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.
The next few days went by like any normal day. I woke up, went to school, came home and looked for something to eat as quickly as possible. One night was different though. I knew I wouldn’t go to church again, my parents wouldn’t let me. My mom was starting to get high like she usually did at night when we heard a loud bang on the door.
I was pretty much the only one who heard it because my mom was already in some other state of mind. When the banging ceased I went to go and open it fast. I took a few steps away when the door was flung open by my dad. He was drunk like usual but this time he had something else in his eyes, anger. He shot those eyes straight at my mom and I knew something was bad.
I ran behind the couch when I heard him start to scream at her. He was yelling about cheating and whore, but when I was that small I didn’t even know what those words meant; I couldn’t see how serious the situation was, I couldn’t stop it. My mom was crying like crazy. I had never seen her cry before, it brought tears to my eyes even.
Then I knew my dad heard my whimpers. His eyes went straight across the room towards me. I was so scared just by the look of them. He started to stomp towards me and I just kept crawling back until I hit the corner; I knew it wasn’t good. When he finally reached me he started to beat me. Through the blood and blurriness of my eyes I could see my mom. She was getting up from the floor a bit and crawling towards the door. Even at my age I realized what she was doing. She was leaving me.
Before she could get to the door though my dad’s eyes went to her again. He had stopped kicking me in the ribs and started his way to her. She started to cry again, shouting my name, but I was already beaten to the point where I couldn’t even move, let alone hear. I saw him pull out a gun and bam! He shot her dead. Then he looked at me and there was a sense of sorrow in his eyes. That was another thing I didn’t understand at that age.
He pointed the gun at me, put his hand back on the trigger, then suddenly turned the gun on himself and bam! He shot himself in the temple of his forehead.
About half an hour later cops came. I actually didn’t know this at the moment, I blacked out. They all came and tried to wake me up. I did after a few minutes and then they took me to he hospital. Of course I to pass by the door though. I could see my blood all over the corner, my mom’s blood and body over by the hallway, and my dad’s body in the middle of the living room with his blood splattered across the walls and floor with chunks of something else with it.
They were taking pictures of everything as I walked by. They took a few of me even though I didn’t know what for at the moment. Later on they told me it was for an investigation; all I could think was that there was no real crime and if so, it didn’t matter, they were both dead.
I was in the hospital for about two weeks. I got several broken bones and even more bruises. Afterwards they sent me to an orphanage; my grandma had been the last bit of family I had left.
The orphanage was tied with the church I used to go to, Saint Mary’s. They heard about the situation and gave me a lot of pity, which made me feel worse. It wasn’t that bad though, I just never wanted to go to the services and classes anymore so I played sick. That only got me out of it for a little while though.
When I walked into the cathedral the first thing I noticed was the picture. It was a man, bright light was in the background, he wore a robe, had long, brown hair, and he had pale skin. He was bleeding from his head with some wierd crown and was nailed to a cross.
“Why’s that man on a cross?” I asked one of the nuns.
“Some bad people put him up there,” she said in a trying-too-hard-to-be-sweet voice.
“Then how’d he get down from there?”
“Yes he did.”
“No he didn’t,” she said a little frustrated.
“Yes he did,” I said, “he was always with me whenever my parents fought. He told me everything was going to be all right. He would always be with me.”