Maria

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(On the first of September, 2012, I read this story at an event called "Salon Noir: Victorian Parlour Party." It was a gathering of artists, poets and musicians to get together and share their work. It was gothic themed and I wrote this piece exclusively for the event.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I just found this note. In a fever I wrote a story last night while enclosed here. I do not know where here is though. A tale I seem to remember told to me by a friend who heard it from another friend. Written in the shoes of the protagonist, I see. Oh, I love a good tale and to relive it in sight, set, and sound is like a moving picture in the retelling.

Ladies and gentlemen, phantasms of conscience, the note! It goes like this:

My name is Dolores Caysedo. Maria was my twin and she was to wed William Fermin, the most handsome (and richest) of creatures in Tauro, Colombia. Yes, I was jealous. I saw him first, a summer ago at church. William was sent to our town on an artist's retreat. An artist in Tauro! Can you imagine that?

He joined our congregation at mass that day and sat in the pew in front of me. What a sight to behold! A strong tanned neck and a billow of teasing curls rested upon his noble head. William turned to me and asked, "Pardon me, my lady. Would you be so kind to let me know if you so happen to have a spare hymnal at your disposal?"

Catching my breath, I took in the sight of his piercing blue eyes and full mouth. He looked like an Adonis statue amongst our humble assembly. An eternity must have passed between us before I nodded and shyly answered back, "Here, take mine, my sister and I will share." I motioned to Maria beside me and smiled the sweetest smile upon my countenance. Then I quickly directed a pious look towards the pastor who was about to commence his sermon. Mother gave me a soft nudge with her elbow while Father beside her furrowed his brows. Was it disapproval or hope in his eyes? I really could not say.

After church, as we were paying our appreciation to our dear Pastor, he beckoned William over to introduce our family. My sister and I curtsied deeply, but right at that moment, a cruel wind tore her hat away from her hair. William, without a moment's hesitation, chased after the hat and graciously caught in mid-flight. He came back, bowed and delicately placed the hat in her accepting hands. Their eyes met and that was the beginning for them and the end for me. Maria, you see, had won again.

She was graceful, kind, reliable, and amicable. I was clumsy, unkempt, incompetent, and unpredictable. Our faces, however, were the same oval face, the same dark eyes, the same auburn hair, the same swan like neck that denoted our fine lineage. People could only tell us apart by our contrasting demeanor. When Maria quietly sat, I constantly fidgeted. When Maria gingerly ate, I voraciously devoured. Maria was alert and always ready with a proper response or clever quip. I was slow to reply, often stuttering my responses, was prone to occasional faints. Mother and Father would throw their hands in the air in exasperation with me, while Maria, well, Maria always received their utmost admiration.

You see, now dear reader, I could never win. I was unfortunate witness to William and Maria's courtship. A love that blossomed rapidly from mutual affection to complete romantic devotion! I threw the mask of high regard and selfless happiness for their love, one befitting a caring sister. It was an old mask I grew from living a whole life with Maria.

One day I went for a walk and found William in our garden. He caught sight of me and called out my sister's name. I looked up into those loving eyes and his face became bright and soulful. I felt myself reaching out to him when something odd caught in my throat and the words tumbled out, "Dolores. It's Dolores, sir."

William looked back at me confused. I quickly ran up to my room. Feelings of shame, anger, and frustration powered my sobs. I wished to forget that horrible name, my name Dolores. I wanted the earth to swallow me whole. I wished to heaven above to take away all the moments, as with many things in my life.

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