Despite her wry mocking tone, there was sympathy and affection in her smile. "I shouldn't push you. So I'm going to give you something you'll like - something that has more value than your study plans; A glimpse into the life of some personages of my choice.

"I will make them weave tales for you. Tales about fate. Tales about luck. Tales about love."  

She brought her face close to mine and in a soft whisper added, "Tales about strength and tales about weakness. That will be my gift to you to keep you appeased." ...

"Some people say that we're born with our fate. Others claim that we make our fate with our actions.  "Witches say that it's neither and that something else catches us like the dog catcher catches a dog. The secret is to be there if we want to be caught, or not to be there if we don't want to be caught."  ...

"I personally think that Octavio Cantu couldn't avoid stepping into Victor Julio's shoes.  

"He had very little strength: That's why he was caught by that mysterious something I talked to you about; that something more mysterious than fate. Witches call it a witch's shadow."

"Octavio Cantu was very young and strong," Candelaria said all of a sudden, "but he sat too long under Victor Julio's shadow."

"What is she talking about?" I asked dona Mercedes.

"When people are fading away, especially at the moment they die, they create with that mysterious something a link with other persons, a sort of continuity," dona Mercedes explained.  

"That's why children turn out just like their parents. Or those who take care of old people follow into the steps of their wards."

Candelaria spoke again. "Octavio Cantu sat too long in Victor Julio's shadow. And the shadow sapped him. Victor Julio was weak, but upon dying the way he did, his shadow became very strong."

"Would you call the shadow the soul?" I asked Candelaria.

"No, the shadow is something all human beings have, something stronger than their soul," she replied seemingly annoyed.

"There you are, Musiua," dona Mercedes said. "Octavio Cantu sat too long on a link- a point where fate links lives together.  

"He didn't have the strength to walk away from it. And, like Candelaria says, Victor Julio's shadow sapped him.  

"Because all of us have a shadow, a strong or a weak one, we can give that shadow to someone we love, to someone we hate, or to someone who is simply available.  

"If we don't give it to anyone, it floats around for a while after we die before it vanishes away."

I must have stared at her uncomprehendingly. She laughed and said, "I've told you that I like witches. I like the way they explain events, even though it's hard to understand them.

"Octavio needs me to ease his burden. I do that through my incantations. He feels that unless I intervene he will repeat Victor Julio's life detail by detail."

"It's advisable," Candelaria blurted out, "not to sit too long under anybody's shadow unless you want to follow in his or her footsteps." ...