Many days, on my way home from school, I would stop and sit on the steps of Villa Deborah, the cottage that sat in the crook of the hill. And since I was in no hurry to get home I would linger, inventing stories about this mysterious house, peopling her with imaginary characters.
In those days Villa Deborah was beautiful. Her name was embossed under the lip of the top step. A jacaranda tree dropped lavender blossoms on the red roof tiles; scarlet bougainvillea covered the stone columns; roses bloomed in front. There was always a brindle dog sleeping on the portico, and sometimes I would sit on the steps and the dog would rest its head in my lap.
I was always worried the owners would come out of the house, but they never did. Perhaps they didn't mind having a girl sitting on their steps. Perhaps they stood behind the shutters making up stories about me, just as I made up stories about them.