On my last night in San Miguel, Julieta and I see Avengers: Infinity War in a movie theater in a mall outside the city. It’s late, but all the other showings are in Spanish, and I barely speak Spanish well enough to correct cab drivers when they drive past my Airbnb.
We met three days ago at the Shelter Theater, where she read a poem about the dogs we’d often see on the roofs of people’s homes. Once the performance was over I’d gushed about how talented she was. Back home in New York, I’d have gotten on the train and gone home, without a word. In San Miguel there was no one to tell me not to speak.
She thanked me, and then we just couldn’t shut up. We talked until we got kicked out of the theater. We walked down the cobblestone streets, conversation flitting from the next poem she was working on to the one time I tried to become a DJ. We both liked Marvel, so we talked about that over ginger margaritas.
We talked until we got to my Airbnb. She had work in the morning or I might have invited her in to talk some more. Avengers: Infinity War is a gap in my Marvel knowledge. I’m looking forward to it, but more than that I’m looking forward to talking about it afterward.
When we first met, Julieta was wearing cargo shorts and a flannel shirt. Tonight, she’s wearing a simple, form-fitting black dress. Her curly hair is adorned with a Dahlia-shaped clip. Most people dress up for the theater, and dress down for a movie at the mall. Did she dress up to see me?
I wanted to adorn myself in the most beautiful things I’d packed, but I couldn’t. I wear skinny jeans, a black tank top that leaves my arms dotted with goosebumps. My brown hair is twisted into a bun. I don’t know if we look like a couple. I hope we don’t. I hope that we do.
We share a bag of popcorn the size of my head, drink Coca Cola—mine with ice, hers without because, as Julieta explains, Mexicans don’t want ice, it dilutes the cola. We had dessert earlier, tres leches cake and elote flan, but we eat without thinking about cholesterol or our waistlines or whether all this caffeine is good for my baby. My hand brushes hers in the popcorn bag. I think about how after tonight we will probably never see each other again.
Avengers: Infinity War was good. We stand in the desolate parking lot, her texting her sister to come pick us up, me staring up at a sliver of moon. While we wait, we don’t talk about the movie. We talk about how she’s going to adopt a cat at the local shelter, about how she nearly got married but left her fiancé when she realized she was a lesbian, how she used to be a paralegal in New Hampshire before she moved back to Mexico to help her grandmother renovate their family’s house. I tell her about being pregnant, about having to go back to New York to be with the baby’s father. How I don’t want to go.
“You don’t have to go, if you don’t want to,” she says. “You could live here—a lot of Americans do. Or, even if you want to go back to New York, you don’t have to stay with him if you don’t want to.”
“It’s his baby, though. And we’re still dating, technically. I’m supposed to marry him. It would probably be fine if I did, he’s a nice man, it’s just that I don’t…”
Suddenly, she leans over and kisses me. It’s a wet kiss, it tastes like sea salt, like Coca Cola. My hair ends up twirled around the hinge of her glasses, so it hurts a little more than it would have when we pull apart. Her face lights up in the headlight of a passing car, and I almost tell her I love her, but then the car turns out to be her sister’s. It’s time to go back home.
This is a well written, engaging story. I loved it! Keep writing.
Thank you so much, I’m so happy you enjoyed it. 🙂
A charming story of what might have been.
Thank you so much, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Your description was exactly what I was going for.
Beautiful characters. Your last paragraph is all I could want: the salty cola kiss, the pain of pulling away, the light filling her face. Will ‘home’ ever be the same? Please continue!
Thank you so much for your lovely comment.
This is really great. Emotive, sad, romantic and scathingly real.
It’s a great piece, Anna, you penned. From the beginning every line makes me read the next.