May 5, 2021
A character has lost an object that is of great value to someone they love.
Mami’s white gold hoop earrings were in that bag. How stupid had she been, bringing them with her? Dani had turned the place inside out, and there was still no sign of her bag, nor any of its contents. That was it, those were the only thing she had to remember her by, and they were gone. She sat on the floor, against the bed frame, and brought her knees to her chest. Sobbing, she looked around at the room that was blurring away with her tears. Maybe Roger would find the bag at some point, with time, when cleaning during the weekend or later on when moving out, and then maybe he’d call her and tell her to come get it. She couldn’t count on that, though, could she? But, where else could they have gone?
There was a little bag she always carried with her. Flower pattern, red and blue, her favorite colors. In there, her pills, two or three tampons for emergencies, and then the little terciopelo baggie with the hoops. She liked to wear them when she was celebrating something and then, wherever she'd spend the night, she would place them very carefully back in the little baggie, then in the bag, to make sure not to lose them. But that morning, after waking up to an empty bed, she had gone to the bathroom and discovered that the bag was gone. She’d had one or two drinks too many, she knew that, and Roger had insisted that she shouldn’t go back to her place alone and instead go home with him. But she remembered her reflection in the bathroom mirror when she took off the hoops and put them in the baggie—there were not enough drinks in the world that would make her forget to do that.
She knew she couldn’t stay there any longer. Roger expected her to be gone by the time he came back, that was how it usually went ever since she had broken off the engagement six months ago. She didn’t have it in her to just get married and have children, she had told him, the white picket fence was just not the right thing for her after all. She was more of the apartment type, on a busy street, the lights and noise at night, feeling alive at every moment. He had taken it well, promising they would stay friends. Ironically enough, the white gold hoop earrings had been mami’s gift to her for her engagement; it was abuelita who had given them to mami for hers. According to abuelita, once a woman got married, hoops were out of the question; she had to move on to more discreet earrings that represented married life. Until then, however, a woman was free to live to the fullest.
Of course, back when mami had gotten engaged, engagements didn’t last that long anyway. It was one, two month tops. Or sixty-three days, as mami liked to put it. Dani’s engagement to Roger had lasted three years. Three years, two months, and seven days. It had been after mami had died that things had gone south. Roger liked to blame grief and depression, playing good psychiatrist, but she knew that there was more to it. Once mami’s voice had been put out, it had been easier for her to see that a future with Roger wasn’t what she really wanted. Mami had always been crazy about Roger, ever since they had started dating during their first year of nursing school. To mami, Roger could do no wrong. He was the most dedicated, because he used to spend long hours at the library with her, cramming in books, and he was the sweetest, too, because he would drive her home after their study sessions, and bring some flowers or chocolates for la suegra. But to Dani, Roger was boring, plain, too predictable. He wanted to try and get into med school, which he managed just a year after becoming an RN, and then the next normal step was to get married and start a family.
For the engagement, he had invited her and mami to a fancy dinner at the best restaurant in the city, and his parents were there, too. Dani could tell that mami was uncomfortable in her modest clothes and simple hairdo, even if Don Roberto and Doña Cecilia, Roger’s parents, were from Colombia as well. Si vivieramos en Colombia, mamita, mami had said after Roger had dropped them off that day, yo estuviera de empleada en esa casa. Actually, mami wasn’t even sure that at some point, when she had first arrived in New York, she hadn’t been their empleada. But they had always been nice to Dani, and to mami, too, which was another reason why mami thought theirs was a match made in heaven. Not to mention that he was going to be a doctor, alguien de bien, much more than mami had ever dared to dream of, even for herself. Even after fighting tooth and nail to put herself through college and become an RN as well, mami didn’t seem to have much luck with men. They were all half-drunks and the occasional junkie—and mami was always proud to say, until her last breath, how proud she was that she had never, ever tried as much as a joint or a drop of alcohol.
But the beatings, that was different. Those were recurrent, and Dani had always seen mami in front of the bathroom mirror, concealer in hand, getting ready for work. Not once had she seen mami cry, but she had heard her sobbing a couple of times through the paper-thin walls. No man had ever come close to killing mami, even though Dani was convinced that she was already somewhat dead on the inside. The thing was that, for mami, those men had always had a redeemable quality. This one had brought her soup after chemo, this other had taken her out for dinner for her birthday. After some time, though, Dani had started seeing mami’s love for Roger not as a good thing but more as a red flag. She had called the engagement off two months to the day mami was buried, and it had been the biggest relief she had felt in months.