Ana is an extra.  She wasn’t supposed to be here, yet here she is.  Ok, why is she here?

 

Well, it’s complicated:

“Hello, my name is Ana Santiago,” she softly announces.
Richard unfolds his arms, thinking for a moment. “I cannot say I am clear on your relationship with him,” he inquires. “Please clarify, are you military?”
Ana smiles coyly. “Of course, silly. I’m his shrink!”
Maice cringes. “That is not your official title!” he mutters in a highly restrained tone.

Ana & Maice

Ana, the first main female character in the book, introduces herself and succeeds in upsetting her charge in less than fifteen words.  But, she is aware of the circumstances she finds herself suddenly in:

Ana shakes her head, after sipping her latte. “I can’t say I’m interested in going on such a testosterone-filled adventure”—she glances over at Maice, noting a smile creeping onto his face— “but I don’t see I have much choice.”

Ana

What brings her into the picture?  It concerns why Maice is on leave:

Richard unfolds his arms, thinking for a moment. “I cannot say I am clear on your relationship with him,” he inquires. “Please clarify, are you military?”
Ana smiles coyly. “Of course, silly. I’m his shrink!”
Maice cringes. “That is not your official title!” he mutters in a highly restrained tone.
Ana looks back at him in disappointment. “Well, ‘military counselor’ is too vague. It’s not as if you really value my opinion on anything!”
Maice refolds his arms, turning up his nose at Ana. “I don’t believe your functions on my behalf need to be public knowledge. From now on, I demand you inform others of your official title, not some fictitious one you’ve made up for the moment!”
Ana shakes her head. “For your information, you are not my superior, and you have no business giving me orders! And second of all, I think I have a right to inform your travel companions of what I’m doing here, so they can know what kind of person you really are!”
“You think I’m some sort of crazed lunatic in need of psychiatric help! Considering how little you actually know about me, I find your opinion on the matter worthless!”

Richard, Ana & Maice

Tempers flare quickly over her simple introduction, and it seems Maice would like more ‘separation’ between them.  If this arrangement seems unusual to you, remember I wrote this when I was younger, so procedures for treating a ‘patient’ like this would’ve been beyond me.  But, I would also point out that their arrangement may be more than it seems.

Let me share two examples.  The first is just prior to Richard’s wedding.  Ana and Maice are discussing their preparations for the event.  More specifically, his preparations:

Maice stops at the entrance. “Now what are we getting?” He glares intensely at Ana. “What are you possibly going to need from here?”
Ana stops, turning on her toes to face Maice. “Well, I don’t need anything from here, but you might.” He turns away from her as she put her hands on her hips. “For the wedding, remember?” Maice crosses his arms in defiance. “Maice, you have to wear a tuxedo.”
No! I’m not wearing that! I can wear my service dress uniform!” He turns his back on the store, ready to walk away. Ana comes up behind him.
“Maice,” Ana says sternly, but with her voice still very soft, “the reason why you have been showing such poor progress recently is because you are resisting me all the time. You need to learn to compromise a little.” Maice turns around, his arms still crossed.
Her voice becomes a little less adamant, expressing more compassion. “Maice, I’m not trying to change you. I’m just asking for you to please cooperate with me on this. I’m sure you appreciate Richard’s invitation to his wedding…” She looks over to Richard. He nods in agreement. “So the least you could do is dress accordingly.”
Maice unfolds his arms. “All right,” he says defensively, “I’ll wear the suit.” He points a thumb at himself. “But I’m choosing which one I’m gonna wear!”
Ana smiles. “I want you to.” Ana turns around, moving back to one of the racks. She glances briefly at Maice, looking him up and down completely. She turns to the rack, immediately plucking a tuxedo from the assortment. “How about this one?”
Maice moves closer to her to get a better look at it. He starts to nod his head, then quickly shakes it, walking away.  He walks back again, getting still closer, touching the fabric and checking the seams before stepping back and folding his arms, groaning. He looks at Ana. “Well, um, what do you think?” he asks.
“I like it.”
Maice nods. “I guess I’ll take this one.”
Ana smiles, patting him on the shoulder. “See? That wasn’t so bad!” Maice stands tall for a moment, his face beaming.

So helpful!  What would he do without her?  The second is at the wedding, while locating a seat:

Reaching the midpoint, Richard stops. He turns back to the group. “The rest of the seating from this point is for the family.”
Ana frowns. “Oh, well,” she sighs. “I guess I’ll have to try to get a picture from the aisle, seeing how I’ll need binoculars to see the stage!” Seeing two seats, deep within the rows, Ana prepares squeeze her way to them.
Seeing Ana wants to sit on his row, the gentleman at the end of the row stands, gesturing for Ana to stop. He then motions for the others to move down to fill in the opening. As they shuffle down, Ana looks back to Richard. “What are they doing?” she asks.
Richard smiles. “They are giving you a place to sit.” He looks up seeing everyone in the row is now settled. “The aisles from here to the back of the hall are too narrow to walk down. This is easier.”
Ana smiles. “Wow! An end chair! Now I can get a really good picture of the bride!” She quickly shoves Maice into the row, plopping herself down on the end seat. Maice is barely settled before she tosses him her purse, having extracted a camera. Maice looks at the purse, then at Ana, taking a deep breath. She turns back, now smiling coyly. “Thank you for holding it for me.” Maice looks at Richard, shooing him away from his embarrassment.

When  I wrote the initial draft, I was trying to figure out what I wanted from these two for a long time. Trying to determine what their relationship was, outside of what seems to bring them together.  I realized as the book continued, there was a lot more than I could reveal in only this book about them, and since they’re not central to the story (in this book, at least), there was only so much I can share of their interactions.  But, like the others, I though carefully about who they are, and how they would react to each other, and everyone else.

I would also point out another thing that could be missed (I obviously did, when I wrote this):  These two are serve in a Military capacity to their home government, and one is now serving as an escort to a foreign power.  This may not seem like that big a deal, since they’re friends.  But it clearly was something I didn’t realize at first.

Of course, Ana’s unique set of skill makes her invaluable even to Richard, since he is needing help learning about the problems his new wife faces.  In one particular scene, Ana avails herself to assisting Richard:

Once the music stops and the audience applauds the couple’s moment, she curtsies and quickly runs off. Richard stands dumbfounded in the middle of the floor before deciding to pursue.
Ana, noticing how quickly Rebecca darts away from the floor, decides to follow her as well. Ana meets with Richard in front of a restroom entrance Rebecca enters. Richard looks at Ana. She folds her arms. “Is something wrong?” she asks.
He looks down at the floor for insight. “I need to ask a favor of you,” he starts, looking up. “Rebecca has a profound fear of space travel!”
“Well, doesn’t it seem like a dumb idea to have the reception here then?” she snaps, wildly gesturing to the dance floor.

Ana, unlike Maice, is not beyond sharing her feelings.  And while my previous blog on him may seem to indicate he volunteers a lot, you may want to read more than the hundred or so words from the book in that post to decide that.  And while she does get along with some, she has conflict with others in the book, too.

Next month we’ll look at some of the others who interact with Ana (and the others!), and where these call home.  I’ll start with the few non-humans that are featured in this book, and a few others.  That’s because in April, we will talk more about something else entirely.

With that, next week, we’ll get a jump on talking about something that has nothing to do with the story and characters of The Silent Invader.  Next week, we’ll talk about me.


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