#101 – The White Dress – Claudia Gonzalez

We were sitting in an enormous rock about a mile away from the house when we saw a tumult of heartrending white gardenias marching their way up the hill.  They were girls who had done their first communion and were offering flowers to the Virgen de Guadalupe.  In order to have a better view of them, we ran and climbed on Maribel’s ceiling.  In contrast to our high location, these girls still seemed to be above the earth and most important above us.

For a moment Maribel and I agreed not with words but a glistening in our eyes.  A glistening that slowly rolled down my cheeks and added some salt to my lips.  One of the girls’ whose white gown contrasted with the darkness of her skin, stood out to me.  I saw her, I admired her, and I envied her.  She ran her fingers through her silky, black hair.  She was smiling as if knowing something I did not, as if she realized at that early age that she would be happy forever.  I had a hard time running my fingers through my spider-nest like hair.

Maribel who in spite of her mom’s opposition regarding our friendship continued to be my friend, said “Martha, why can’t we march?”  Knowing the answer but being no smarter nor wiser than that eight year old I said, “We can.”  And so our journey began.

We ran together and found the angeles as everyone in the street called them before they had crossed the street and were standing just in front of the bakery.  We worked our way to the inside of the group as if by doing so we could be invisible.  The problem was that we did want the people’s attention but not attention from el padre.  If the priest saw us, then he would probably tell our moms we were there without their permission.  So, we walked for about a block hiding in the very heart of the angeles.  However, because we were hiding we could not feel the joy we had seen in the girl’s faces.  As soon as we had an opportunity we moved our way to the very front of the line where everyone could see that we too were angels.

We celebrated our spotlight and Maribel managed to get flowers for both of us.  While placing a small white flower behind my ear, Maribel with an elegant smile said “We should do it next year.”  I remained silent and gave her a feeble smile.  This was not the way I wanted to do it, I did not want to march with my plastic sandals or my shorts that had a classic hole in the middle of my butt, I did not want to have to hide from the stupid padre and I wanted my own white dress with pink flowers in the top and a very puffy skirt on the bottom so that I could look like a queen.  I wanted flowers all over my hair to hide the lice, no, no, no, I did not want the flowers to cover the lice I just did not want lice anymore and I wanted my own underwear too, not my sister’s which I had to be pulling up every time I was wearing a skirt.  I was having all these luxurious dreams that seem more and more real with every step of my march that I did not even see when el padre grabbed Maribel’s ear and took her out of the group.

I was observing the girls in the sidewalk that looked just like me dressed in rags, unnoticed, unprotected, insecure, and worthless.  All of a sudden I felt as if my ear had been caught on a door.  “Ouch… let go of my ear, please,” I said.

“Chamacas, you know that you are not supposed to be here, you do not even attend misa, so get out!” the priest yelled.  Out?  What an idiot, we were never in, I thought.  “And don’t you think I’m not telling your moms,” then turning to the group, “all of you look at these two demonios who are exactly what you ought to avoid.”

Thank you padrecito for this stupid comment, I mean was it really necessary?  I guess, maybe if you really wanted to humiliate us!  And so with pain in our ears no greater than the one in our pride we walked home.  This time we did not march.

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