La Angel, Constanza
Las Memorias en las Caléndulas, Part One
Las caléndulas bailaron en el crespucúlo as the breeze trickled through their bosoms. Seas of naranja y amarilla poured over the lush sierras verdes. They blurred like paint strokes on a canvas, whispering a silent story that most would never hear. Harmonious with the dirt, the trees, and the waters, they praised that this was paradiso. Esta es la tierra de dios.
Even still, the land she wept. Viva Mexico! Viva la Independencia! And my people cried beside her. Muerte a las gachupínes! Oh, how we longed for the days before these demons arrived. How I longed to leave these fields, leave behind el maiz, la caña de azúcar, y los granos de café and vivir mi vida. I longed to be a vaquero! Pero, yo sé… mi familia no me dejaba... My family disapproved. Tending the fields was not a horrible life and it was fulfilling, but it was hard, and it was boring. It wasn’t what un joven fornido wanted to do with his life. I wanted to be a hero.
I brushed the soil from my hands and dried the sweat from my eyes. I could see el Templo De Santo Domingo de Guzmán peeking through the clouds, singing sweet hymns along the wind. The monastery towered over the town, surrounded by the bustling mercado, but no matter how busy we were, the bells chimed for us. They declared hope and for us to rejoice, not to despair. It called for me.
I grabbed my serape, patted it out and straightened it proudly over my chest. My mother had made it for me a few years before and it was one of the nicest things I owned, besides my suit. I put on my sombrero, tightened my sandals, and grabbed the cart full of corn. I waved at my father who stood, puffing on his pipe. He gazed over his bountiful fields; his face always somber with a look of preocupación y discplina.
“Hasta luego, papá!”
“Adónde vas, mijo?”
“La plaza. Volveré pronto, I’ll be back soon. Prometo!”
I twirled around, hand over my heart and smirked. I could see him shake his cabeza, but I didn’t care. Siempre decian que soy arrogante, and I was.
I rolled into the marketplace, strutting eagerly with our produce, but immediately lowered my head. Perros guardianes. They swarmed the stalls, drunken and vicious. Their noses high in the air, almost as tall as their hats, as they watched for los revolucionarios. They were damned pigs, thinking they were high and mighty. I felt my lip curl as I snarled under my breath. Es fácil ser rico cuando le robas a todas los que te rodean. It’s easy to steal.
I brought the cart up against a stone pillar and bundled a bunch of hay in a pile for my seat. I carefully bent down and plopped upon the fodder, nestling a piece of wheat between my teeth. I watched the crowds, various in their circles. People came and went, throwing a few copper pieces, cocoa and whatever they could part with into my sack. Again, it was not what I wanted to be doing, but I loved coming into town. Me encantó ver a las personas diferentes del pueblo, and they were all very different.
I began to gather my belongings and readied the cart for the long haul up the hill back home when I saw her. Ella era magnífica! Ebony curls amassed on top of her head, unlike the ugly powdered coiffure of others. She donned a diadem of rubies and onyx, of marigolds and roses, of satin black ribbons and the most beautiful turquoise feathers. Her eyes were pools of chocolate, her skin was silk and the color of pecans. A thin lace veiled her brow and along her temple, she wore a small chiqueador in the shape of the moon. Her gown was one of those robe á la française that the nobles were always talking about. It was pink with beautiful floral and fruit designs all about it with a matching, jeweled stomacher.
She looked at me, her red painted lips parting as she smiled. Lo juro… I could have sprouted wings and began to soar! Mi corazón, mi amor por siempre! I had to stop her, I just had to say something. I tied my bag around my waist, slicked back my black mane and sauntered over. If only I was as suave as I thought I was. I tripped over my huaraches and almost planted face first into the stone path. I recovered my balance hastily as I could hear her giggling at me. I pulled my pants up my waist, taking in a deep breath, and puffed out my chest.
“Hola, señorita,” I said, lowering my voice as I bowed. She flicked open a fan and took a step back. “Es una noche bonita para una mujer hermosa.” I saw her cheeks blossom a rosy glow and her eyes glance towards the soldiers and then back at me. I continued with bravado. “Ay, señorita. Will you not answer? Do you wish me to leave?”
“No, señor, pero…que quieres de mi? Do you wish to sweep me off my feet? A few words and I fall longingly into your arms?” Her tongue was sharp, but she smiled ever so sweetly. Her teeth pulling at her bottom lip, playful and promiscuous.
“Sí,” I chortled and shrugged. “From the moment I saw you arrive, I knew I loved you and only you.”
“You do not even know me,” She laughed, shaking her head. “Estas loco!”
“No! Lo juro! My heart sings for you, I would gladly give my life for you and now I must know… What is your name, señorita?”
“Constanza, y tú?”
“Constanza! Magnifíca!” I clutched my chest, swooning. Her name rolled off my tongue, her voice singing like a choir of angels. I could barely catch my breath between the pulsing of my heart. “Me llamo Rodrigo. Tell me, mi amada. Have you ever seen las corridas de toros? Ellos son fantasticos!”
“No se si quiero. My father loves it,” She seemed distant, but I was resolute.
“Irías conmigo? Mañana por la noche?”
Her body grew anxious. She, again, looked through me, fanning herself faster than before. Her eyes flickered from side to side, as if she was searching for algo o alguien. She leaned on her toes for a better view and my gaze tried to follow, but she stopped me. She slapped the fan against my shoulder and grinned.
“Sí, Rodrigo. Mañana, I will be here.”
That was good enough for me. I bid her farewell with another bow and returned to my cart, pushing it up towards mi casa. I suppose I should have been wearier of hiding my simplicity from her elegance. I could tell de su ropa y su postura, that she was a much higher class than I, but I did not care, and I would not, for she was the only one for me. She had set my heart aflame now I only had to pray that she would be in the town square tomorrow. Que mantendría su promesa de conocerme.
Abuelita greeted me at the door as always in her favorite burgundy huipil. Her silver hair woven in braids draped over her shoulders and hands cupped neatly in her lap.
“Quen tica, nieto?”
Her voice a whisper coated in honey as she spoke in hybrid tongues. She spoke mostly in Nahuatl with an occasional Spanish flare. I replied, kissing her cheek, and then I burst through the door.
I poured the earnings on the table, proudly. My mother was agape, and I could have sworn I saw my father’s eyes bulge, but he remained still as stone, still smoking his tobacco as if he hadn’t moved at all. My mother began to squeal, question and praise. She asked where I had been and where I had got the coins and I told her the truth- I sold the corn, and this is what I got in return.
“Conoció a una chica,” Abuelita called, “Está enamorado.”
I will never know how my grandmother knew, but she did. I managed to escape the interrogation by the skin of my teeth and hurried off to bed. Tomorrow, I would see Constanza again. Mañana, mi vida nunca volvería a ser la misma.
Would you like to keep reading? Click below to go to Las Memorias en Las Caléndulas, Part 2!