Thursday, September 24, 2009

Living a Nightmare (Ch. 14)

"Hello? Who's out there? Can you help me get out of here?" Mauricia yelled at the brush as she waded through the murky water. Mauricia could not remember how she ended up in the lake but she felt a desperation to get out. The water was dirty and made her feel out of control. She saw no one in sight. She continued to wade through the water to get to land when she felt her leg get pulled. Mauricia fell back and she screamed, "Aaaahh!" Mauricia opened her eyes and looked around. She had a nightmare. "Mauricia are you alright?" Maria del Carmen asked as she was awakened by her screams. "I'm fine. I had a terrible dream that I was wading through a murky lake and no one was in sight. I was alone and felt so much fear." Maria del Carmen said, "It sounds like your going to go through a lot of misery, problems, and heartache. Dirty water symbolizes problems and the fear you began to feel means the sadness that is the outcome to the problems." "Hush Maria del Carmen! Don't say that, it was only a dream! I think it is only normal under the situation we are under.", whispered Mauricia. Maria del Carmen responded, "I know how you feel Mauricia, I miss father too. Let's try to go back to sleep, tomorrow will be a long day."

The mood in the house was dark and somber. After Don Leopoldo's mass and funeral, family began to pour into the house bringing food and paying their respects. Carmela sat in the parlor dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief. Andres and Miguel remained in the corner of the parlor acknowledging family and friends but could not move from their places. Mauricia placed Teresa next to her uncles while she and Maria del Carmen walked around greeting everyone. "Thank you for coming. Thank you for the food. We appreciate your thoughts.", were the words that flowed out of both womens' mouths. Mauricia wondered, "How much longer can I do this? I want to run to my room and lock myself up. God give me patience and strength." Several minutes later, Mario walked into the room and immediately approached Maria del Carmen. She felt relief upon seeing Mario and put her head on his shoulder for a moment. Carmela approached Maria del Carmen and slapped her on the shoulder, "Maria del Carmen! Such acts of public affection are not appropriate! Stop this immediately!" Maria del Carmen straightened up and Mario patted her hands reassuring he was still there.

A strange man approached Carmela amongst the crowd and whispered in her ear. Both Maria del Carmen and Mauricia noticed this from afar. Carmela gave half a smile and nodded in agreement while she escorted him back to the door. She slipped her arm around his and the ladies overheard her telling him "Of course, I will meet you tomorrow afternoon, but do not forget your part. I expect you here around noon to talk to the family." This unusual encounter left Maria del Carmen and Mauricia suspicious.

The next day Maria del Carmen and Mauricia waited for the arrival of the mysterious man while they finished cleaning the parlor from the previous event. "What do you think this is about Maria del Carmen?", asked Mauricia. "I have no idea what it could be about, but I do not have a good feeling about it.", responded Maria del Carmen. Andres and Miguel remained in their rooms and Carmela made her way into the parlor. "Ahhh, I'm glad you both cleaned up the parlor, I am expecting a visitor in a moment.", she announced. "Who is coming over mother?" asked Maria del Carmen. Carmela strolled by reviewing the furniture for dust. "Oh, Licensiado Martinez, he is handling your father's will" Mauricia interjected accidently and said, "I thought father consulted Licensiado Tomas about his revised will?" Carmela approached Mauricia and said, "There is only one will, and Licensiado Martinez is now handling it. He consulted Licensiado Tomas and retrieved your father's will from him, any more questions?" "None, I apologize for interrupting you Doña Carmela.", Mauricia pleaded. There is a knock at the door and Carmela sends Maria del Carmen to answer it. Licensiado Martinez walked into the parlor and Carmela introduced him to Maria del Carmen and Mauricia. She excused the boys for not accompanying them. Carmela told the ladies, "Don't worry, Licensiado Martinez will make this brief. Let us have a seat." Licensiado Martinez took paperwork out of his bag and placed it on a table in the parlor and read through the document, "In the event of my death, I, Leopoldo Delgado, hereby leave all my assets, the house, and my business to my beloved wife, Carmela." Maria del Carmen and Mauricia looked at each other puzzled. The remaining words that came out of Licensiado Martinez' mouth were not perceived as they were still mesmerized by what they had heard. Mauricia recalled the conversation she had with her father before his attack in which he mentioned an inheritance for her. Maria del Carmen whispered in Mauricia's ear and said, "I cannot believe what I am hearing, this is an injustice!" Mauricia whispered back, "I know, you and I know father would not leave everything to her." Maria del Carmen said, "I am relieved, Mario is coming today to talk to mother about a wedding date. I cannot wait to get out of here!" Mauricia began to think when Maria del Carmen left she would not be far behind in leaving too. Carmela walked Licensiado Martinez out again. They both laughed as they strolled to the door, and Carmela said she would see him later. Mauricia was disgusted by Carmela's behavior with Licenciado Martinez and the day before she scolded Maria del Carmen for leaning on Mario. "What a hypocrit!", Mauricia said under her breath.

Maria del Carmen approached her mother and informed her, "Mario will be coming shortly mother. He and I need to discuss an important matter with you." "Very well," scoffed Carmela, "but I do not have all day. I need to get ready for this evening." Mauricia stood guard by the front door waiting for Mario's arrival. She could not wait to witness Carmela's reaction to Maria del Carmen and Mario's proposal about their wedding date. Mauricia pretended to broom the sidewalk in front of the house as Maria del Carmen watched from the upstairs window. Mauricia saw Mario walking down the sidewalk approaching the house and she started to cough loudly. Maria del Carmen was not too far to hear, she knew it was her cue to run downstairs and greet Mario. Once Mario was in the parlor, Maria del Carmen went in search of her mother to meet them. Carmela made her way down and greeted Mario vaguely. She took a seat and asked him, "Well, Mr. Acevedo, what can I help you with?" Mario began to inform Carmela, "Previously, I had asked your husband for permission to befriend your daughter and court her. I completely respect Maria del Carmen and am ready to make a commitment to her and would like to ask for her hand in marriage." "You what?!" laughed Carmela. "This must be a joke. She is not ready for marriage Mr. Acevedo. Maria del Carmen does not attend social functions and most of the time she stays in this house. I have more use for her than you!" Carmela looked at Maria del Carmen and asked her to leave herself and Mario alone to speak. Maria del Carmen stepped out of the parlor but remained in the hallway to overhear the conversation. Mauricia stood further down the hall anticipating Carmela's reaction but could not make out what was happening.

Carmela walked over and sat next to Mario and said, "Mr. Acevedo, please understand my position. Don Leopoldo is no longer here, and as the new head of this household I must make decisions for the best interest of this family. Maria del Carmen hardly left the house for one reason." "What is that reason Doña Carmela?", asked Mario. Carmela sighed and placed her hand on her chest, "It hurts me to tell you this but Carmela is no longer a lady. She befriended one of our helpers at the grocery store and Don Leopoldo found them upstairs in bed." Mario's eyes widened and at that same moment, Maria del Carmen gasped and clasped her hands over her mouth to avoid from being heard. "Mr. Acevedo, that is the reason my deceased husband was in a hurry to marry Maria del Carmen off. I feel she needs more time to mature and do not think it would be fair to you to not know her secret. You may befriend her, and if you agree to continue courting her that is your decision but I feel I cannot approve or stand behind a marriage for her at this time." Mario sat bewildered at what he heard and could not make out what Carmela said to the feelings in his heart for Maria del Carmen. "Thank you for this information Doña Carmela. I will think about this." Mario responded. Mario stood up and excused himself from Carmela as Maria del Carmen and Mauricia had hidden in the kitchen.

Carmela made her way upstairs to her bedroom and as Maria del Carmen heard the bedroom door shut she raced to the front door. Maria del Carmen began to run down the street in a frenzy and caught up with Mario. Mauricia was right behind Maria del Carmen when all three were standing at the street corner. Maria del Carmen said, "You cannot believe what my mother just said in there Mario! How could you sit there and let her say those things about me?" "What was I to do Maria del Carmen? You heard her, she said she would not agree to our marriage!" Mario yells back. "That does not matter, you said you loved me! If you loved me you would have defended my honor!", responded Maria del Carmen. Mauricia tells Mario, "Please Mario, don't let Carmela's words taint your heart, I know she can sound convincing but Maria del Carmen is not a whore!" Mario yelled at both ladies and said, "Stop it! I do not know what to think at this moment! This is too much for me to handle. Maria del Carmen let me have a couple of days to think." Maria del Carmen asked, "What couple of days? You believe my mother don't you!? Look at me! You doubt me?" Mario stands in silence. Maria del Carmen confronted Mario, "Your silence is enough for me. Remember, your silence ruined this relationship!" Mario interjects, "Look, Maria del Carmen, I will see you tomorrow." Maria del Carmen stood there with a blank look on her face as tears ran down and replied, "Of course Mario, you will see me tomorrow, I promise you that!" Maria del Carmen turned around and began to walk away. Mauricia caught up to her consoling her and immediately took her to her bedroom to clean her up.

Back at the house, Mauricia cleaned up Maria del Carmen and put her in her pajamas. She asked her how she was feeling. Maria del Carmen had been silent for a long time and it worried Mauricia. "I am fine sister. My heart breaks to hear my mother speak of me like that after everything I have done for her. I only want to be married and be a good wife. I have always been a good daughter, sister, and one day I wanted to be a mother. I feel like my life has been taken away from me. Mario has deceived me. My father is gone and my mother betrayed me. Mauricia, can I please sleep alone tonight? I promise you I will be fine. I love you sister, all this time you have stood by me. I will never forget that." Mauricia responded, "I will always be there for you sister; till the end. Get some rest, tomorrow will be another day and we can put this behind us." Mauricia kissed Maria del Carmen as she laid down to sleep. Mauricia cannot help but hurt for Maria del Carmen too. Mauricia's own heart still felt pain after two years and understood it would take a long time to heal Maria del Carmen's heart.

The rooster crowed loud and clear early in the morning. Mauricia woke up to prepare breakfast for the boys and let Teresa and Maria del Carmen sleep in more. Andres and Miguel walked in and greeted Mauricia. They asked her where was Maria del Carmen. Mauricia told her brothers the scenario from the day before and Andres pounded the table and said, "Maria del Carmen will get married! Mother has no reason to stop her. Mario is a good man and now mother has made him doubt her virginity? That is uncalled for! My poor sister." Miguel said, "I am going to check on Maria del Carmen. I feel awful. Let me wake her up with a big hug. She needs cheering up." Miguel tip toed to Maria del Carmen's bedroom. Andres and Mauricia are left standing in silence when they hear Miguel scream, "Nooooooooooooooooooo! Maria del Carmen!"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Till Death Do Us Part (Ch. 13)

"Maria Guadalupe, you have my deepest sympathy. I hope your holding up well." Julia told Maria Guadalupe as she saw her at church. Maria Guadalupe responds, "I'm doing well, thank you. The doctor told me to take it easy after this last miscarriage. I will be up and running around in a short time. I have to, mother and her friends are hosting a gathering for the upcoming holidays. I need to get in shape to wear my new dress and shoes." Julia responded," you should not rush your recovery, you need time to heal." Maria Guadalupe waved her hand in the air and said, "Oh, what does the doctor know, I'm young and will be able to have another child." Julia asked, "How is Don Leopoldo doing after his attack? Does the doctor think it was his heart?" Maria Guadalupe said, "The doctor does think it was related to his heart. He's doing much better now and is back at the store after only a month off. He cannot stay at home for long, he goes crazy. Such a hard headed man!" "I'm glad to hear he is doing better. I will keep praying for his well-being, send him my best please" Julia says goodbye to Ma. Guadalupe and leaves the church.

Mauricia, Teresa, and Maria del Carmen are waiting outside the church as Ma. Guadalupe makes her way to meet them. "Hello ladies! My, My, what are you two doing here? Is it not too early for you both to be here this lovely Sunday morning? You two should be at home cooking, cleaning or whatever you like to do." At that moment, Mario walks up and greets Ma. del Carmen and Mauricia. Ma. del Carmen introduces him, "Maria Guadalupe, this is Mario Acevedo, my suitor." "Oh dear! My sister finally left the house to meet other people! No wonder your at church. " Maria Guadalupe says as she laughs and places her hand over her mouth. Mauricia pinches Ma. Guadalupe on the back while she is pretending to hold her lovingly. Ma. Guadalupe glares at Mauricia and says, "I have important things to do today. I must go, it was a pleasure to meet you Mr. Acevedo." Mario does not know what to make of the introduction but is not interested as Ma. del Carmen is there and that is all that mattered to him.

Mauricia and Teresa make their way back home as she leaves Ma. del Carmen and Mario at the Plaza in front of the church. She knew they wanted to be left alone to talk. A block down into her walk, Mauricia decides to go to her father's store to check on him. "Father! Hello?" Don Leopoldo answers, "I'm in the back packing!" Mauricia makes her way to the back of the store and sees Don Leopoldo placing heavy parcels on the top shelf. "Father! Now the doctor said you need to take it easy at this time! Where is Juanito?" Don Leopoldo says, "I sent him to run an errand to pick up more packing paper. Mauricia do not worry, I'm fine," as he pats her on the back. Teresa puts up her hands and says, "Buelo!" Don Leopoldo hands over a tiny cup of gelatin and a small spoon to Teresa and tells her, "Here is a gelatin for my princess." He turns around at Mauricia and says, "Mauricia, I will come in as soon as Juanito gets back, agreed?" Mauricia agrees and says, "We'll meet you inside father. Lunch will be waiting for you."

The day passed calmly, aside from Ma. Guadalupe's rude remarks, Don Leopoldo came in and ate lunch and Mauricia sent him upstairs to rest in his room. Ma. del Carmen comes back home and says goodbye to Mario. Both Ma. del Carmen and Mario are smitten as Mauricia can see. Mauricia greets Ma. del Carmen, "Hello Ma. del Carmen, did you enjoy yourself today?" Ma. del Carmen grabs Mauricia's arm and says, "Of course sister, I had a wonderful time. Mario and I can sit for hours and discuss many things. He is very smart and has a kind heart." Curiosity kills Mauricia and she asks, "I remember you ordered your wedding dress. Is Mario planning on asking for your hand soon? I cannot see you buying a dress for nothing." Ma. del Carmen grins and whispers to Mauricia, "Mario is planning on asking for my hand tomorrow!" Mauricia tells Ma. del Carmen, "That is enough for me! Let's make dinner!"

Carmela comes home as she had a headache and asked that her dinner be brought to her room. Don Leopoldo and Carmela have not shared a room in years and they each slept in different living quarters. Ma. del Carmen races upstairs to take her mother's dinner. "Knock, Knock." she knocks on the door. "Come in" answers Carmela. Ma. del Carmen tells Carmela, "I have your dinner mother, where would you like it placed?" Carmela had a cold wet cloth over her eyes to alleviate any discomfort. She told Ma. del Carmen, "place it anywhere, I don't care." Ma. del Carmen places her mother's tray on her dresser and sneaks out of the room.
Later that night, Mauricia is brushing Teresa's hair in Ma. del Carmen's room. "Ma. del Carmen, can I ask you something?" asks Mauricia. Ma. del Carmen turns around from putting up her clothes and says, "Of course, go ahead." Mauricia clears her throat and asks, "When you get married to Mario, can Teresa and I come to visit?" Ma. del Carmen smiles and says, "I would love to have you over as much as possible. Mario loves you and Teresa as much as I do." Mauricia laughs and says, "I should be mad at you. You're leaving me alone to cook and clean for everybody. That is not the real problem, I am more afraid of Carmela." Ma. del Carmen responds, "As long as father is here, mother has no say so about you and Teresa. He takes care of everyone, including my mother. She will act rudely but do not listen to her, she is a bitter woman who enjoys material things instead of family." Mauricia gives Ma. del Carmen a mischevious smirk and says, "Thank you Ma. del Carmen, you have given me a bit of hope after you move out. Teresa and I will miss you, but if anything happens with Carmela we are moving in with you." Maria del Carmen hops into bed beside Mauricia and says, "I am not married yet, stop kidding around Mauricia. Do you want to sleep in my room tonight?" Mauricia likes the idea and agrees to stay in her room. They both stay up talking about childhood experiences and Ma. del Carmen's wedding preparations until they doze off to sleep.

Mauricia sits up immediately in bed the next morning as someone is knocking on Ma. del Carmen's door. Ma. del Carmen opens the door and Andres and Miguel tell the girls they overslept and to get up. In a hurry, Mauricia gets herself and Teresa ready and meets Ma. del Carmen in the kitchen. "What happened to us?" asks Mauricia. "We stayed up too late talking and we overslept." Ma. del Carmen answered. Mauricia wonders aloud while counting on her fingers, "Andres and Miguel prepared coffee for themselves this morning. Poor father did not have anything. I'll take something for him to eat at the store." Ma. del Carmen begins to prepare some egg sandwiches for Don Leopoldo and places them in a pail for Mauricia to take to the store. Carmela appears at the door, disheveled, and pale. Carmela asks Mauricia, "Where are you going with that pail?" Mauricia looks over at Carmela and freezes in place and says, "I am taking father breakfast as Ma. del Carmen and I overslept. I'm sorry, it...." Carmela interrupts Mauricia and says, "Don't bother going to the store, call the doctor, I think your father is dead." Mauricia tells Ma. del Carmen to run to the room while she tells Juanito to find the doctor. Juanito races away in search of Dr. Lazaro. When Mauricia returns to the house she runs upstairs to find Ma. del Carmen sobbing over her father's body on the floor. Carmela says, "It looks like he might have had another attack and tried to get up for help." Mauricia kneels down next to his body with Teresa wailing in the background. Mauricia's thoughts begin to race and she wonders, "God why him? I know I should not ask, but was I too happy for too long that he had to be taken away?" Andres and Miguel arrive shortly after as Juanito found them on their way to their bus stop. Andres yells as he shakes Don Leopoldo's body, "Father! Father! Don't leave us. Please!" Dr. Lazaro runs in and immediately moves everyone out of the way to take Don Leopoldo's pulse. He pulled out his stethoscope to check his heart then looked up at everyone and said, "I am very sorry. Don Leopoldo is dead."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Beginning or The End? (Ch 12)

"Can you find me Teresa?" Andres yells out. "No, Teresa can you find me, don't listen to Andres!" yells Miguel. Teresa giggles as she is looking behind doors and plants in the patio. Teresa follows the voices around the parlor and looks behind the curtain and finds Andres. Andres scoops her up and gives her a lollipop. Miguel runs out rubbing his knees and says, "I'm glad she found you first, I did not think I would last another minute crouched under the table. I think we're too big to be playing las escondidas (hide and seek) with her." Andres nods and says, "I couldn't agree more, but if it keeps her entertained for a while, I'll do it. Would you rather play with dolls?" Miguel smacks Andres on the back and says, "alright, you've made your point."

Mauricia and Maria del Carmen are in the kitchen putting up clean dishes when Andres and Miguel walk in. "Mauricia can you show your daughter another game, please?" Miguel exclaims, "all Teresa wants to do is play las escondidas." Mauricia responds, "There is no other choice, that is the only way I could keep her entertained for hours while I cleaned the house. Teresa would hide, while I counted aloud, and spent some time cleaning, then ran out to find her. We would start over as soon as I found her. The problem with you men is that you are playing it backwards." "Backwards?"asked Andres. "Yes, backwards." answered Mauricia. "Teresa is the one that needs to hide and you count out loud. Of course, you show her the easy hiding spots in the house. She will only hide in the designated spots and Teresa will be easy to find." Miguel lets out an intense laugh and points at Andres. "We have been playing las escondidas backwards with a three year old!"

Don Leopoldo walks into the kitchen carrying a bag full of groceries and places it on the table. "What is all the laughter about?" asked Don Leopoldo. Andres looks at his father while laughing and says, "Miguel and I have a lot to learn about children, father." Miguel and Andres leave the kitchen cackling down the hall. Mauricia and Ma. del Carmen look at each other smiling when Don Leopoldo says, "Well, Licensiado Tomas turned over the certified documents stating your a Delgado, Mauricia. Everything is now official." "That's wonderful father." says Ma. del Carmen.

Someone rang the bell at the front door. "I'll go see who it is," Ma. del Carmen states. In the meantime, Don Leopoldo takes advantage of the moment to whisper to Mauricia, "Tomas helped me redo my will and both you and Teresa are included. I want to make sure you are taken care of if something happens to me." Mauricia puts her hand on his mouth and tells him, "Do not say such things. I have lost too many loved ones and do not want to lose you too." Don Leopoldo gives Mauricia a hug as Ma. del Carmen comes in the kitchen. "Father, do you have a moment to come to the parlor with me?" Don Leopoldo responds, "Yes I do, I left Juanito tending the store, I have a couple of minutes."

Don Leopoldo walks down to the parlor, and upon entering the room Mario stands up to greet him. Ma. del Carmen introduces her father to Mario, "Father, I would like you to meet Mario Acevedo." Mario extends his hand to greet Don Leopoldo and firmly shakes his hand. Don Leopoldo is immediately impressed at his grip and asks him to sit down. "What can I help you with Mr. Acevedo?" asks Don Leopoldo. "Well, Sir, I have come to your home to request to socialize with your daughter, Ma. del Carmen. I have come over to talk to her on occasion and I would like to take her to the park or any event that may come up. I felt the need to formally request this from you as I am very interested in your daughter, and have the upmost respect for her." Don Leopoldo sits back further in his seat and examines Mario and looks over at Ma. del Carmen. Don Leopoldo waits a couple of seconds and sits upright with his arms crossed and says, "Mr. Acevedo, thank you for being responsible enough to ask me as a gentleman. I see no problem in you socializing with my daughter, just remember, she has two older brothers, eh?" "Of course, I am aware of that." Mario immediately thanks Don Leopoldo and shakes his hand again in nervousness. Don Leopoldo says, "Your welcome Mr. Acevedo, but remember to respect my daughter. On another note, I would like to invite you to dinner this Friday with the family, please come, we can get to know each other at that time." "Of course Don Leopoldo, thank you. If you will excuse me I need to go back to my house to tend to family matters and I will come back on Friday." Don Leopoldo accompanies Mario to the front door with Ma. del Carmen following shortly behind. Mario waves to Ma. del Carmen as he is leaving and she waves in return while closing the front door.

Maria del Carmen hurries back to the kitchen to tell Mauricia what just occurred. Before Ma. del Carmen is able to start the re-enactment, Don Leopoldo pops his head in the door and tells Ma. del Carmen, "I like that young man, I really do. I have a good feeling about him." Ma. del Carmen blushes and tells him, "Thank you father, I do too." Don Leopoldo tells them he is going back to tend to the store and restock. In excitement, Mauricia jumps up and down and hugs Ma. del Carmen almost knocking the table over. "I smell a wedding, I smell a wedding!" Mauricia sings. "Shhhh! Don't say that too loud." Ma. del Carmen whispers. "Why do you want me to be quiet?" asked Mauricia. "You promise not to tell Mauricia?" Ma. del Carmen looks in Mauricia's eyes with a serious stare. Mauricia assures Ma. del Carmen, "Of course, what is the matter?" Ma. del Carmen informs her, "Mario has secretly proposed to me and he ordered my wedding dress under a false name." Mauricia's eyes almost bulge out of her head and says, "Really? Ma. del Carmen! You sneaky thing!" and slaps her arm with the washcloth. Mauricia hugs her again and says, "I cannot be happier for anyone else in the world at this moment. You deserve it." Both ladies decide they must start preparations for dinner and stop the conversation in case Carmela comes home or one of the boys overhears them.

Several hours later at dinner. "The chicken soup was wonderful! My compliments to the chef!" Andres wipes his mouth with a napkin and pats his belly. Miguel is working on his second helping of soup while Ma. del Carmen, Mauricia, and Teresa are eating. "We're glad you enjoyed it" Ma. del Carmen responds. "Mauricia and I make a great team as cooks. Mauricia, we need to watch the boys and make sure they leave enough for mother and father."

The bell for the front door begins to ring over and over. Miguel exclaims, "Let me see who that is!" and runs to the door. A loud scream is heard in the distance and then the heavy pounding of footsteps can be heard in the distance and become louder as they get closer to the kitchen. Juanito, instead of Miguel, runs in and yells, "Help! Don Leopoldo has collapsed in the store and we need a doctor! He's unconscious!" Everyone immediately runs to the store to their father's aid.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Reunion (11)

"Tap, tap, tap", Maria del Carmen knocks on Mauricia's bedroom door. "Tap, tap, tap", sighs Maria del Carmen, "Open the door, I know you have been crying again, don't hide." As Maria del Carmen looks away the door creaks open. "I did not want to go to breakfast with a puffy face" said Mauricia. Maria del Carmen maneuvers Mauricia's chin upward to get a good look at her face. Mauricia's eyes are bloodshot. "Tia Calmen!" Teresa shouts with open arms. Ma. del Carmen picks up Teresa and kisses her on the cheek and carries her. "What have I told you about remembering the past, Mauricia? The past hurts, especially thinking about Francisco. You know he is married, who knows he's probably dead, and your still not over him?" Mauricia walks towards her bed and Ma. del Carmen follows her into her room, "Ma. del Carmen, you don't understand, he was my support. No matter what I did to get rid of him, he withstood my childish acts and insults. Francisco is the only man that knows the real me, not the labeled, single woman with no past, money or family. He never judged me for the things I went through, he loved me for me, and yet I let him come into my closed up world and he let me in his with open arms. My heart tells me not to forget Francisco again. For some reason our lives kept crossing paths and now in my dreams I am lost and hear his voice." "Sister", Ma. del Carmen strokes Mauricia's hair, "it's only a dream, don't keep up hope, as you and I know he is a lost cause. Let's get you ready, we cannot be late for today's reunion this afternoon."

The last time Mauricia and Teresa wore new clothes was at Maria Guadalupe's wedding, two months after Carlos rode into town. The wedding was a sight to see. The plaza was completely decorated with white flowers and the church was full of white flowers and laced ribbon tied into bows. Ma. Guadalupe rode into the plaza in a carriage. Carmela wanted a traditional wedding from the beginning to the end. Carmela almost killed Ma. Guadalupe as she had gained weight and the dress that was shipped from Mexico City fit too tight. Mauricia could not help but laugh remembering Carmela ordering Ma. Guadalupe to be on a liquid diet for three weeks. Mauricia and Teresa enjoyed themselves as Ma. del Carmen did not leave their side and she felt secure. Today was a special occasion as well, Don Leopoldo ordered a family reunion ceremony and dinner. Mauricia did not know what a family reunion ceremony involved but she knew it must be special if everyone was directed to wear their best attire.

While everyone meets at the patio, Carmela strolls by and asked Don Leopoldo, "How long will this reunion be? Do I have time to go to Antonietta's house tonight? She is having a gathering and I cannot miss what everyone is going to wear, supposedly Antonietta shipped her dress from Mexico City and I am dying to see what that wench bought. They probably did not have enough material for her." Don Leopoldo sternly looks at Carmela and said, "Carmela! You will have time for what you need to do, do not ruin this moment with your nasty comments!" Carmela rolls her eyes and walks towards the front door. Don Leopoldo excuses Carmela with Mauricia and picks up Teresa as they make their way to the front of the house. Andres and Miguel look very handsome in their suits as Ma. del Carmen and Mauricia both wear their new striped matching dresses they wore at the wedding. Don Leopoldo bought Teresa a light pink dress with ruffles on the bottom, a white bow for her hair, and white patent leather shoes.

Don Leopoldo stops two cabs as he, Carmela and Andres travel in one, and Miguel rides in the other with the ladies and Teresa. Mauricia whispers to Ma. del Carmen, "Where are we going? What is this family reunion about?" Ma. del Carmen giggled and said, "First, father has some business to tend to at the Municipio, then we'll make our way to the restaurant, any more questions?" Mauricia nudges Ma. del Carmen and she nudges her back as Teresa is slapping the back window of the taxi.

The cab driver jerks them back and forth and side to side until they arrive at the municipio. The family get out of both cab's and Don Leopoldo orders everyone to follow him. "Let's hurry before they close, I have some important business to complete before we eat. Licensiado Tomas is waiting for me." Mauricia is wondering, "Why is Licensiado Tomas waiting for father? what legal matter does he have pending?" Everybody is panting as they make their way up the front stairs of the municipio and once inside they had to walk up another flight of stairs to get to the second floor.

"Don Leopoldo!" a young man announces from down the hall, he walks up to shake his hand and gestures to the door he needs to go to, "Licensiado Tomas is ready for you, please come in. "Hello, Doña Carmela, how nice to see you", as he kisses her hand. Mauricia is awestruck as she has never entered such a large building. A large, heavyset man, with gray hair and a long gray beard stands up and grins. He looks very distinguished in his suit and vest. "Tomas, my friend how have you been?" Don Leopoldo hugs el licensiado and Tomas is equally pleased with his presence. "Very well, thank you, Leopoldo." Licensiado Tomas claps his hands loudly and asks, "Is everyone ready?" Mauricia looks around and asks, "what does he mean by ready?" Don Leopoldo walks towards Mauricia and takes her hand and says, "this is our special family reunion. I understand there are no words for the suffering you went through at such a young age until God led us together at this time. I have carried so much guilt for many years not knowing where you were or being there for you in your time of need. Mauricia, you were always a Delgado in my heart, and my family knew that for many, many, years. Today, we are legally recognizing you as a Delgado." Ma. del Carmen along with Andres and Miguel huddle with their father and Mauricia and hug her tightly. Mauricia is overcome with emotion and cries hugging Teresa tightly. Carmela walks up and quickly kisses Mauricia on the cheek and sits back down. Ma. del Carmen starts to wipe Mauricia's tears with a handkerchief and says, "don't start crying again, you do not want to walk around puffy faced.", at that moment, everyone begins to laugh. Don Leopoldo raises his hand and swears before the court that Mauricia is his legitimate daughter and legally recognized as Mauricia Delgado Manriquez. Once the licensiado and judge go over the paperwork and sign their parts, Don Leopoldo is ordered to sign acknowledging what was said is true. Licensiado Tomas presided over the meeting and afterwards excused himself from the family before going on to his next appointment.

Don Leopoldo summons another set of cab's to take them to one of the nicest restaurants in town, "La Media Luna" (The half moon). Mauricia is so overjoyed she feels she is walking on air. Everything in her world seems right for the first time in her life. They eat to their hearts content and listen to music played by the local pianist. Maria Guadalupe did not come to the reunion as she is in her first tri-mester of her pregnancy and she cannot keep any food down. Carmela excuses herself and leaves towards the end of dinner. Mauricia doesn't care if Carmela leaves, she is hardly around the house, and without her dinner seemed better.

After dinner, the night comes to an end, and everyone makes it back home. Teresa is deep asleep, Mauricia says goodnight to everyone, and walks to her room to go to bed. "Tap, tap, tap" someone is knocking on her bedroom door. Mauricia opens it and Andres hands her a letter, "Here, it looks like a letter came for you and since we were not here, the postman gave it to the neighbor, Adelita." "Gracias Andres," Mauricia responds and he walks away. Mauricia opens the letter and it looks like Carlos responded to the letter she wrote him a couple of days after their encounter. "Dearest Sister, I am excited to know I am an uncle and to have seen you after so many years. I feel terrible about the experiences you explained in your letter and now understand we both have suffered tremendously. You will be happy to know I am planning on ending my military career in another year as my contract is up. At this moment, I am at the border keeping order after the bracero program has taken place again. There is one question I have wanted to ask all these years. What is the name of the damn woman that made us orphans? I am going to hang her by the nearest tree when I finish my duty and make my way back home to Pinos. She deserves a just punishment for what she has done to us. She took away our mother, our protector, the woman we should be taking care of now. I wait for your immediate response. Your loving brother, Carlos"

Mauricia crumples the letter in a ball as she thinks about the times she saw Anabel in the street after her mother's death. Many times Mauricia held her tongue and the tears as she crossed paths with her on many occasions. "I cannot tell Carlos who it was, it would not help to tell him, he would only get her blood on his hands and now take the role of the punisher." Mauricia pulls out a sheet of paper and writes Carlos back. "Dearest Brother, I am glad you are with life, health, and work. I am excited to know you have decided to leave the military in a year. I pray God continues to watch over you and protect you from any harm. In regards to your question, I cannot reply. I will not give you the name of the woman that made us orphans. I do not want her blood on your hands, I could not live with that. Carlos, leave it up to God to judge her. She will get her day, we all will, but until then please pray that God provides peace in your heart to let it go and love to understand we only have one life. You are not a bad person Carlos, and I do not want you involved in such matters. Please write back. Your sister, Mauricia" Mauricia clears the tears from her face as she folds the letter and places it in an envelope. As Mauricia lays down in her bed, she whispers, "No one will ever know her name."