This week's challenge:
Give a virtuous character a sordid past.
I did not go that sordid, but I like what the challenge prompted me to write.
Every night I got up to go to the bathroom, and I always had trouble getting back to sleep, the secret pushing to come out after a year’s worth of silence. But how could I tell her? She would be so angry at me, so disappointed. I was terrified.
One day I asked her, would she love me no matter what I did? She said yes. I decided I had to tell her. The secret felt too big inside of me.
That night, as she tucked me in bed, I said I needed to tell her something. She lay down in bed next to me and said “go ahead, baby, I’m listening.” I started talking and then it just poured out.
Mom, last year there was a kid in the cafeteria sitting next to me who said the F word. When the cafeteria lady came to find out what was going on, I told on him: “Ma’am, Tommy was saying F%@*^!” She sent us both to the principal’s office. They sent me home with a letter for you to sign. But I was so scared that you would get mad at me that I hid in the bathroom and signed the letter in your name. Are you mad at me, mom? Am I in trouble?
Mom took a deep breath. She hugged me. She said what I did was not good and I should not do it again, but she was glad I had told her, and she loved me very much. Then she told me about the time when she was a kid in third grade and did not do her homework. The teacher put a note in mom’s workbook: “Ingrid did not do her homework. Why?” and a blank space for my mom’s mother to sign the page. Mom was so scared of her reaction (mom was always a goody two-shoes in school) that she forged abuela’s signature. I actually did not know what the word forgery meant until my mom told me this story.
I asked her if she told abuela about what she did, and she said that she kept it a secret for years, but that my uncle found out about it and used it to blackmail her, in jest. We had a good laugh over my mom’s memories of the taunting chants that mi tío Toño used to sing around her. “Libro, liiibrooo, liiibrooo.” For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, libro means book.
So imagine that. My mom and I did the same thing, at the same age. I feel a lot better now.