Thursday, November 14, 2013

Halfway There . . .

Believe it or not, November is halfway over. This means NaNoWriMo is halfway over, too. 

Here is an excerpt from my NaNo Novel:

Rosita went about her business as if nothing had changed. She went to work, wired money to her sister once a week, helped her aunt with the housework in the apartment. She did her best to ignore the child growing inside her. She didn’t think of it as her child. If she thought of it at all, which she tried not to do, she thought of it as “their” child, as in the child of the men who raped her.

When she discovered she was pregnant her first instinct was to confess everything to Rodrigo, to throw herself on his mercy and hope he might still love her somehow. Yet how could she expect Rodrigo to play father to the child of her rapist? No, it was not possible. The more she thought about it, the more clear it became; She must never tell him, much less try to convince him to accept a child who would be a constant reminder of other men having her. She loved Rodrigo too much to ask that of him. Better she should let him go, let him find a new girlfriend, one who was less damaged. One who was not carrying another man's child.

Although it broke her heart, she stopped returning Rodrigo’s phone calls. She knew she should make up an excuse, try to let him down easy, but she didn’t think she could bear to hear his voice. If she did, she might lose her resolve. When his letters came she sent them back unopened, but so far he hadn’t given up writing them. Yet another one was waiting for her when she came home from work.

“Here is another letter from your novio, Rosita.” Filomena handed her a fat envelop, no doubt filled with page after page of Rodrigo’s angst at her lack of response.

“Oh. Thank you, Tia.” Rosita said politely without revealing her dismay. She took the envelope and tucked it into her coat pocket. She would write “return to sender” on it and drop it in the mail box tomorrow, on her way to the bus stop. She rubbed the persistent ache in her lower back. How many more letters would Rodrigo write before he finally gave up? Each envelope, with his familiar handwriting on it, was like another dagger thrust into her heart.

“Rosita.” Her aunt called her back as she took her jacket off and turned to leave the room. Her uncle would be home soon. Rather that sit in the living room watching TV while her Uncle studiously ignored her, she usually spent her evenings in the bed room she shared with Ovid and baby Lucia.

“Si, Tia?” Rosita turned to find her aunt looking at her intently with lowered brows.

“Come here, child.”

Rosita obediently stepped closer to her aunt, even as her heart sank in dismay at the look of understanding dawning in Filomena’s eyes.

“Are you with child, Rosita?” Her aunt’s tone was incredulous, but her eyes held only certainty.

“Si, Tia.” Rosita whispered. She cast her gaze downwards, unable to meet her aunt’s frank eyes. “I’m so sorry, Tia. I didn’t mean to bring another burden into your household.”

“Rosita!”Her aunt’s tone turned to one of reproach. “Look at me, Rosita.” Her aunt grabbed her by the upper arms and shook her lightly. “A child is never a burden, only a blessing. Perhaps your pregnancy is unplanned, but a child is always a gift from God. Do you understand me?”

“Oh, Tia! Not this time. This child is not a gift, it is a curse.” Her hands flew to cover her face as she broke down in tears, painful sobs ripping themselves from her throat. Haltingly, choked by tears, Rosita told her aunt what had happened to her in the dessert. When she looked up, she expected her aunt to be as shocked and appalled as she herself was.

“Ay, nina. The things that happen to us immigrants, no?” Her aunt’s face was filled with pity, and, Rosita realized with a shock, understanding. Filomena threw her arm around Rosita’s shoulders and guided her to the sofa, where she sat down next to her. “Crossing is never easy for us women, never. I crossed with baby Ovid in my arms, can you imagine? In that terrible heat, with almost no water, I somehow managed to keep him alive. There was another mother in my party, she was not so lucky. Her toddler died sometime during the second night. She carried her body the rest of the way, over two more days, for fear the coyotes would take the child from her and leave the body in the dessert for the animals to eat.” Filomena shuddered, remembering the horror.

“I wanted to help Abel, Tia.” Rosita’s voice was hoarse from sobbing. “I tried, I truly did. But I . . after . . . I just couldn’t. I wanted to explain to Tio Hector, but how could I tell him that? I was too ashamed. He already hates me, what will he say now, when he learns I’m pregnant?”

“Hush, Rosita! Your Tio doesn’t hate you!” Filomena’s voice was hard with reproach. “He’s a good man, your uncle. He is grieving for his brother, yes, but it has nothing to do with you. He was the oldest son, he was supposed to protect the younger siblings. First your father was killed, now Abel . . . It is only natural he should feel as he does. But none of it, Rosita, none of it is your fault. And he doesn’t hate you. Now now, not ever. Please, don’t let me hear you say such a thing ever again.”

Filomena wiped tears from her own eyes with the hem of her blouse. “You see, now you’ve got me crying, too, loca!” She laughed shakily. “Listen, you just let me handle your Tio. This baby is a blessing, you’ll see. You must love it, Rosita, because it is not responsible for what happened and neither are you. You are its mother, it needs you, that is all that is important now.”

“I will try, Tia. I promise.”

Rosita wrapped her arms around her growing midsection in a hug as a wave of protective instinct washed over her. Her aunt was right, the baby growing inside her had done no wrong. With a last shuddering sigh, she stood up, hung up her coat and followed the sound of TV cartoons to the bedroom, where Ovid and Lucia were waiting for her.

“Prima! Look at me drive my truck! Look!” Ovid made engine sounds with his lips and pushed the truck across the rug as Rosita scooped chubby Lucia out of the crib. She buried her face in the baby’s sweet smelling neck as she watched Ovid play.

Yes, she would love her baby. It was her baby, no matter who its father was. She would hold it as she held Lucia, watch it play as she watched Ovid. Guide and advise it, as her Tia Filomena tried to do for her, as her own mother had once done.

I will be there for you always, bebe. Please forgive me for thinking I didn’t want you. I do, I do, I do want you! She hid her face in Lucia’s silky tuft of hair as hot tears slid down her face anew.

Love it? Hate it? Have suggestions or criticism to share? Let me know in the comments below.

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