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Quinces

August

My father actively avoided my mother for the next couple of weeks. In fact, when school returned, he learned my mother’s route and took heed to never walk in the same hallway. As the local paperboy, he significantly sped up his walk when approaching the Castilla’s household and avoided glances in incidents when the girls were outside. He later told me that he regretted taking the time to repair his ego, because when he finally cracked my mom's hard exterior, it was—as he puts it—bellisima.

That day arrived when my uncle, going for a penalty goal, kicked the ball through the girls window. My father heard the shattering of glass, and with sweaty palms, peeped over and his heart began to race as he heard the girl's screams. My mother was the first to stick her head out the window, and though her curls blocked her face, my father’s heart rate rose exponentially as he saw her.

“Carajo, Estella you’re bleeding!” Tia Bibiana shouted, and with that, my father found himself hopping the gate and somehow transported into the Castillo living room.

He momentarily realized his death sentence if my Abuelo found him there, but with another shout from my mother, his worries faded. Jetting down the long narrow hallway, he glanced at the family pictures along the walls. There were baby pictures scattered throughout the house and my father wasted no time figuring out which was my mother’s with her mane of curls bigger than her body. He saw next, in order, the pictures of my aunts' quinceaneras, each preceding the next with a space awaiting the capture of my mother’s. He rushed toward the loud shouts of the girls and finally opened the door. Glancing between the girls and taking in the frilly room, he was grounded by my mother's shocked expression.

“Well, are you going to help or just stand there tonto?” my mother asked as the girls shrieked at the blood oozing from her foot. My dad could tell this was the closest my mother ever came to cursing and he couldn’t help but smile again.

“Bibiana, go get mami’s kit,” my mother sharply ordered.

His smile began to fade as my aunt pushed past him and came back into the room. He knew he had to act now or he would lose his opportunity forever.

“No, stop you’re doing it wrong. You’ll give her an infection. Get alcohol for the tweezers,” he demanded, surprised at his own authority.

My father looked around the room, trying to establish which corner was my mom’s. There were Bibles on each nightstand, but only one with a cover filled with flowers. He was looking for anything, even the smallest thing that he could use as his ammunition.

With the tweezer in his hand, he laughed and pointed to the book underneath my mother's Bible and said, “Really. Gabriel Garcia Márquez? I thought you were more unique than that, I don’t know. You didn’t seem as trendy as the other girls, but I’ve been wrong about many things,” he snorted.

“Excuse—” my mother screeched as my father plunged the tweezers to remove the glass.

“You should go before my parents come back,” she said softly, realizing his distraction. She finally looked into my father’s eyes and was alarmed at how much she enjoyed underestimating him.

Leaving the house, my father took a last glance at the images of my mother. He felt if he blinked profusely the images would remain in exact detail in his head and deepen their connection. He stepped to the doorway and came to a halt, captured by the surrealism that he was, in fact, in the Castillo home and had just been in my mother's room. He stood very still, wanting to freeze time and enjoy the moment longer even with the deeply buried fear that my mother's father would be home at any moment. He held onto his last embrace and moved with reluctance when he heard my grandparents pulling in. His now frozen posture was due to an ever-growing panic. He heard a wisp of air and falling behind him was a floating paper. He reached for it, catching it before it dropped and quickly read the pamphlet as he heard the car's door shut:

Join the confirmation class of 1992 at St. Rose of Lima. Enrollment begins September 1st to October 1st.

Quickly, noticing the magnet was the same flower covering my mother's Bible, he placed the pamphlet back on the fridge and exited, excited at another opportunity to be near my mother.