Topic: This is the story of a teenage girl's journey into adulthood, who must choose between her self-respect and the husband she once trusted and loved.
**************************** Mild Domestic Violence*************************
Marlia's terror of abandonment overwhelmed her leaving her empty as a broken egg smashed on a hot sidewalk. She clung to the edge of a pillar on the steps of the front porch weeping silently. The sun began to sink into the horizon as she watched her husband drive away for the last time. She held back her tears with all her strength until he turned out of the driveway. Her married life was over at the age of eighteen. Her precious unborn angel and Grandma Ia were both gone. Once again, she felt alone in the world.
Blindsided by the perfect man, she thought she had married. The echoes of their vows to honor and to cherish each other until death do they part were now nothing more than empty words from a distant enchanted dream in a Cinderella story. As she cried, she mumbled to herself, “This didn't happen to Cinderella, how could it happen to me?”
How stupid and foolish this whole thing called true love made her feel. How could she had been so wrong in her love for him? Her trust in him that was given so blindly made her feel so very worthless and stupid.
She had gone from her father's home to his and never once believe she had the intelligence or courage to be a worthwhile person on her own.
Victorio even sold their home to pay his credit card and gambling debts behind her back. The money was all gone; her credit cards were of no use, and neither was her soul. With head in hands and knees quivering, she collapsed in disbelief. She could not stop herself from screaming in silence and shaking her fists to the sky. Then a wail of pure agony filled the air of her country home.
With a thud, her head hit the edge of the steps as she gasped for air a suffocating pain cut through her heart. Her chest tightened in a stranglehold about her as she struggled to take another breath. A fog of darkness swallowed her with a paralyzing fear of hopelessness.
Although she had fainted, she could hear herself from a distance crying out to heaven. “My God, why have you abandoned me?” With those words ascending, she sank into dark despair as the sun disappeared in the distance. The words floated out of her mouth with no voice, “My God, why me?”
All she ever craved was a family, a home of her own, and a man to love her. However, she never believed in waiting for things to happen. She wanted what she wanted when she wanted them regardless of the consequences.
She grew up in a home of pretending church believers and old Hispanic traditions. She was given everything she wanted by her parents, except self-esteem.
Her home pillared on an old fashion macho value that viewed women as second class citizens. Her father wanted a son; hence, she perpetually strived to seek his love, attention, and approval.
Except for Grandma, Ia, who always held her to a stricter standard, and she never hesitated to express her opinion. She would continually remind Marlia, "In life, you will reap what you sow. So my child, be careful in what you want, for someday, you may get what you don't what."
Grandma, Ia, would usually be praying for the family, in her converted garage room, or visiting a sick friend in the neighborhood with homemade tortillas and soup. Her wrinkled brown skin and her peppered braided hair about her head made her appeared as if she recently walked out of an old John Wayne western movie.
As for the rest of the family, praying was always the last resort they turn to in times of trouble.
Faith was never their subject of discussion at their dinner table; attending church was only something they did Sunday morning. She and her family were always the first to volunteer for church socials.
Even at eighty-five, she was an avid reader, gardener, and powerhouse of knowledge. It never mattered how upset she became with the family; her hazel eyes perpetually glistened with kindness and love.
She constantly expressed her opinion on Marlia's behalf.
"Andres, I know you are Marlia's father, but your ways are too old fashion. She needs to go to college. The news says women can do a man's job. When I was younger, I wanted to be an archeologist, but my father was like you. Now here I am a burden on you and your wife."
"Mama, I am the man in this family; I make the rules as my papa did in our home. My wife and daughter will do what I say," Papa would usually reply. His need to always be in charge resulted in family turmoil.
Growing up, her parents kept their fights in their bedroom. Never realizing that Marlia could hear through the wall of the bedroom.
Her parents often had bruises that they covered with long-sleeved clothing and made up stories about how they bumped into doors or walls by accident. Her father was a truck driver and would take off on one of his long hauls after a regular weekly fight.
While growing up, Marlia's parents emphasized that her main goal in life was to find a husband.
Her parents had little regard for women pursuing a college education or working outside the home.
They encourage her to be a cheerleader, which would enhance her chances of marrying sooner and moving out. Despite the fact, she perpetually made the Honor Roll. They even encourage her to play down her intelligence.
"Marlia, you need to learn to make tortillas like your Grandma, Ia," her father, Andres, usually said to her as he ate at the dinner table when he was home.
"A wife needs to know how to cook if she wants to be a good wife. That's all the education you need," Her mother added.
Yet, on the other hand, her Grandma Ia would encourage her to pursue an education when they were alone.
"Marlia, the world is changing. You need to learn to take care of yourself; Don't be like me, and your mother always depending on someone else for your home and food."
Marlia's thoughtless spirit often propelled her into making the wrong choices. In her junior year, she met and fell in love with Victorio, a senior. For her, it was love by design and desire, and she had to have him.
Like most girls who have little ambition beyond marriage, she pursued the object of her desire with no regard for the consequences of her actions.
On Sunday morning, a week before Christmas, she and Victorio had an announcement for the family at the dinner table. "Congratulations, you are going to be Grandparents, and Grandma Ia will be a GreatGrandmother," she said with a big smile on her face.
"We are so happy for you and Victorio. We will have a Wedding next week on Christmas Eve. We wish you had gotten married first, but I'm going to be a grandfather. That is all that matters. I know it will be a boy," said her father.
"Victorio is marrying you, right?" Her mother added.
Grandma Ia sat quietly without a word at the far end of the table, holding her rosary in her hands. After a few minutes, she smiled and said, "I will buy the roses for your bouquet. All the women in our family wear roses on their wedding day. I will even give you my rose perfume as a wedding gift for good luck." Grandma Ia, always smelled of fresh rose perfume.
The following week on Christmas Eve, on her sixteenth birthday and two months pregnant, her family gave her away in a small quiet backyard wedding.
Victorio's family of origin was also a traditional Hispanic male-dominated family. They soon moved into a small over the garage apartment in his parent's backyard.
Marlia had a miscarriage at five months when she accidentally fell down the stairs in a rage of jealousy. She had been sleeping when she heard her husband open the door with his key at one o'clock in the morning. When he entered their one-room apartment, she turned the light on, scarlet lipstick across his lips.
In a rage, with her fist high over her head, she rushed him yelling, “You adulterer! I hate you! You promised to love me.” She was unconsciously following in the footsteps of her parents with the physically abusive behavior she witnesses as a child.
Victorio darted away from the doorway, unable to stop her as she ran out the door.
He had been abused by her before; however, he never wanted to harm her until that moment. He attempted to grasp her, although he was too late as she went flying down the steps. She shrieked with surprise as she hit the lawn below with a thud.
Victorio ran down as he shouted, "Papa, call 911 Marlia is hurt!" He pulled off his jacket to cover her; he realized her gown was damp with blood, along with her long black hair splayed across the ground.
Marlia opened her eyes and whispered, “My baby, I'm sorry!” before fainting.
Waking up the following day in the intensive care unit of the St. Agnes Hospital, she found her Grandma Ia sitting at her side, holding her hand. Still sleepy and bleary-eyed, she could make out the string of beads in her withered hands and hear the familiar whispers of prayers floating through the room.
Only a periodic beeping of her heart monitor interrupted the otherwise peaceful room.
Grandma Ia whispered, “My little one, our angel is in heaven. Don't worry. I will be going to him soon. You must learn to put your pain into prayer. Your parents are on their way from San Francisco. Victorio is outside; he wants you to take him back.”
Marlia struggled to keep her eyes open, “He still wants me? Bring him in. I love him so much, Grandma.”
They cried together as they talked about Victorio Jr.'s burial. Grandma Ia could see into their hearts. She knew they still did not know how to lean on God for strength.
For the young couple, life seemed to have new hope again, but it did not last long.
Victorio got a job out of a town as a truck driver with Marlia's father's trucking company. He only came home on the weekends.
By the end of their second year of marriage, they had bought an old country house on the edge of town and were talking about having another baby.
One weekend, when Victorio was in the shower, and Marlia was cleaning out his suitcase, a picture dropped out of his schedule book. Marlia suddenly could hear her grandma Ia's words of prayer fill her with the strength and courage she had never felt before.
Victorio walked out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his muscular waist. He froze in his steps when he realized Marlia had the picture of the other woman in her hand.
"I can explain, she doesn't mean anything to me," he said.
Marlia stared at the picture of Victorio kissing the other woman, sitting back on to the bed. Marlia stood up swiftly and walked to the bedroom door. She calmly said, “ I want you out. I do not need you in my life. I deserve better. I am worth more than you will ever know.” She tossed the picture to his feet. She stopped at the doorway and turned and said, “ May God forgive you for what you have done. I can not, perhaps someday I will. May he help you find peace. Good-bye!”
With her head held high, she left the room.
Within a week, she packed, while cleaning out a closet; she found papers in a shoebox. It was Victorio's gambling debts and a signed bill of sale for their house.
She had lost everything. How foolish she felt.
She finally realized she should have listed to her Grandma Ia's advice.
Soon she woke up realizing it was time for her to stand on her own. She wiped the tears from her eyes and the blood from her forehead. With her suitcase at her side and her grandmother's rosary in her hand, she sat up on the front porch step. A bright light touched her from a distance. Perhaps the reflection of light came from the setting sun on the horizon.
She felt a soft kiss on her cheek and the warmth of her grandma Ia's presence embrace her. She tried to focus on the light, the sweet smell of roses floated about her. It was the fragrance of her grandmother's garden from what seems like a lifetime ago.
Her Grandma's words floated about her in the sweet rose fragrance. “Mija, remember your life is a journey with many valleys that you must travel alone. You will never be alone as long as you believe. You are my granddaughter, and my blood lives in you. I give you my strength.”
She dropped to her knees and her fists melted into praying hands. She heard herself saying her Grandma Ia's prayers. She said, “What should I do now?”
She was no longer scared; with new hope for her future and prayers on her mind, she finally knew what her Grandma Ia was trying to tell her all along.
Marlia got up and began to walk away from the past and into the promise of a new future.
“Take your problems to the one who loves you no matter what life may bring before your path.” The words floated in the air around her; it was her grandma's voice.
From deep dark despair of “this is the end of me,” she felt herself give birth to the new feeling of this is a new beginning.
A flash of two shadows followed behind Marlia as she made a way out the front gate of her yard. It was an image of her grandma carrying a baby and walking behind her.
The image disappeared as quickly as it appeared. A soft white light guided her path from overhead.
Marlia felt new contentment and courage inside herself she had never known before as she walked away.
vocabulary: Mija-my daughter/dear