Spotlight on Claudia H. Long
The price of a secret
When the Inquisition came for my parents and my grandfather, I hid in the laundry cabinet. Tiny as I have always been, even at the age of fourteen I was easily concealed by the linens my mother had just taken from the beds as she put clean covers out for the Sabbath.
The arrest had taken less time than would seem reasonable to end the comfortable life I had known since birth. From the window I saw the scarlet crosses emblazoned on the black cassocks at our door, heard the mezuzah, so inadequately concealed in a niche, hit the steps. I threw myself without pause into the cabinet, piling the linens over myself, curling into a shaking ball.
"There is a child—a daughter. Where is she?"
The blankets and my heart barely muffled my father's curses, and though I heard nothing from my grandfather, my mother's voice cut clear. "We have sent her to the convent in Xochimico to finish her education. She is not here."
It was the only time I heard my mother lie.
For hours I lay in silence, until at last our maid found me the next morning, desperately in need of a chamber pot. I ended up on a cart, again under heaps of blankets, and was conveyed to the Castillo hacienda under cover of darkness in the final auto-da-fe in Mexico, in the year 1720.
Claudia H Long is the author of Josefina’s Sin (Atria/ Simon & Schuster), The Duel for Consuelo (to be re-released by Five Directions Press soon), Chains of Silver (Five Directions Press, 2017–18), and The Harlot’s Pen (Devine Destinies.) She lives and practices law in Northern California with her husband, a cat and four dogs.