Words: Riquelmy Sosa
I could feel the swaying of her nightgown shadowing in behind me and with each step of her gliding feet, I pushed the clothes further down the barrel of the washing machine. I inched my way past her trying hard not to knock over the cafetera on the stove and half-avoiding the sharp seams of the plastic covering the kitchen table. I almost caught a win when she stopped me with her glare, “Y que te pasa a ti?” “A mi? Nada, Mamá,” I blurted out with a smile so wide I was certain I looked like a cheap ass clown. I knew she could tell I was lying. I felt her gaze follow me into the narrow gap between the kitchen and the bathroom. I sat on the toilet seat and traced the cracked drywall on the ceiling. In a two-bedroom apartment loaded with more people than could fit in the White House, I was pressing my luck if I stood there for more than two minutes. But all I could do was trace and count – trace and count – the cracks from the ceiling to the heating pipe. My little cousin came back for the second time, “C’mon Marina, he pleaded, I have to pee. That’s not fair. Get out!” “Give me two minutes”, I yelled as I managed to pull my legs into the shower.
I ran the hot water down my back and scrubbed every skin cell until the Ivory bar faded into the sponge and my fingers went numb. I continued gnawing at my insides because he was still with me. I smelled the bitterness of the Presidente on his breath. I saw his hands on my waist pushing me into his hips. I felt his fingers trickling one by one up my thighs. I felt my heart drumming against my chest. I saw myself escaping from his repulsive grasp and reaching for the door. I could still hear the click-clank of the fifty locks dead-bolted to the door. And for the first time that day, I cried. I remembered my cousin outside the bathroom who must have been hopping from one foot to the other, with his arms flailing like a wild monkey, and wiped my tears. I left my desolation hidden on the droplets hanging from the bathroom mirror and emerged with the steam escaping through the door.