Chapter 15: San Pedro Catholic Grammar School
Maria remembers her time in the San Pedro Catholic grammar school in Tlaquepaque. She found the trinkets and paraphernalia of her faith easier to hold on to than were the morals taught by example from an ambivalent priest. She later transferred to the Preparatoria Colegio San Pedro Tlaquepaque where she received a more secure education that supported her aspirations to attend university. But her ambitions of studying dance at the Universidad de Monterrey all but vanquished when she met Raul and headed north. She was willing to do this.
Her dream to dance acceded to an endless stream of monotonous days at the factory where she cut material for shirts made for high-end US retailers. Raul’s promise to visit the US was never realized in 15 years of marriage. Those were sanguine and feral ambitions. Hope, after all, can never be the dream of a sensible marianismo wife.
She washes up after work, combs her long raven black hair and fashions it into a chignon. Her eyes are quick with the sweetness of the ocotillo flower and hair like the inky night sky. She wears her best embroidered red Puebla dress and sits on the rickety swing roped to a large old cottonwood.
Maria danced the ballet in high school and exercises her legs, unconsciously stretching her ankle to knee, as she sits provide additional stability to her manor. The Spanish in the north was not the same tongue that she grew up with. Her abode is a reminder of the wild-eyed promises made in the heat of romance unkept by Raul. She only receives a few careless shreds of light on most mornings from the sun as she heads to work. Her eyes never grew accustomed to the compacted lights near the border.
When they were first married, it was the sweetness of waiting that now became a faint breeze to her thirsty hope. Tonight, the aroma of the tender cooling night air caresses her soft shoulders. From the swing, you could see the dirt road passing by the front door that stretches down the hill for nearly a mile. It was a good place to wait. It was a safe view, Raul would say when he looked down the road. But there were never any signs of the federales — los traidores a la liberated — that he cursed about.
But today, she was alone with lifting swirls of warm dust from an evening breeze off the hot desert floor, again. “He is not coming home tonight,” She slips her sandals back on her feet and goes back inside. Maria bows and sighs to the darkness.
His presence extends into her household, even when he is gone. After the birth of their children, Raul was home less frequently. His delivery business with Juan takes him away most weeks. She welcomes his increasingly irregular schedule. She no longer waits for Raul on the swing. He was a sledgehammer among men and was once most desirable to her. Glances from other women, many much younger and more virulent than her, does not catch her ire any more. Her life with Raul was a lie to her soul.
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