Miss Owlette

Here's another piece of writing I did for class:

The yelling and throwing of cheap dishes were over for that night, and the police with their loud walkie-talkies who came are away now. The house for once is in complete disarray and is forced to keep its walls silent. Nobody permits them to talk, it wouldn’t change the fact that my parents were sleeping in different beds in different rooms and there’s a huge for sale sign at the front of my lawn. Everyone seemed so tuckered out by the night’s event, already entering their second round of REM sleep; I was wide awake, though, with a strategic getaway plan growing in my mind. Well not really, I’ve read about peaceful tropical places with crystal clear blue waters where everyone dances to bachata music all the time and fights are non-existent in my easy reader: English as a Second Language books.

With the aid of a night-light, my small hands and fingers packed the necessary equipment (or what would fit) inside my pink Power Rangers backpack: my cabbage patch doll, small cereal boxes, toothbrush, clean yellow panties and a couple of juice boxes. I made sure to move quietly and swiftly since my ma was sleeping in my bed, but after a while, I could tell they were positively not going to wake up anytime soon.  This made it easy for me to tie on my grass-stained keds and swishy sounding yellow jacket. I walked out.  I made it to the corner of our block and froze. Without the sun and aid of the bodega’s neon sign, the streets were dark enough for me to see tinkering flecks of white. I should’ve known not to take my third-grade class so seriously: these easy readers gave me no direction at all, so it was entirely up to me to head east, west, or across. Yet I couldn’t head east, west, or across because that required me to cross the streets alone. The crisp night air started to pick at my tiny fingers. I made fists with my hands and stuck them in my pockets as I waited for an answer to fly at me. Nothing came, and pretty soon I was shivering and getting tired from the juice boxes I was carrying.

                I turned around and walked up the steps to my home. Thankfully the doors were still unlocked. Things went back to their proper places as if it never happened. My bed occupied with my sleeping ma left enough room for my small frame, so I snuck in. We slept until she started to loudly snore near my ear. At that point, I got up and went to my sister’s bed. My sis had a weird habit of sleeping diagonally and kicking, so that didn’t last long, and back to Ma, I went. Her snoring has subsided enough for me to comfortably join her REM adventures.

                The heat of the sun passing through my windows and sitting on my face has awoken me once more in sweat. My whole body is sweaty and sticky. I don’t mind the clinging and peeling of clothing, haven’t minded it for the past fourteen years of living in apartment buildings that never cool but simmer, but half my face being tan, that I did mind. The morning’s ice cream truck jingle outside set forth a domino effect on my body, forcing me out of bed and into the freezer looking for a quick bite before starting my day. Frozen waffles it is.  Father’s day is tomorrow and the last time I spoke to mine was when my MTA card ran out, a month ago. I pick up the handset and start dialing.

                “Hey sweet face, still down for that party tonight?”

I’ll call him after speaking to sweet face, finding it easier to purr into handsets before speaking to dad. Sweet because he’s been able to bear my drunken hysterics and flailing arms of how I still love my ex and will continue to do so, with my tears ruining my mascara making my face similar to that of a raccoon’s. Now with an added visible “love” memorial on my left bicep for the ex, his affection towards me astounds me. It’s not what I crave or want, but I’m relieved to hear he’ll meet me there. I dial the next man barely in my life. He tends to be a mood killer with his serious tone of voice always asking the wrong questions about downloading movies off the net and never knowing my exact date of birth, luckily for me the awkwardness of our Spanglish conversation has been saved by his voicemail. A quick message wishing him a father’s day gives me a guilt-free tomorrow.

                In the kitchen I set the party atmosphere with a beer that’s been going through sweat problems of its own, taking long sips of it should set it at ease. The hotdog of the house, Miles, heard my mother approaching the door. He can’t see a thing, but his impeccable sense of hearing and smell blows my mind at times. His tiny elongated golden body runs to the door without tripping over loose shoes or bumping into any furniture and patiently sits waiting and whimpering. I hear her key turn in the door and Miles’ tail looks as if it will take off soon from the excitement he harbors just to greet her. She enters with purchases and shoves Miles aside with her glitzy gold sandal, just one of the many she acquired from her latest hobby. Shoe shopping. It’s weird though, I thought she was at the hospital earlier visiting her husband.

                She has yet to tell me what’s been going on, but she’s been there every day this month. For the past year her husband has been in and out of the hospital, but with him now staying there this past month is bit questionable.  I asked her about it two weeks ago and she said it was the flu. Sounds ridiculous to have the flu in the summer but I didn’t push her for more of an explanation. Never wanting to visit because of that death feeling and smell hospitals give off, she probably didn’t owe me an explanation.

“Ah-leeen” my mother’s broken English beckons me to greet her.

“Se murio”.

My ma’s calm and collected demeanor sounded as if she prepared for this day all her life. I, on the other hand, had no idea what to do or say, dreading this moment. A cigarette break was the only thing that seemed proper if she knew I was a smoker. My hands, needing to do something, went for the shopping bags she held and placed them in the kitchen. Sorting out the gifts she brought for the fridge, I placed them in their spots. Eggs on the first shelf, milk, and juice on the second, rice in the cupboards, shoes… I took them to her room. I come on out and wanted to hug her, knowing she’s not the type of person who will cry more. She’s not even crying to begin with, and it’s all so quiet. It makes me nervous.  Unable to bring myself to hug her, I tie my hair up in a ponytail and head to the kitchen to bring her a cold beer. My ma is sitting on the tattered couch my younger brother has abused over the years and I sit opposite of her. Waiting for something to happen.

Nothing happens for a while. We just sit in complete silence in this sweltering apartment sipping on our cold beers. I finish mine but she’s still working on hers, giving it slow lingering sips from time to time. I peel myself off the couch, hearing my skin and pleather separate, and head towards the beer in the kitchen. A sip from a new chilled beer gives me the confidence to ask a wrong question, “so what happened?” I immediately wished it was the television that said that, but it wasn’t on. Nothing but the metal humming boxes that claim to be AC’s were on. I couldn’t stay in the kitchen making things more awkward by fiddling with my hair so I start heading back to my spot on the couch. Really hoping the humming took my words and sliced them into thin air making it incomprehensible.

 “Se murio de SIDA”, her voice had become deafening in this tiny sweltering apartment. Or maybe it was what he died from, but my hands were no longer able to hold onto this heavy bottle. It slid right through my sweaty hands and kissed the floor creating an artwork of spilled beer and broken glass, never actually hearing it crash. I shall call it sexual disgust, because that’s how I felt at the moment: disgusted and unsafe through every pore in my body. Out of reflex I went into my room and dialed that guy’s number again. Ugh, and to think we were this close to acting out of hormonal rage. The thoughts are gag inducing. He answered and I sputtered out “I’m going away today” and hung up on his immediate questions.  And just when I don’t want to think about sex anymore, visual thoughts attack my brain one after the other flashing me into a state of shock of not knowing leading to more of me gagging. I needed to wash my face, my body, and my hands.

                Not knowing why or how this would help me I turn on the faucet in the bathroom and start washing my hands, until I hear faint crying coming from the living room. My throat tenses up and it feels like I ate a tennis ball. I return back to the living space and see my ma on her knees cleaning up my art piece, crying silently as if she was embarrassed to let me see. Miles is at her heels licking up some residue. I grab some paper towels and join her, shooing away Miles in the process. Together we clean up the mess, and her crying has gone from silent to not there.

“Let’s watch a movie” I ask her when the last of the glass bits is trashed. 

                In her room I set up the television, pushing buttons leaving a sweaty handprint behind. I open the windows and turn off the AC to hear the sound better. My ma kicks off her sandals and lies on the middle of her big bed getting comfortable in its mess of pillows, there’s enough space for my tiny frame without cutting off her view so I slide next to her. We watch the movie in silence until I hear her snoring lightly. Not wanting to think of any “what ifs” I lay there awake watching this movie with my shirt slowly absorbing my sweat. Sometime during the night, I fell asleep in her bed, leaving us to each other again.


My ma wants me to finish it, and now I wished I never let her read it, but she did tell to title it "In the Meantime".