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A Story by Madeline Capo

“Ay bud can you run anotha thing o’ silverware? We runnin’ low and there’s people pilin’ out the door like this the only place to grub in sight.” The sound of Alex’s voice is unbearable, like a fork in a clothes dryer, it rattles and screeches and the country twang tears through my ears. I’d wish he’d just point instead of speak. It’s Friday and it’s busy and he’s talking at me, faster than normal. I understand most of what he says, but Elizabeth is somewhere planning a lesson for tomorrow night’s English class, making sure one day I’ll be able to understand it all.

I quickly shake my head and peel away my dangling cuticles, softened from six hours under the hot running water. It’s so easy and doesn’t hurt, like ripping the wrapper from a Vero Elotes along the “tear here” line, except there’s no strawberry flavor on my tongue when my skin hits the ground and nowhere is abuela’s voice heard yelling,¡No más azucar, tiempo para cama!” I’m mesmerized by the water and food particles circling into the drain below my feet and I think a whole two minutes go by until I push the silverware inside and slam the washer door shut. I wonder about this machine that makes everything clean by pushing some buttons, and I wonder if it’s really that easy. A waitress reassures me it’s not when she yells from the back, “Angel, ya gotta re-run this s**t it’s still dirty.”

            The computer asks me every time, “¿Quieres imprimir un registro?” or “Would you like to print a record?” and every time I say sí, and every time I pin up my time sheets I feel proud I have a job where there is official documentation of my labor. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want their records. Everything is dark when the doors kiss behind me. I head home.

Ben is pretty clean and I appreciate that about him. He’s a twenty-three-year-old college drop out car salesman and I think that’s a pretty solid title for someone that can’t successfully make macaroni and cheese. Living with him is kinda my favorite thing right now�"one of the only “favorites” in my life besides Elizabeth’s class. I grab a cup and pop out some ice, place it under the faucet and breath. There’s a nice crackle sound when the water hits and my back finds a cushion and presses against it. I feel relief.

“Rough night, huh?” Ben’s voice is the reason I can speak any English at all.

“Eh…ya. A lot of dishes,” I say slowly, “I’m tired.” Ben knows me well enough at this point to understand it’s not just the dishes. He nods and the corners of his mouth slide outwards. Mine do the same and I’m thankful for the power of language, but more thankful for the power of silence.

            Elizabeth is from Chicago and she talks funny, sort of like Alex, but I enjoy listening to her so much more. Everything she says seems to go on forever, but it’s not annoying at all, just pretty weird. I mean I’m not an expert but I feel like the word “car” shouldn’t have the same end sound as Ben’s screams. He says, “AHHHHHHHH,” she says “Cahhhhhhhhhhhhh.” I don’t understand it, how those are two separate things, but she always reassures me “it’s okay, don’t worry,” and I have really come to love that phrase. The class is really small and I like it that way because I need the extra help. I’m working on some vocabulary when I smell something strong down the hall and it reminds me of home. Something real sweet, like abuelita’s arroz con leche or walking into a Panadería. Before I know it the scent is in the room and it has hands, it’s alive, and it’s shaking Elizabeth’s hand. “Hey everyone, this is Violet. She’s new to our class, but also very new to the United States as she just arrived on Wednesday. I hope you will all make her feel at home,” Elizabeth says, not speaking too fast, with her kind voice and kinder eyes. Violet picks the chair directly across from Tai, and right next to Lissette, but not before kissing everyone in the room. Tai is from Vietnam and Lissette is from Ecuador, so Lissette is down but Tai looks at me out of the corner of his eye, a little confused, with a “what is happening” kinda face. Violet sits, smiling, and I feel like she is the one making me feel more at home with every second that passes.

            Smooth. Flawless. Her body is a map I want to plot out, traveling to my favorite places and exploring the more unknown ones. The ocean’s expanse is her kiss and every time I sail the waters my thirst is quenched. My vocabulary has gotten much better, hers too, and I am able to tell her these things in English. But… when Ben is gone for the weekend or out working too late, I tell her these things in Spanish, the fiery, passionate, red-hot language of love. I constantly wonder about fate’s timing and our meeting two years ago in that little room. I think back to the thumping in my chest, mirroring her steps, and what would have happened if they never would have walked into my life. Sound waves break the silence.

“Are you here?” she says, looking up at me through the space in her jet black hair.

“What?”

“You look like you’re thinking way too hard up there…”

“Violet, do you ever wish…”

“Wish what?”

Apprehensive, I say, “Wish we were back home. Wish our families could exist here and there. Wish they could understand why we left. Wish you were more than a waitress and I was more than… this?” I sigh. She doesn’t say anything for a long time. I love the angle I’m holding her in and decide to count her eyelashes while I wait, which bat up and down in luscious folds every two seconds.

Finally, she says, “Angel. Life isn’t the same for everyone. You and I both came here for a purpose, with very little, knowing very little about what lied on the other side of that fence. But I can tell you that I lay here now, knowing more, feeling more, being more. My roots are home, but my heart is here. Wanna know why?”

“Why?”

“Because you’re here. You’re home.”

My muscles relax and my arms enfold around her. Sorry Ben and Elizabeth, I think to myself, She’s my favorite thing. The love we make shakes the plots off the map.

***

 “Angel, there’s been an accident. Violet’s hurt,” Ben’s voice shakes. The phone almost slips out of my hand, but I manage to catch it before it falls, take a deep breath in, registering nothing.

“What?”  

“I...I let her take one of the cars out on a test drive when she got off. I didn’t know when you would be home and she insisted, she was really excited about it. Angel… someone rear ended her and sent her head into the steering wheel, hard.”

My palms are suddenly pools and my chest is a bonfire. “Where is she now?” I ask, nearly unconscious.

“Center Point Memorial Hospital on the Northside. They think she might have memory loss. I don’t know what to say; I love you. I’m sorry brother.” Ben’s voice transitions from shaky to perfectly still.

***

“Right through here, Angel.” Dr. Maslowe looks like he could’ve been a spy in another life, and I’m instantly jealous of his good looks and profession. As we walk through big doors that all read “ICU” in bright red letters, I try to imagine him scaling walls, fighting criminals, shooting guns. I do this a lot. I remember the night the cartel killed my family. Everyone was asleep but I had been up hiding my Gameboy under the covers, dulling the light. I heard noises and eventually a gun shot. During it all I made up stories in my head. Stories about places I had never been, people I had never met, just stuff to take me somewhere else other than reality and that room. My imagination is great so it almost always works. This is what I try to do with Dr. Maslowe, Secret Spy, but he’s still just Doctor, walking me through this pale checkered hall.

“Alright before we walk in there are some things you should know,” Dr. Maslowe’s voice drops with each word and I squint as I try to listen. “She’s had severe memory loss, I’m not sure if she will remember who you are or her relation to you. I’ll let you go in alone, first, if you think you can do it.”

“Ok… I’ll be back.” Somehow my legs move side to side and I’m walking down the hall, inching towards the door, seeing her face.

“Hi Violet.” She instantly looks confused and my heart sinks to my toes. I move closer and take the bold step to sit beside her on the hospital bed. She doesn’t look scared so I sit very still and begin to explain.  

For what feels like hours she just looks at me with disbelief. Suddenly she shifts in the sheets, slides her hand into mine, and says “What was your name again?”

“Angel,” I say steadily.

“Well, Angel, this is strange to say but you remind me so much of my abuelo, apart of my home. He had your same nose and eyes.”

I squeeze her hand tight, take a deep breath in, and think to myself, sweet bread, she still smells like sweet bread.      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


© 2018 Madeline Capo



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Added on February 2, 2018
Last Updated on February 2, 2018

Author

Madeline Capo
Madeline Capo

Barcelona , Catalonia , Spain



Writing