It was the fifth evening in a row, with only Tortillas de espinaca on the table, the fifth evening that her father would come home, go to the fridge, get a glass of aguardiente, would squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on it, and throw himself down on the armchair, only to stare at the ceiling. Her mother would keep her eyes fixed on the lines of the white table, her brother would feed his face to the point of getting sick. And everyone knew that the following week it would be tortillas again, but she hadn’t the faintest idea of what her mother would come up with to find something to fill them. Since her father had lost his job at the hotel, when they told him that they didn’t need a bell boy any more, when they told her mother that she would be on a shortened work shift, but with the same number of rooms to clean, everything looked dark, everything “swam” in a fog. That same fog that would envelope the Bay for long stretches during the year. Slowly, Mirna too, with that dampness that would cling to you after you have walked in it, had a feeling of uncertainty and nothingness, and no longer of mystery and oblivion for what is seen and not seen. While buildings disappeared, she was won over by a melancholic feeling, that grey was no longer a protective color or a soft wadding in which to dream with eyes wide open. It was only numbness, stillness, apathy. In 15 days she would be fifteen, but Mirna knew it would be a day just like any other… no, worse that the others. There would be no party with her friends, no gifts, maybe not even a happy birthday wish.
Only the noise of her brother’s chair, a metallic noise, as it scratches the floor, eating it away. In that instant, Mirna realizes that’s its her life that was being eaten away. Days have passed, but she hasn’t said anything about it, maybe she hasn’t even thought about it. She still has a large bruise on her thigh, but she does not even have the courage to look at that pain. She doesn’t know why, she doesn’t know why only in the face of those tortillas leftover in her dish, the nightmare reappears. Then she feels that something is breaking inside her, like an unrelenting big bang, shattering her. And she finds herself darting out in the street, has no idea of how she got out of the kitchen. Far away she can hear her mother call out her name, but it’s a distant echo, maybe only a hallucination. Suddenly she stops, struck by something she is unable to focus on.
She is struck by the colors blended with her tears. Then from that colored chaos, the face of a little girl, holding a doll, emerges, a quiet innocence. But there’s another girl, coming out from a tent, who seems to want to welcome Mirna, almost invitino her to “enter”. And she enters that building of multi-colored women. There’s a Mexican lady behind a table, who stares at her for an infinity of time, leaving it to her to make herself at home. She sees a middle-aged woman walk into a classroom, she hears Spanish and English spoken. She sees a smiling mother with three children leave the building, she sees colors, life. She goes toward the Mexican woman, who gets up. Mirna hugs her, “hola,” and the woman returns the hug. Words are no longer a problem. She is no longer sentenced to death, as she was that damned afternoon when her father abused her. She is a victim, a numberless one, entering the “Women’s Shelter,” reclaiming her womanhood, but refusing the role of a passive woman… Fifteen days have gone by, but they seem light years… There’s a cake, a party, gifts… but most of all there are the women. Her mother and her brother came. And the fog outside now has a new magical, mysterious and fascinating smell. The same smell Mirna perceives when she thinks of her future.