Chapter 18: Castle of Dreams
Her life began in a castle of dreams. It transitioned one day in front of the glass entry doors of the El Centro farmácia drug store in Agua Prieta.
A woman across the street sees it all. Rosa’s mother starred at her father with her mouth open as if she was screaming, but there was no sound. Rosa’s mother Isabella is bent as if melted by the hot summer morning. Rosa can only hear the sound of an occasional car as it crunches on the gravel street. She watches her father walk away.
A woman emerges from across the street leaving her cart and approaches Isabella. Her apron stained from the cutting of fruit. Her sandals and feet dusty from the dirt of the cracked and uneven sidewalk. She is selling aqua fresca, or fresh water, which is blended and infused for thirsty days such as this. The drink said to refresh.
The wind gusts and Rosa can see the outline of her mother’s slim body. Her mother Isabella is a fine looking woman with broad shoulders. She has silky deep brown hair that is tied back in a pony tail with wild hazel eyes. There is a subtle feminine look to her face, a gentleness. Even in the heat of the morning, her brow is dry.
The woman reaches for her mother’s hand as Isabella looks to the sky. Isabella’s eyes fill with tears and determination. She looks to the woman as they both embrace. A sisterhood of understanding.
Rosa’s father, once a surgeon of high regard, fell to the “culprits of alcohol.” For her father, conquering the demons of the hangover, or crudo, required the on-going vigilance of Saint Michael. Rosa could smell the acetone-like oder on his breath through his cigarettes. She would get a whiff of alcohol on his clothes and through his skin, but she loved being with him, regardless of what had held him.
He cherished his Rosa. But he soon fell from her graces. Her mother kept Rosa from him when he was drinking, which was most of the time. There were rumors that her father had molested a neighbor’s daughter. But aside from a fist fight with the father next door, the rumors were never substantiated.
After the morning in front of the drug store, Rosa only saw her father once when he was traveling from Agua Prieta to El Paso, where he was rumored to live. He left Agua Prieta early in the morning when it was so dark she could not see the stars. And Rosa has not heard from him in the past fifteen years. Was he even alive?
Rosa’s teeth ached from drinking a sugary sweet horchata, a sweet concoction of rice flavored water infused with cinnamon and vanilla, that she poured over ice that was tucked away in the icebox compartment of a dilapidated rusted Kelvinator refrigerator hidden in the corner of the panederia.
She spoke to herself aloud, “Piece of shit. My eggs freeze in there. I hope Pepe doesn’t get too many eggs this time.” She has kept excess eggs wrapped in a towel over ice in a bucket under the counter from time to time. But food spoils quickly in the desert.
She was angry this morning. She dreamed about her father again, and she always awoke in anger. Her father used to sing her a lullaby to an up-beat cadence and bounce her on his knee when she was a young child.
Ahí está la luna
Comiendo su tuna
Echando las cáscaras
En la laguna.
There’s the moon
Eating his prickly pear,
Throwing the peels
Into the lagoon.
She missed the father that was. The respected surgeon was full of life and vigor. She recalled the several dinner parties that her parents had in San Miguel De Allende, close to Mexico City.
She wrote a perfect letter to him. It was penned on handmade mulberry paper that she purchased in town. She carefully folded the written 8-page letter and sealed it in an envelope. She addressed it to his last known address and placed it on the Kelvinator. The envelope has since darkened and was stained with dust, dirt and and oils from bakery pans that would occasionally be placed on top of the refrigerator during the past two years. She was surprised to still see the letter and was silently hopeful that it would somehow disappear. While they shared chromosomes, sending the letter was not a road that she was willing to take with him, yet.
A strong sense of loss takes ahold of her. Her father is dead. Rosa holds her bloated face in the palms of her fleshy hands. Her face looks like the moon resting on the crest of a mountain. She stares at the unsent letter on top of the Kelvinator. She looks out the window to the black sky. The stars were punching holes in the velvet darkness.
Rosa shuts the door and quickens down the road. When she arrives at the house, Pepe’s truck is still parked by the side.Rosa shouts for her husband. He is not home and she rushes to her closet to fetch a paper shopping bag containing snapshots from her youth. All she finds is a photograph of her standing next to her parents. Her mother was in the center of the picture and she was on one side of her mom. Her father’s image was folded behind.
Rosa can only remember her father in wistful parts. She comes across a halter top folded at the bottom of the sack. She holds it up, “There’s no way I ever fit into this.” Her father insisted that she not wear wear it. So she wore a green and white checkered flannel shirt, blue jeans and a braided belt … In defiance
Her father was born on March 9, 1936, twenty years to the date when Pancho Villa and his men raided the U.S. town of Columbus, New Mexico and killed seventeen Americans. And some thirteen years after his death in 1923. She swears that he was a reincarnated Pancho Villa. He had the looks and personality. Columbus is close to AP.
“If I can just make my way to El Paso, I can find out what happened to him.” Rosa continued, “My mother had plenty of chances to go back to El Paso.” She recalls this fact from reading her mother’s diary that she found after her mother’s death.
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