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Waiting in the moonlight …

When Estrellita returned home to go to bed, Isabel was waiting for her, sitting in the dark, watching the moonlight beyond the patio. Her daughter entered the house quietly. It was obvious she did not want another confrontation with her mother. But Isabel was determined. She thought her daughter must be in some kind of trouble, for what other explanation could there be for this unusual behavior?

When her daughter was halfway across the dark room, Isabel spoke softly.

“Lita, I want us to talk,” she said.

There was a gasp and she heard her daughter stumble. Isabel switched on a small light next to her chair. Her daughter blinked, looking like a wary cat.

“What are you doing sitting there in the dark?” Estrellita asked. “You nearly scared me to death. I’m tired. I don’t want to talk now.” She continued toward her room.

“Do you think we can go on this way? Living in the same house? Arguing and not arguing. You being secretive all the time, staying out all night, not telling me what is going on in your life. You think you’re not a child anymore but you’re also not a grown woman. Not yet.” Isabel called after her before she could reach her bedroom.

There was silence for a few minutes. Isabel waited to hear a door slam. But nothing happened. She stood and walked to the back of the small house and there, standing in the hall, her daughter was staring at an old, framed photograph hanging on the wall outside her room. It was of the two of them at the beach. Estrellita was about four. She was wearing a bathing suit and holding a swimming tube. She looked up at her mother who smiled at the camera. They held hands, her mother bending down slightly.

“You’re right, Mamita,” she said softly, but with a resentful edge in her voice. “I’m not a grown woman yet. But I’m not a baby either. And you were not much older than I am now when you had me, were you?”

“That’s right. But this is not about me. This is about you and what is going on with you right now and not what happened with me so long ago,” Isabel said.

“Then what do you want to hear?” Estrellita asked. “Do you want to hear about why I stay out at night? Then I will tell you. I stay out because … ” and she stopped talking, her breath catching in her chest with a deep sigh. “Because I am … ” and she stopped again. And then she blurted it out. “Because I am in love. And the man I love is going away and we wanted to spend as much time together as we could before he has to leave.” She sank against the wall and her shoulder bumped against the edge of the picture frame.

“Ay, Dios,” Isabel said and her hand went to her throat.

Isabel, Episode Eight

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