication in 1608. Naturally Brielle wanted to visit Peru, to search the state archives, in pursuit of undiscovered poems by Clarinda. She was accompanied by her girlfriend, Ramona Hedges. While they were on vacation in Peru, it was Ramona’s idea, to visit the mysterious stone forest of Marcahuasi. Markawasi is located east of Lima, on a plateau in the mountains of the Andes. It is a forest of stone pillars, hundreds of granite monuments of curious forms, resembling animal shapes, and human faces. Perhaps the fixed rock formations were the natural result of erosion. Others argue they are sculptures carved by an ancient people. On the same plateau, a few pre-Columbian huts, built of stone and centuries old, are still standing. The light of day was fading, when the sound of music drifted across the plateau, occasionally. Ramona suggested they should investigate, even if they had to use flashlights. As they neared the source of the tune, it seemed it was coming from one of the larger stone houses. The cabin’s open doorway was filled with flickering light, as if illuminated by torches from within. They heard voices and laughter from inside the abandoned cabin, but they had no desire to intrude, and they decided to turn back. Then another tune was played, and Brielle recognized the music. It was “La Marcha Real”, the royal march, which was the anthem of the Viceroyalty of Peru, in the 17th century. The doctor now found it impossible to resist the urge to join the party. She walked up to the open doorway, peering inside. The celebrants were all men, it seemed, in various costumes of 17th century dress. Some were wearing formal white collars with frills, which was most recently in fashion four hundred years ago, among the aristocracy of Spain. Some were dancing together, as if intoxicated. They were drinking from wooden beakers, inlaid with native art, which the professor immediately recognized, as a cup used by the Inca people of that era. This was proof of the synthesis, she realized, between the cultures of the Spanish and the Incas. The early colonists drank from native mugs. One of the men was reaching out his hand, beckoning to Brielle to come into the cabin. They wanted her to join the party! Dr. Hunter was already halfway through the door… when Ramona grabbed her by the shirt, and pulled her back, out of the cabin. It was automatic reflex, her girlfriend protested. When Ramona saw the lights go out inside the cabin, she would not allow Brielle to go in there! Brielle insisted the light did not go out, but she was talking strangely, slurring her words. Suddenly she was unable to walk. Ramona got scared. She had to carry the professor back to their rental car. She drove immediately to the front doors of the hospital in Lima. Eventually the physicians performed a CAT scan on the woman who had been completely healthy the previous day, but today was hemiplegic. Ramona had to ask the nurse the meaning of hemiplegic, and was quite surprised to learn, that Brielle had lost control of half of her body… the same half that had entered the cabin. What if Brielle Hunter had completely entered the stone cabin? Would she have been transported back, to the Spanish colonies of Peru, in the early 1600’s? Would she have been able to find the poet
Clarinda alive? At least the professor is at peace with her
handicap. She cannot find any reason to regret the gift she was given, when she saw those living images from the past.