(New Chapter Jul 1) "TWELVE DAYS" (WORKING TITLE)
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Setting: Itzy and her parents have arrived in Guate City. This is the next day in the "luxury hotel."
Reception had a little jogging map but the young woman at the desk was pointedly unenthusiastic about Itzel taking it in running shorts and T-shirt. She went to the gym and got 45 good minutes on a treadmill and some upper bodywork before breakfast. She saw her father as she came out of the Gym. He stared at her outfit. “That only works inside, Honey. Don’t get too American, this place is worse than Mexico for a woman dressed like that. A lot worse.”
“I know Dad,” she said. But living in New England had changed her without her realizing it.
The three had just been seated for breakfast when a spritely nun waved to them from the hostess station. Elena rose, went to her and walked her arm in arm back to the table. The nun was older than her sprite persona. Dad’s age, Itzy thought.
“Sor Maria Lucia, may I present Itzel. The last time you saw Itzy she was just a lump in my belly.” The nun grinned stuck out a hand. “Sor Lucia is now Mother Superior of aunt Dolores’ convent.”
Sor Lucia bussed Itzy’s cheek and then stood back to gaze at her. ”You are a lucky girl, Itzel. Did you ever meet your Aunt?” Mother Lucia’s eyes glistened but not weeping.
“For a few minutes, at the airport in Mexico City. When I was a kid.” She said. Her father stepped in. He and Sor Lucia, held each other for a long hug. “During the peace negotiations, Dolores was traveling with a group,” he said.
“It’s amazing,” Sor Lucia said staring up at Itzy. “You look like your beautiful mother, but something about you reminds me of Sor Elena.” She looked at William, “Maria Elena will always be a sister to me, William.”
“I’ll be in Reu also.” Mother Lucia said. Let’s talk over the next day or so. I have a lot to tell you about your great aunt.” She smiled, “Things your parents don’t even know.”
“I hope we get a lot of time for that, Holy Mother,” Itzy said.
“We will,” she said and dropped into her chair. “If you call me Holy Mother I may get sick. Sor Lucia will do fine.” The others sat, William and Elena chuckled. Itzy reddened.
“Sor Lucia is handling the arrangements,” Elena added. “It’s good that Reu is out of the capital.”
“That too,” the Holy Mother said. “That too.”
The drive to Retlhuleu took three hours. The highway was wide and smooth till they reached the north-south segment of the Pan-American Highway. William drove the rental car, Elena sat in the front passenger seat, half turned so she could talk with Sor Lucia and Itzy in the back. Her father pointed out the exit to Antigua and said that Abuelita Consuela would be coming to the funeral and that they would visit her later. The morning began clear but by lunchtime it had clouded. El Volcán de Agua loomed to the north of them. Beyond it, two others that must have been higher looked ominous in the filtered light. Mexico had its share of volcanoes, but nothing like this, Itzy thought.
“Mom, do you remember that photo of you and Aunt Dolores with the volcán in the background?”
“Do you still have that?” Elena asked.
“Sure, why wouldn’t I?”
“Up to the volcán,” Sor Lucia murmured.
“Sorry?” Itzy said.
“Up to the volcán,” her mother repeated, louder.
“Your aunt used to say that,” Sor Lucia said. No one spoke for a moment.
“What does it mean?” Itzy broke the silence.
“Sor Elena used it whenever we were going to do something that might be a little subversive,” Sor Lucia said, “which was often enough.”
“Going up to the volcán was code for joining the rebels,” William said. “We all used it.”
They were quiet again and Itzy sensed this was not the time to push.
“I haven’t thought about it in years,” he said, “but saying it now—I realize how important it was. If you went up to the volcán, you were taking a step that you could not easily back out of.”
“That picture of me and Dolores with the volcán,” her mother said, “you’ll get to see that very one. Maybe we’ll take a trip up to Palo Seco where we had a clinic.”
“Let’s wait and see how this goes.” Her father said.
I wonder how Mom and Dad were able to get out of it.
They left the main highway to drive into the small city of Reu. Before reaching town, at the top of a long hill, William pulled the car to the side of the road, looked around for a minute or so. “We hijacked a truck once…right here.” He spoke in a hoarse voice. “That’s Reu in the distance.” Elena put her hand on his shoulder as he pulled back on the main road.
“Okay. If nobody else is interested, why did you hijack a truck, Dad? I thought you were a doctor.”
“Abuelo and his son and I used the truck to get into the airbase detention center. We managed to get my brother out.”
“You never told me that.” Her surprise showed and Sor Lucia put a hand on her knee.
“This is not the time to push—“ Elena said but William cut her off.
“I’ll tell you Itzy some of it but I don’t want to talk about it right now.” His tone stopped the conversation and Itzy was unsure if he meant tell her some now or later. Her mother’s tone told her not to ask.
“I found out that my brother was being held in the detention center. He’d been disappeared in 1970 and we all thought he was dead. We got him out but the next day we were caught again. Both my brother and the other compañero were killed. I was captured. Later Comandante Raúl and a group of compañeros set me free. I went to Mexico. Your mother went to Grandpa’s and Consuela’s house. The end.”
“May I add one thing?” Sor Lucia said.
“Sure.” Her father sounded tired.
“Your aunt Dolores was part of that fight to release your father.”
A queue of questions were about to erupt from Itzy’s mouth but her mother’s head turned, staring a familiar, not-one-more-word look. Itzy sat back feeling like she might explode.
Sor Lucia patted her knee and smiled. “There’ll be enough time,” she said.
Off to the east another volcán dominated the horizon. A chill rippled through Lela Itzel. Am I ready for this? The tingle was back.
Their motel, consisting of four small cabinas, sat inside a cement block wall with a gated entrance blocking the view from the street. The cabins belonged to a restaurant at the street’s edge. William registered at an office behind the restaurant, which also offered an internet connection for guests. William and Elena stayed in the larger cabina with a couch and an oversized bathroom. The shower had a full-length window that allowed someone in the bedroom to see in.
“What’s that about?” Itzy asked.
“Cabinas de romance,” her father said and left the rest to her imagination.
Itzy’s cabina was two doors away. It too had a full-length shower window and she lay back on the bed and began to imagine Russ doing his thing in the shower. Of all the guys in the boy’s boat, he had the cutest ass. Itzy had imagined him, and it, long before they began to talk. She felt the urge to pleasure herself and her hand slipped instinctively below.
End of Day 3
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