It had been a long time sense I had last seen Maribel. I haven’t heard from her in 9 months but it feels as though she was still near or maybe it was from the reminiscing of what had happened when I last saw her. My mom told me that they went back to their old house in Mexico, which made sense considering that Arturo had a work visa and Sra Rivera didn’t, which meant that they would eventually be kicked out of the United States for not working (Common Questions). For a long time I couldn’t stop thinking about Maribel I would re-read her note book that she gave to me to get a glimpse of how things were before her father passed(Henriquez 263). I felt ashamed for taking her away with what could have been the last day with her father, and it took me a long time to grasp how things have gotten so shitty from that day forward. Sense the day my father and I took Maribel to the hospital to see her dad; my parents didn’t scold me, at first I was shocked because it seemed like I needed to be punished for what had happened. But after we heard about the news about Sir Rivera passing away, I think my parents refused to punish me because they knew the guilt I had for making a poor decision would haunt me forever. And the funny part is it did, I could see that day with Maribel like it was yesterday and it sucked that I couldn’t apologize for what had happened, but I think deep down both of us knew that we were both sorry. I try to think back before everything went into flames, the times when we were inseparable. I would try to remember the way she looked with her curly hair, or the way she smelled, or how she looked in my oversized jacket (Henriquez233-243).And when I got that jacket back I didn’t wash it for months because I knew if I did her scent and that memory of her would be gone forever. She made me feel like a better version of myself and I think I did the same with her. At least I hope I did I never knew exactly how she felt and I wish I knew how she was doing. I wanted to be there for her, but that didn’t change the fact that she was gone and things were different now.
After Sir. Rivera died, Garrett never came to school anymore, the word around was that he had finally died, left town, or found another school to pick on; but he was never coming back, which I prayed was the truth. Although, after a couple weeks From Sir Rivera’s death we found out the truth from my friend William at school; you see one day to get out of playing soccer at gym, William said he had a bad stomach ache and they sent him to the nurse’s office by the administrating office. I guess while William was getting his temperature taken he saw some lady dressed in really fancy clothes come in the main office asking for garrets school file to the receptionist. He told me that she had some sort of name tag with child protection services logo on it, we both assumed he had to go through the system because his dad was in jail and he didn’t have any other guardian to look after him. () When I heard he was gone I was glad, he was an ass hole to everyone he meet and thinking of him just made me want to hurt him. I couldn’t stand to think of what he had done to Maribel or what his father did to her dad; just the slightest thought of it built up so much anger inside me, but I was glad I saw the last of him.
When I was home, for months on end I would try to listen to my mom’s phone calls to see if Sra Rivera would ever call my mom from Mexico. Every now and then my mom would keep in touch with her but it was very rare when they did considering that their relationship was not so good after what had happened, but my mom always wanted to know if they were okay even if it had been months from when we last saw them. I remember trying to listen to my mom’s conversation but I only got little bits of it. Most of the time I tried to fill in the responses that I thought Sra Rivera would make in hopes to keep the memory of Maribel alive, but I never really got much from it until a recent conversation. It was early December and as I was in my room I could hear my mother begging my father to send a package to the Rivera’s this Christmas. My mom wept as she said,”Rafa it wouldn’t be too much it would just be something small like cookies or maybe some tamales, they need to know that we care, someone should never have to deal with the holidays after a loved one has passed”. That got me thinking, I needed Maribel to know I still care, I knew that it would be hard for Maribel to go through Christmas without her dad and I wanted to write her a letter and sneak it into the care package to let her know I was there for her as her friend even if that meant I would go behind my mother’s back by putting it in the package, or chance it by letting sir Rivera see it before Maribel, or the thought of Maribel never wanting to reply after she got it. I wanted to do something special for a last goodbye or maybe a new hello. But I couldn’t let my mother find out that I was doing this, I knew I had to write a letter in the one place I knew that was safe from snooping, school.
I started writing on my free time at lunch every day for a week to try to perfect what I was going to say but nothing felt perfect. I thought if I confessed my love to her things would lighten up, or maybe I had to do the complete opposite and tell her something vague like Merry Christmas, then it got me thinking last year I got her a present maybe this year’s letter wouldn’t be enough. I was so confused with what to put down and it was crazy that even when she wasn’t here she made me nervous (Henriquez 142). I kept trying to figure out the right word but how could you write to someone after the tragedy’s that had happened. I just had to suck it up and has my heart was racing I finally got the nerve to get a few words down until I felt a big shadow lure over me and before I turned around I knew that it was trouble. I could hear his voice his stupid voice say to me,
“Hey Majoy Pollo how’s your retard girlfriend? Or maybe she’s just a slut, she let me hit it before you ever could that’s how easy she is. She’s a slut and retard. Or maybe you’re the retarded one for liking her”(Henriquez 15).
I turned and looked at Garrett out of fear at first but that fear turned into anger I thought I would never see the day I would see him again. And to think of him saying something so stupid like that without a care in the world. I wanted to cuss him out tell him he shouldn’t be here but all I could say was, “what are you doing here I thought they took you away”
He chuckled as I said that, then smirks as he looked as his fist rubbing them together as if he was here to fight.
“well Its my first day back, I jumped from school to school for a while, back and forth in and out of foster cares, but they just couldn’t handle me. Anyways I had to come back just to remind you to go back where you came from. I guess you didn’t listen the first time after my dad shoot your beaner ass girlfriend’s father. Ha what are you doing? Writing to your girlfriend major cocksucker”(Henriquez 15).
But before he could say anything else every inch of anger that was built inside me rose up. I could picture him abusing Maribel; I could see how ignorant he was of the whole situation, or that fact that he didn’t even have sympathy for her father’s death. I could remember all the times he had picked on me and I could feel my face burning up with hot anger. Before you knew it, I stood up clenched my fist and swung on him. It was kind of a blur but I jumped on top on him and kept punching him over and over again. All I remember is his head pouncing back and forth against the gravel between each of my punches and then William jumping on top of me trying to pull me off. When I looked up I realized all the damage I had done, there was a crowd all around me of chanting kids and administrator’s ready to take me away. But when I looked down I didn’t see some macho kid that I was afraid of I saw an afraid boy with a bloody nose pinned to the floor. He looked pathetic but I remember looking at my fist swollen from what had just happened and looking at Garrett and saying ”you weren’t even worth it Maribel lost someone important to her and all you can ever do is be a ignorant dick.”
I came home from the fight after school that day, waiting for a lecture. I finally decided to tell my parents the truth of what happened with me and Maribel’s relationship down to ever moment of me punching Garrett the first time, up to her being abused, even how I was trying to write her a letter to put in the Christmas package. They didn’t lecture me for what had happened but for the first time they understood it wasn’t my fault because I stood up for something that was right. As for Garett, some people are always going to be ignorant and there are always going to be bumps on the road but it’s what you do with the outcome that makes the difference. I thought about still writing Maribel a letter but just like our love story life sometimes is tragic. For once I knew that everything in life is not always fair, I wanted to take away Maribel’s pain away but I knew the only way to do so is to let her go. I don’t know what I would do if I lost my parents but I know what it is like to lose Maribel. I love her but that’s the thing about love sometimes you need to set it free but that doesn’t mean you have to let go of the bitter sweet memory.
I choose to write another chapter at the end of the story as the character Mayor and what his life would be like after Maribel’s absents, at first I wanted the story to end happy but after doing research from interviews with Knopfdoubleday on author Cristina Henriquez, I realized that her purpose was to create that tragic love story as a reflection to how life is not always fair. She said how “she wanted to break your heart. . .so that way you would have that emotional connection” and at first I didn’t understand why as an author she would want to do that, I personally wanted a better outlook on the story but after seeing and understanding her point of view I got why she had such a tragic ending(Knopfdoubleday). I think that no one is really to blame from what happened in the story or what happens in life. I think the purpose for me writing another chapter is that sometimes when you lose someone or something that is dear to you, you feel lost for a while like Mayor or Maribel, and in many ways you lose a part of yourself when they are gone and I guess I wanted to show that in my story that reality sometimes is not always what you expect it to be. You can either let life punch you around or you can fight and stand up for something you really care about. This is also why I choose to do a fighting scene in my chapter, not to promote violence but just to metaphorically say to always stand up for something right. I think each of the characters In the story learn that lesson that you may loss many parts of yourself but you also gain a lot of other quality’s with the loss.
“Common Questions.” U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of State, j1visa.state.gov/basics/common-questions/.
Henríquez Cristina. The Book of Unknown Americans. Vintage Books, a Division of Random House LLC, 2015
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Knopfdoubleday. YouTube, YouTube, 20 Mar. 2015, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZNZmuuup9A.