"Look at all the dust! This place needs a good cleaning." Miguel shouted from the back of the house. Mauricia walked in and as she inspected their new home she put her hands on her hips and knew she had a lot of work ahead of her. Thankfully, the new home was only a single story and smaller than the old house in Salinas. Carmela looked around and slowly walked and smiled as she inspected the house. "I like it", Carmela said. Miguel and Andres were pleased that both ladies approved their taste. "We're glad you like it." Andres said. "Mauricia, we'll help you with the cleaning before the boxes are unpacked. Where should we start?" Mauricia eyed the house from floor to ceiling and said, "Let us start from the back and work our way to the front. We can sweep everything out of the front door as we work our way down." Mauricia had not felt this content in a long time. She missed her father and Maria del Carmen deeply and felt she could not stay at the house any longer if they were not there. Mauricia looked at Teresa and said, "Teresa, grab the bucket and walk with me, we are going to get water to start at the back of the house." The rest of the afternoon was spent cleaning and finally unpacking their belongings. Luckily, they arrived in Colonia El Meson on a Friday morning and had the rest of the weekend to accomplish this large task.
Within a couple of weeks both Miguel and Andres continued their studies and worked part time to earn wages to maintain the household. With selling the family business and the house they were able to purchase the home in El Meson and have money left over. Mauricia assisted the family by taking care of the house as well as cooking and running errands. Carmela began to come out of her depression slowly and made new friends in San Luis. Her time was taken up by her outings and trips back to Salinas to visit Maria Guadalupe and her newly adopted daughter, Lisette.
Mauricia appreciated her brothers' intentions about her well-being but became resentful after some time as she felt she was utilized the same as Maria del Carmen. She did not want to fall into the same pattern and told her brother's she needed space to go to church and begin participating in the religion classes. One morning as Miguel and Andres were preparing to leave to school Mauricia stopped them at the front door. "Wait!, I need to tell both of you something." "What is it Mauricia? We are going to miss our bus, hurry!" exclaimed Miguel. "I am going to the church to speak with the priest and ask if I can teach religion classes." Andres blurted out, "Okay, okay, tell us more about this tonight. We must go! Don't forget to pick up my shirts from the tailor and iron them before graduation." "Do not worry brother, I will be more than happy to get your shirts." Mauricia assured Andres. Mauricia dries her hands on her apron and with a mischievous smile knew they could not say no if she approached them when they were pressed for time.
Throughout the day Mauricia cleaned the house and made a list of items she needed to purchase at the mercado. Mauricia looked down at Teresa while she played with her doll. "Are you ready to go to the mercado Teresa?" "Si mama." answered Teresa as she stood up and grabbed onto Mauricia's hand. Mauricia heard footsteps from the front door and was surprised to see Miguel walk in. "What happened? Are you alright?" asked Mauricia. "I am fine, sister. The professor was called away on an emergency and classes ended early. I thought I would take Teresa to the plaza to watch the dancing monkey and feed the pigeons." Mauricia looked down at Teresa as she gleamed a large smile. "Alright Miguel, but watch her and do not let her stray away too far. This will work perfectly as I will meet with the priest after going to the market." Mauricia picked up her straw bag for the grocery items and her list as she headed out the door.
Everything in San Luis moved faster and was more crowded than Salinas. Mauricia could not help but turn around and look at everything twice in amazement as she walked down the avenue. The buildings were large and people walked as if they were in a race to get somewhere. "My life here will definitely change." Mauricia whispered to herself. Later on, Mauricia picked up the groceries at the mercado and arrived in time to pick up Andres' shirts as the tailor just finished the alterations.
Mauricia was carrying a heavy load and could not avoid bumping into people. "Excuse me. I'm sorry. Oh, I didn't see you." were the words Mauricia offered after each personal intrusion. In an instant Mauricia felt a jerk from Andres' shirts and soon realized someone stole the shirts and was running down the street. Mauricia began to run after the man yelling, "stop him! help! my shirts!" As Mauricia was running down the second block she knew she had to catch up to him to get Andres' shirts. All of a sudden the man made an abrupt stop and Mauricia bumped into him. She attempted to grab the shirts and the man turned around. "Francisco!" Mauricia yelled. Mauricia did not know whether to hug him or grab her shirts and run.
"Hello, Mauricia." said Francisco as he grinned and stared at her. "Give me my shirts!" Mauricia demanded as she swiped her arms in the air to grab the shirts. As Francisco was taller he moved the shirts from one side to another to avoid her grasp. "What do you want? You ought to be ashamed. Your a married man!" Mauricia protested. Francisco started to walk again at a fast pace and Mauricia ran behind him again. "What are you doing? Francisco where are you going?" Mauricia asked again. Francisco blurted, "Mauricia, the only thing I can say at this moment is that life has brought us together! I have looked everywhere for you and I am not about to lose you again! "You are married! There is nothing else to do Francisco!" Mauricia shouted at him. Francisco turned around and said, "I am in the middle of my divorce Mauricia. The witnesses at my wedding have written letters on my behalf acknowledging that my parents forced me to get married while heavily medicated. My so-called wife, Anna, has been terrible. She disappears, when I am at work, and goes to bars and leaves our two children behind. While I am at work the authorities call as my children cry because of hunger and the neighbors report she has not been home for hours to tend to them. I tried to make this work as we were married by the church but there is no way this relationship will work as she is not a wife! Do you see the scar on my forehead? She threw a rock at me when I told her I was going to leave her. I did not hit her, I left the house. Mauricia I came to San Luis to look for you as I finally had the courage to talk to Cipriana and tell her my situation. The only thing she advised me was to pray to God and whatever was meant to be will happen. She directed me to San Luis and to hope for the best but did not tell me where you were. Do you not see? We are meant to be together." Francisco stepped towards Mauricia. "Stop it! Stop it! Don't touch me", Mauricia backed up and waved her bag of groceries at Francisco. "Do you not understand how much time it has taken me to forget you?! Many nights I've cried myself to sleep only to wake up and realize my heart still ached. Stop talking! I do not want to hear you anymore. Please give me my shirts and I will be on my way." Mauricia puts out her hand and Francisco hands over the shirts. "Mauricia, please give me some time to explain my situation. If you ever have time you can find me at the railroad by downtown. I work there; just ask for me by name." Mauricia tells Francisco, "I will pray for you and hope you find a solution to your problems." Mauricia turned around and hurried back down the street gripping her grocery bag and shirts.