“Dishonor” by K. Ruiz

Original creative nonfiction written in CW 205:  Introduction to Creative Writing with Dr. Carlos Dews — Spring Semester 2010

“Dishonor”

I remember the sour taste in my mouth as if I had just eaten a whole lemon. The sting hit my nose and everything instantly began to smell like rotten eggs and spoiled milk. Every time my eyes blinked, spots would appear and taunt me, following my gaze. Warm drops ran from my lashes down the hills of my face. The beat of my heart and my exhale were all my ears would hear yet I knew that it was loud because the city is never quiet. I was trapped in my own head. A prisoner of my own thoughts and at some point my own heart beat drove me insane instead of calming me.

The mother-daughter bond that words could do no justice in describing was nothing more than a distant memory now.

I remember the day the sandpaper palm met the left side of my face. The world slowed down and I was able to count the seconds before the imprints of the pinky, ring, middle, pointer and thumb tainted my cheek. The world had slowed and gone silent, again. It was apparent that she was talking her mouth moved, open, tightened and released. But my ears heard nothing, save for the count of my heart beat and the yelp that came in the place of the exhale. The cold tiles beneath me caught my fall, the wall behind me cradling my back as my left hand melted into the imprint: pinky, ring, middle, pointer, and thumb.

I remember the bang, crack, growl, and snap. The face is red with hate, anger, fear and disappointment. The eyes, fighting back tears hold sorrow, forbidden understandings, desperation and love. Sweat drips slightly off of it making the roots of the hair damp. I can smell the heat that radiates off of her. The stench of fire burning from the very core of her being penetrates my own skin causing every inch of my body to tighten.  I can feel the power of her force as she squeezes my upper arm and shook it like a rattle. Broken lips are met with the taste of guilt the gush from my eyes. Worn out chocolate brown cushions sit under me, a place where we have sat together laughed together, watched movies and cried together.  My eyes travel past her, and through the windows I can see the dark night and the shinning moon slowly creeping into the heights of the sky. Behind me there is a blue wall that embraces a picture of Israel on it, the city that is to be called holy, the land of the chosen people, a people who are forgiving, compassionate and understanding. The gripping hand had released my arm only to grab a thick book, bound in leather, The Holy Bible. She threw it at me; her vocal chords began to vibrate. The sound crept up her throat ripping through her lips creating a sound that echoed far beyond my ears. Every word that fell off her tongue was drenched with poison as they hit my ears.

Dyke!

Butch!

You disgust me!

We once shared secrets, I would lay my head on her lap so she could play with my hair, a sacred space between us where pink dresses, black tap shoes, manicures, pedicures and braided hair were all that mattered. The eyes of a mother that once looked upon her daughter with pride were now piercing through me with shame. She had been robbed of something precious. She no longer had control. Beneath the perplexity was nothing less than a helpless soul being held at knife point by the fruit of her womb; her daughter was ruining everything. I was ruining everything. A face that was once overjoyed was now run down; a heart that once beat with delight was now racing with anxiety and doubt. A body that was once held with strength and confidence became distraught, fatigued, and limp. All traces of life were slipping away. There was raw empty space that was bleeding in agony eager for a strand of hope that the truth would be a lie.

“Tell me about this boyfriend of yours.”

“There is no boyfriend.”

I remember the pain, the embarrassment, the resentment in the depths of her eyes. A sea of blue, green and gray could not hide or disguise the black oil that lay on the surface. Her words were sharp, death by tongue.  Her embrace was gentle, her touch full of sympathy and pity. Fury and frustration seemed to be taken back, hovering close by.  She kept me close, so close that, we would take each breath together. Inhale. Exhale. A rhythmic play on the power and control that would soon become my future. She thought keeping me close would fix everything, but there was nothing to fix I knew this to be true.

I remember sitting at the kitchen table wondering what I had done wrong. Had I been stupid for beginning the conversation in the first place? Blank stares came at me like darts flying towards the target across the table. All that was said was that’s a joke right? Arroz con abichuela, pollo y café con leche on the stove fill the aroma of the room. Things that once brought comfort now have been spoiled with dishonor, eating away at every thought, feeling and dream. Every nerve in my body stood at attention. It wasn’t funny, there were no smiles, and no chuckles of laughter, just silence as the word girlfriend hung in the air where it obviously should not have been.

.I remember the first time I saw her and felt like I was in a fairytale.  Caramel skin, long chocolate brown hair, brown eyes that sparkled in the sunlight and a captivating smile. I remember the whole world changed colors when we were together even if it was just for a little while. Everything around me was fresh like the first day of spring but comforting like the warmth of fall. Her embrace, her kiss, her love was all I needed.  Every part of my body was in unison with hers. Everything about her seemed perfect and I was hopelessly in love.  The day I realized that love was real and could not be found in a story book was the world had shifted from under my feet. It was the day I stepped out from behind my mask and told my mother the truth.

“Mom, I have to be honest. There is something I have to tell you. . .”

—written by Kristal Ruiz

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