Ashes to AshesA Story by Claudia-Rae
A tribute to Alicia Banuelos, a known fugetive. I had to write a story about her in my creative writing class and this is what I came up with. Look her up and you'll see why.
“Ashes to Ashes”
He sat there and I watched him, tapping his pen against the desk top, counting the seconds until our instructor would stop talking. He had beautiful lips. They curved into a delicate pout and were plump in all the right places. Even though I was supposed to be taking notes, I was slowly dragging my pencil across a blank sheet of my sketchbook. My teacher didn’t care, he know I would get an A on the test whether I paid attention or not. A nudge in my ribs startled me and the tip of my pencil slid to make an impossibly dark slash right through the middle of my picture. No amount of erasing was going to get that out, and I knew it. With a frustrated sigh I turned to my right to glare at the poker, my friend Lacey who was trying to show me something on her cell phone. I took her phone, which was at least three years newer than mine, and saw on the elongated screen the words “It’s a GIRL!!!”
My mouth fell open as I looked up at Lacey, who was bouncing around in her seat like a jack-hammer, unable to contain her enthusiasm.
“Should we be excited about this?” I asked Lacey, who received a dirty look from our teacher for her bouncing.
“What do you mean?” Lacey whispered, pretending to take notes to avoid any further glares.
“She’s giving the baby up, isn’t she?”
Lacey looked at me as if I had just told her Christmas, New Years, and her
Graduation were all canceled.
“What?!” she hissed.
I flinched, maybe Alicia, our pregnant friend, had only told me that she was
considering putting the baby up for adoption.
“I just mean… Alicia might…” I tripped over my words before I blurted, “She’s thinking about adoption.”
Lacey’s hands clenched into fists and I closed my sketchbook before she could inflict any other damage. I think she was about to turn the table over in aggravation when the bell rang. Sputtering, Lacey and I left the room together and I threw the half completed picture of Daniel’s lips into the trash.
* * *
Alicia strolled along the sidewalk, twirling her beautiful chocolate brown hair around her fingers. Her T-shirt was stretched taunt over her belly, swollen with a tiny person growing inside. A tiny little GIRL, she reminded herself, shivering. It was way too cold out to be wearing a T-shirt, but none of her warmer clothes still fit her now. She had always been tall and thin, and enjoyed wearing nice tight clothes that flattered this, but now she wished she had thought to buy just one or two things that were a little bit loose then, so that they could fit her now. Alicia came up to her house and walked in the open front door. Her mother was busy in the kitchen, as she always was. She looked at Alicia, her eyes lingering for a moment on her stomach, and then looked away, obviously displeased. Alicia just half-smiled to herself, knowing her mother would not say anything. Alicia’s mother had become pregnant with Alicia when she was fifteen, so she had no business lecturing Alicia who was now pregnant at eighteen. Alicia knew her parents didn’t like it, but they would never just throw her out of the house. Alicia was the pride and joy of her parents, who had three other kids later after they got married who all turned out to be the biggest disappointments. Two still lived at home and one was in a juvenile detention center and would be there for the next two and half years till he turned eighteen. Alicia on the other hand always had nice friends, did community service, held a part time job and baby-sat the young children in the neighborhood, all while managing to keep up a 3.8 GPA.
Alicia’s mother slammed a wooden spoon onto the counter and turned to Alicia.
“Well?!” she demanded impatiently.
“It’s a girl.” Alicia answered.
Her mother mumbled something and Alicia got up before she could make her vocal projections clear. She walked down the hallway into her room, which was probably the cleanest, neatest room in the house. She liked keeping everything in order and she wanted her room to be presentable for guests. Alicia was always embarrassed when friends came over and saw how messy her house was. She didn’t like her friends thinking that she and her family were dirty Mexicans like so many people believed. But her house was so cluttered that it was impossible for it to be properly cleaned. Alicia’s phone rang, an annoying little jingle that she didn’t know how to change, and she reached into her backpack and pulled it out.
“CONGRATULATIONS!” Lacey shouted so loud that Alicia had to pull the phone a foot away from her ear.
“Uhh…” Alicia hesitated, “Thanks?”
“Why aren’t you happier? You should be happier! You’re going to have a daughter!”
“Um, actually Lacey, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that…” Alicia began,
but Lacey cut her off.
“Hollyn already told me that you’re thinking of giving the baby up for adoption. But I
know you won’t. You’re Catholic! Your faith doesn’t allow it.”
“Lacey, I can’t take care of a baby right now. I wanted to go to college next year.”
“Well you can’t now. You have to stay home and take care of your daughter. She’s your responsibility and do you really want to give her to someone else? Someone who won’t love her as much as you will. You’re her mother! You have a bond with her that no one who adopts her will ever have! You can’t just give her away!” Lacey was shouting again now and Alicia pulled the phone away from her ear again, though not as far this time.
“And if you do give her away, you’ll feel guilty about it for the rest of your life and your daughter will grow up feeling unwanted. She’ll know that her mother didn’t want her and just gave her away for someone else to deal with!”
“Lacey, come on. I’m trying to do what’s best for her. My parents don’t support this, and Jason wants nothing to do with her. I sent him the same text I sent you, and he responded, ‘I thought you were getting an abortion’! At least I want the baby alive and healthy somewhere!” Alicia defended.
“You can’t give your daughter away like a sack of potatoes Alicia! It’s completely immoral and irresponsible! You got pregnant and she is your daughter. She’s your family and I know you’ll do the right thing.” Lacey hung up and Alicia had to restrain herself from throwing her phone across the room at the wall because she knew her parents wouldn’t buy her another one. She put the phone down on her bedside table and stretched out on her bed, suddenly very tired.
* * *
Stop staring at him. Stop it! I couldn’t stop staring at him. He was too beautiful.
Too completely perfect and agile and-
My thoughts were interrupted by Lacey running at me down the hallway. Daniel turned around when he heard my name and flashed me the most wonderful smile. I gave him a quick wave before turning to Lacey.
“You’ve got to help me Hollyn! Alicia is still thinking of giving her daughter up for
adoption.” Lacey gasped as though this were the end of the world.
“So?” I asked.
“So we’ve got to stop her! She can’t give the baby up. A child has the right to be raised by its parents. She got pregnant and now she should have to take care of the baby! I can’t believe how little you care about this child!” Lacey looked ready to punch me in the face.
“I care about Alicia! She’s smart and has gotten into some great schools and has a chance to go onto be something fantastic. It’s her choice what she decides to do about her baby, not yours. She’s making the right decision. Someone else will be able to take care of the baby and provide for it in a way she can’t.” I was trying to stay calm and speak evenly, but Lacey wouldn’t stop. I knew she wouldn’t stop. She was going to make this so hard for Alicia, who already had so much to deal with.
Lacey looked at me as if I had told her I personally perform abortions on unwilling
women. Then her eyes settled on my forehead.
“Where are your ashes?”
“I didn’t get any.” I told her.
“Why not? What are you giving up for lent than?” she asked.
“Because I refuse to be a hypocrite.” I explained.
“How does giving up something for lent make you a hypocrite?”
“Because I truly believe that God does not care if we give up something for forty days. It totally does not make you a better christian.” I turned away from her and started walking, but she just followed.
“You don’t have to give something up, you can do something nice.” Lacey pointed
“Yeah, and if I do something, I’m not going to flaunt it.”
“Who’s telling you to flaunt it?” Lacey asked. Oh my God, it’s like having a talking
“Everyone flaunts what they’re doing for lent. Like wearing ashes is flaunting that
you’re going to do something for lent.”
“The ashes are a symbol!” Lacey defended.
“Symbol of what? That you’re devout? Isn’t there a gospel reading about displaying your devoutness?” I turned around and looked at her, and she just looked like someone in a corner who knew they were wrong, but couldn’t find a way to get past whatever was blocking them in the corner, forcing them to face reality.
“That’s not what it means. Well, it doesn’t apply to Ashes on Ash Wedneday!”
“Than what does it apply to?” I asked. Lacey opened her mouth, then closed it again,
obviously unable to think of something to say.
“Leave Alicia alone Lacey. I mean it.” I warned her and walked away.
* * *
“Don’t listen to her Alicia. You know she’s just using the Catholic teaching against you because she doesn’t believe in adoption, not because she actually believes in Catholicism.”
Alicia and I were sitting on the rubber swings at the local playground. I drank a peanut-butter milkshake while she had a bottle of water and a cucumber sandwich. I had noticed that she had been trying to eat very healthy since she found out she was pregnant, but this seemed a little ridiculous.
“Yeah, but Hollyn, she made a good point.” Alicia was dragging the heel of her shoe through the sand to make a dark streak. “She’s right that every child has a special bond with their birth parents. What if the baby goes through life feeling unwanted because I gave her away just so I could go to college?” Alicia replied softly.
“If you keep her, she won’t be able to go to college. You’ll end up working some job that pays crap because all you’ll have is a high school diploma. Not to mention paying child care when you know your parents aren’t going to help you. You’ll never be able to pay for her to go to college, and you’ll have no help raising her.”
I knew Alicia heard me, but as she looked around at all the children in the playground, laughing and running around with their mothers, I knew she would keep her baby.
“Alicia,” I put my hand on her shoulder. “If you keep her, make sure it’s because you
want to, and not because Lacey makes you feel guilty.”
Alicia nodded slowly. “Do you really think she doesn’t believe in all those Catholic
teachings? I mean, she seems to love preaching them to us when we do something
I laughed. “She doesn’t believe them. I know she doesn’t.”
“How do you know?” Alicia asked.
“Because she’s sleeping with the Hockey Captains.”
Alicia’s mouth fell open. “Are you serious?!”
“Yup. Now if she really believed in her supposed faith, she’d have waited till
marriage, wouldn’t she?” I asked innocently.
Alicia smirked at me. “I’d almost think you were evil if you weren’t such a good
friend.” And then she shoved the whole remainder of the sandwich in her mouth.
* * *
Alicia spent the next couple months looking into couples that wanted to adopt her daughter. She didn’t like any of them, and she was starting to get discouraged. She was already seven months pregnant, and every time the baby kicked it was getting harder and harder to convince herself that giving up the baby was the right thing. Especially now that the ultrasound actually looked like a baby and Lacey was making a point of buying her baby clothes. She had absolutely begged Lacey to stop, but Lacey would not let up at all. Eventually, Hollyn got into a screaming match with Lacey in the hallway that resulted in both of them getting Saturday detention; Lacey stopped for a week.
In addition to the lack of a prospective adoption couple and the fact that Lacey was sabotaging any chance Alicia had of getting over her decision without feeling guilty, Jason wanted her to keep the baby. His position sounded a lot like Lacey’s, only with a couple profanities thrown in.
“What the f**k do these morons know about raising my kid? Huh?! No way Alicia, you’re not giving our daughter to a couple of f*****g sterile freaks! Wanting someone else’s baby just isn’t normal! It’s fucked up Alicia. It’s so fucked up!” he had screamed when she told him the news. Alicia asked him if he would be willing to help her with the baby if she kept it.
“Well,” he said scuffing his sneakers on the ground, “what f*****g good would I be?
I don’t know nothing about kids!” and then he had stormed off.
“Don’t worry about it!” Lacey reassured her when Alicia told her and Hollyn about
what Jason said. “He’ll love the baby once he sees her and then he’ll be dying to be a part
of her life!”
“Jason wanted you to abort when he found out you were pregnant!” Hollyn
screamed. “Do you really think he cares about anyone but himself?!”
Alicia liked it a lot more when everyone kept calling the baby “It” rather than “Her”. It was getting so hard to keep herself detached, especially now that everyone in school wanted to feel the baby kick. Several people even went as far as to write down baby-names that they liked and stuck the papers in her locker. Hollyn was practically on the verge of breaking people’s noses, and when she caught a freshman girl stuffing a baby-name paper into my locker, she took the girls backpack and purse and flung it on the school roof from a third floor window.
Lacey and I paced the maternity ward nervously. Three days before Alicia went into labor, she had decided to keep the baby. We had just enough time to throw her a baby shower and she went into labor late last night after we had left. It had now been four hours since she checked in and Lacey and I got here at . Lacey was having a grand ol’ time looking at all babies and pregnant women.
“Aren’t they cute Hollyn! They’re so adorable! I can’t wait till I have a baby and I can dress it in pretty little clothes and rock it to sleep and roll it around the mall in a stroller!” she gushed.
“For God’s sakes! They’re not accessories Lacey!” but I didn’t say anything else. Alicia’s mother was coming down the hallway and I knew instantly that something was not right. I think Lacey sensed it too because for once in her life she was silent.
“Is everything alright?” Lacey asked her.
“The baby didn’t make it.” Alicia’s mother looked down at the floor before
finishing, “I think you girls should go home.”
“But Alicia-” I began, but her mother cut me off.
“Doesn’t want to see anyone right now.”
* * *
Alicia left the hospital a few days later. The doctor wanted to keep her even longer to make sure she was alright, but Alicia couldn’t take it anymore. She couldn’t stand the sound of babies crying or the soon-to-be-mothers with swollen bellies. The thought that other women could have babies was too much to deal with right now.
Alicia’s doctor had told her that it wasn’t her fault her baby hadn’t lived, but that because of “complications”, whatever that meant, Alicia would never be able to have children. For hours afterwards Alicia’s father had done nothing but accuse the doctor and his assistance of screwing up Alicia’s delivery and causing her to be sterile. Alicia buried her head in her pillow and cried silently as the doctor defended himself pitifully.
Lacey and Hollyn were waiting for Alicia when she got home. They sat in the Banuelos’ living room and drank screwdrivers while Alicia’s parents argued in their bedroom.
“I’m thinking of going to
“For college?” Hollyn inquired.
“No, I don’t think I’m going to go to college.” Alicia admitted.
“But why? You could totally get in anywhere, and you’re really smart.” Lacey
“I just want to get away from here. I’ll go live my family there. I’ve got a bunch
of cousins in
“But what are you going to do there?” Hollyn asked.
“I don’t know. Get a job. Get married. Have a baby.”
Lacey and Hollyn looked at each other. They had already found out from Alicia’s
younger sister that another baby was impossible.
“Alicia…” Hollyn cooed softly.
“Don’t pity me, I have no need for it!” Alicia yelled. Hollyn was stunned. Alicia
had never spoken to her like that before. “I don’t care what anyone says, I’m
going to have a baby. I’m going to be a mother and I don’t care what it takes.”
Hollyn looked at Lacey nervously. They both knew this was not going to end
© 2009 Claudia-Rae
Added on June 2, 2009
AboutHmm... well, I'm about to start college next year. I'm extremely excited to be getting away from my home. Where I live is just too quite for me and there aren't enough people. I like a wide selection .. more..