Pretty in Pink
They said it might help some, if I talked to you, so I hope it’s OK.
Pop was eighteen, Mom – sixteen, when they married, and I was three. Mom, little more than a kid herself...same as me, and like me, she had her reasons. Ghetto raised – desperate to escape, Pop was her passport to a ‘better life’. He lived in the ‘tugurios’ with running water, and the rats didn’t bite as hard, or as often.
Slave-drivers, them rich folk they worked for...posh side of San Salvador, but even they weren’t free; their ‘casa-grandes’ protected against street-gangs by brick-walls, three meters high, with electrified barbed-wire, watchtowers, gun-ports, and closed-circuit TVs.
Barely eight, I was, when civil war started; one of many, our family hid in a bombed-out school. Until the soldiers came. Terrified – torn from our parents’ arms we were forced to watch as they were systematically shot, each one...in the head, and what I wouldn’t give for Mom and Pop to glimpse their granddaughter, right now. But that would be asking for a miracle and I guess you're fresh out of those.
Herded into helicopters, what they did to us girls had us wishing we’d bought it too. After what seemed an eternity, they auctioned us off – like chickens, to the highest bidder; in my case, ‘bible-bashers’, if you’ll pardon the expression, who couldn’t resist my, ‘to-die-for, choose me eyes’; eyes that couldn’t see past hunger and deprivation. Later, traumatised, I rebelled – in every way I knew how.
Fourteen, and I’d still wet the bed. At school – kids with small-town American accents, minds to match, labelled me a ‘no-good nigger’ – shoved my head down the lavatory; threatened worse if I grassed. But one boy was different. Said he loved me, and I believed him, but when I got pregnant he did a runner from the cops. I searched for him everywhere. Slept rough for six months.
Them ‘bible-bashers’ sniffed me out, though...duffed me up. ‘Beating sense into me’, they called it. Bare-faced liars is what they were – said I’d attacked them. Made out I was crazy. The authorities sent me packing here – where Sofia was born. She nearly died, you know, but she’s a fighter; six weeks old, and just look at her!
They say the “voices” will stop, eventually (except yours, I hope) and I’ll stop punishing myself...kick crack for good, and then I swear, I’ll walk free of this place; make a home for us. Read her stories...tuck her in bed. Say, ‘Sleep tight, don’t let them bedbugs bite.’ Teach her to say her prayers.
Until then...what of her tomorrows – soft, white fist cocooned inside my rotten, brown one?
A new world waits for her out there, tell me it does, and that one day she’ll understand I had no choice? Her father’s legacy – the colour of her skin, nobody can take away; it shouldn’t make any difference, but it does, and whoever coined the phrase, ‘What goes around comes around, couldn’t have been more fucking right! Sorry...shouldn’t use that language in front of you, of all people...
Only – make her stop crying, please. They’ll be here soon, her new Mom and Pop, and I don’t want no tears in those, ‘to die for, choose-me eyes’. She looks pretty in pink, don’t you think, oh, and God...forgive me?