My life was always bad, especially because of my parent. My name is Maribell Quintanilla. My grandma raised me at her church because he was a very catholic woman, and I respected her for her faith. I was mostly with her though because my parents drank, did drugs and fought a lot. My grandma always wondered what happened to the daughter, my mom, she used to have; the one she loved.
“I don’t know but she’s just not like she used to be,” she would say.
“How was she abuelita?” I asked once.
“She was a lot like you, beautiful, sweet, and honest; but now she’s changed, like she got un mal espiritu,” she replied solemnly.
“Why doesn’t she try to come to mass and maybe she’ll tell one of the priests about it?”
“I don’t think so mija, she stopped going to church a long time ago.”
That was one of the last times we talked. I was seven years old, about to be eight. My grandma died about two months later. I thought it was kinda weird though, she had stopped taking me to church for a while and gave me a different bible a little while before my birthday and about a week before her death.
I hated not having her there. She was the one I always went to whenever my parents were drunk or high, but now I had no one. I always tried my best to lock myself in my room whenever they were like that because I couldn’t stand to see them; I never had before.
After a while I tried to go to church. There was a lady in our apartment building that went to Saint Mary’s just like my grandma used to. We had asked her for a ride only a few times so I hoped she would remember me. It turns out she did, and she would be happy to take me with her.
On our way there she had started asking me why my grandma stopped going. It felt awkward when the question first came out of her mouth. Silence fell between us and seemed to stay in the car forever.
“I don’t know,” I finally answered. Then I turned to her and realized she didn’t understand what I said because she only spoke Spanish. Yet her expression was grim and no matter how much English she didn’t know she understood by the tone of my voice and the silence between us. She left the church; she was never coming back.
The lady, I found out later, was Rosa Garcia. She gave me a ride back to the building and I got a key for my apartment from my parents, who had already started getting drunk when I left. As I walked into the living room I noticed how quiet it was. I assumed my parents fell asleep like they usually did whenever they got wasted.
As I started walking I went into the kitchen to get some juice. It reeked of whiskey and there were stains all over the cream colored tiles. It was probably from the day before because I also smelled a little bit of weed and I knew they hadn’t done that today. I opened the fridge hearing the creaking of the rusty screws that still held the old thing together and watching a roach come out of a crack in the wall and go across the kitchen to another one of its little homes. My parents never really fixed up the apartment or anything in it.
I walked towards my room with my cup full of juice when I heard some strange noises coming from my parents’ room. I guess they weren’t asleep after all. I didn’t bother to tell them I came home because I doubted they ever realized I left.
I sat down in my room and started to read my new bible. It was the first time I tried because it reminded me of my grandma. As I opened it I couldn’t help but realize it felt different, bigger I think. I looked at the table of contents first and realized that there were some names I never heard of before.
“Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Ecclesiastes…” I whispered to myself.
Then I jumped up a bit, startled. I heard a loud bang at the door, which I took as a knock from my dad. I put the bible away and went to go open it. As I unlocked it the door flew open from all the force my dad set against it.
“Where the hell were you?” I heard him yell at me. I knew he was still a bit drunk because of the pink glassiness of his eyes.
“I was just in my room.”
“Don’t lie to me,” he yelled as he struck me across the face. “Don’t do it again!” He screamed as he slammed the door out.
I sat there crying, patting the red mark on my face. It stung every time I touched it but the cool of my hands soothed it at the same time. They hit me a few times before but never that hard, but I guess it was because he was drunk.