“You have to write an essay about college and what you think you need to get into one.” Mr. Escobar was writing furiously on the board. There were three columns ‘community college’, ‘cal state school’, and ‘UC’s’. “What about private schools Mister?” “What do you know about private schools Lorena?” “Like Harvard and Yale or Georgetown, what if we plan on going to a private school?” “Don’t worry about private schools, you can’t afford them. Focus on high school before you get married.”
I drowned him out and started thinking about what the requirements were to get into each school system. The library at school didn’t have anything about colleges, it didn’t seem to get used either. Instead of walking home I headed over to Malabar library and started pulling out the college prep books. An hour later I ran home with essay in hand.
Shit… As I got closer I could already feel his daggers sinking into my skin. My tio was standing by the gate with a beer in hand, blocking the entrance. Beer cans were all over the front garden and steps. Mi Apa was leaning on the fence with his head back beer to his lips. He gulped it down and before he could squeeze it and throw it aside, my tio handed him another Bud Light.
I hated it when they drank in front of the house. That’s why I never invited anyone over, why couldn’t they drink in the back?
“Hola tio. Hola papi.” “Saluda a tu tio bien, ven para aca.” I walked back and gave my uncle a quick hug, trying to mask my disgust.
“Donde estabas?” “En la biblioteca, tenia que escribir-” “Ve ayudale a tu madre!”
I ran up the stairs and went inside. My mother was in the kitchen heating up the food cursing my uncle for making my father drink, as if he had to be persuaded! She looked up just as I walked by. “Where were you?!” “I went to the library. I had homework.” “Get the table ready and take off your uniform.”
I cleaned the table, took out the salsa and started warming up tortillas. “Go call your father to dinner.”
“Papi, ya esta la cena. Papi, ya esta servido sus platos.” “Huhhh. Hmmm!”
All he could fucking do after so many beers was grunt like a stupid animal.
As they finally pulled themselves away from their beer they sauntered over to the table. I tried to sneak back into my room but my uncle pulled my arm and told me to sit next to him. I hated that fucking smell. He placed his arm around me and asked me about school.
“Para que tienes que ir a la bibliotheca? Aqui tienes todo lo que necesitas para hacer tu tarea.” My dad pointed to his head.
“Pero no tenemos computadora para el internet papi.” “No necesitas internet, cuando yo era nino yo aprendi todo mientras que trabajaba en las cosechas.”
Always going on about he was so smart in school and how he learned everything faster and how he had to do it all while he worked in the farm and missed four months of school during the crop season. He could never say anything good about me, neither one of them. If Mexico was so fucking great, what were we doing here? Why hadn’t he gone beyond the 3rd grade?
“Que Buena esta la comida Maria.” “Gracias Jorge.”
“Esta mierda? Si no vas a cocinar bien, ya te dije que no cocines!”
“Yeah whatever.” My mom got up to clear her dish. “Can’t even talk with your stupid crooked mouth. You look so ugly when you‘re drunk.”
My father got up, grabbed his hot plate and threw it at my mom, beans and hot pieces of meat flying all over my mother’s face.
“Pinche babosa! Callate la boca!”
My father’s eyes were opened wide full of rage. They seemed to change color when he snapped, his bloodshot eyes bulging out and his eye brows two angry lines cut into his face.
I got up and stood between them. I started to clean up and I could see him swaying over me unsure of what to do before he walked to his bedroom and slammed the door so hard that the veneer cracked.
My tio got up and muttered an apology before he scurried off.
My mother started crying uncontrollably about what a miserable asshole he was so I led my younger siblings into their room.
“It’s okay mom. He doesn’t deserve you. You deserve so much better. Just ignore him, he’s drunk.”
“Why does he always have to call me names? I told him so many times to not call me stupid! He’s stupid, he couldn’t live without me. When I leave then who’s stupid!”
“Mami, we CAN leave. We can live in an apartment and we would do all of the cooking and cleaning. You could go back to school and take computer classes and you could get an office job like you wanted. If you got a divorce we would go with you and help you mami. We don’t need the house and we could be happy.”
When she looked at me I knew that I had gone too far. She would never leave him. She would never be able to walk out the door.
“I stay with him for you guys. For my kids, that’s why I stay. So you can have a family and have a better life.”
“Yes mami, I know. I love you. Do you want to sleep in my bed? I can sleep on the sofa.”
I finished cleaning the dishes as she went off to my bed and I felt a huge lump of guilt bobbing up and down on my throat. What if he heard me? I should have known. She would never leave.