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Bastard Child, Esperanza (Chapter 1 and 2)
Jovana sat on the porch swing, humming to herself. She tucked her long brown hair behind her ear as she kicked the ground with her bare feet, moving the swing with the wind. As a young man drove up in a dirty truck, she used her feet as brakes and sat there silently. A tall teenager stepped out and tussled his short brown hair, his hazel eyes shining bright. He walked calmly through the fence and breathed deeply as he walked to Jovana’s side, slowly sitting down. Jovanna folded her hands under her slightly swollen belly and looked at the boy with trembling eyes.
“Marry me, Miguel,” the teenager groaned. She had a look of seriousness upon her face and he had to look away. He tapped his leather boots impatiently, not knowing what to say. He slowly rose his hand towards Jovana’s stomach, never leaving her gaze. The girl gave a nod and the boy put his trembling hand onto her. He felt a kick, and jumped a little in his seat.
“Miguel, marry me,” Jovana repeated. She was crying now, very softly. The boy placed his warm hand on her face, catching a falling tear.
“Jovana, please,” Miguel whispered to her.
She inhaled and told him with a stern voice, “You did this to me; take responsibility. I want no bastard child. It needs a father.”
“I am its father,” Miguel protested as he shot up from the swing.
“Then marry me!” Jovana exclaimed. She wobbled as she stood up, facing him. She looked deep into his eyes until he broke away from the stare.
“I just… can’t, Jovana,” he mumbled. “You have to understand. I’m a kid. You’re a kid! I can’t marry you. You know I want to go to California. I can’t stay here in Mexico and marrying you would cause me to stay here with the baby. I have dreams, goals. I can’t give my life up for one stupid mistake.”
Jovana was now crying of anger. She snapped back, “You think I don’t have goals and dreams, Miguel? You think I want to give birth to a child at fourteen and not be able to go to school and have to carry around this guilt? This is just like you, to be so selfish!” She stomped her foot and groaned with frustration.
Miguel shook his head and ran his hand through his hair again. After a moment of silence he said calmly, “I’m sorry.” He kissed her on the cheek, turned on his heels, and walked down the dirt path to his truck. He paused before he opened the door, looked at Jovana, and shut his eyes tight. Miguel hopped in his truck and didn’t look back as he drove away.
Jovana wiped her eyes and opened the screen door as she shook the doorknob of the wooden door; it was stuck, but not locked. Finally, she heard a satisfying click and walked in. She rubbed her feet on a worn-out mat and crept into the house, praying under her breath her father-whom was sitting in his recliner watching the news- didn’t notice her.
“What did he say, baby?” her mother said as she came out from the kitchen, causing Jovana to jump and gasp.
“Oh, Momma,” she moaned and fell into her mother’s arms. The woman rubbed the weeping girl’s back while clicking her tongue.
“Tsk, tsk. I knew that boy was wrong for you. Look what he did,” she said and with tearful eyes, she looked at the little bump.“So young, so, so young,” she muttered, still petting her daughter.
Jovana jerked away from her mother, tired of hearing these same words from her. “Momma, I’m so sorry. Please, stop reminding me!”
The woman straightened the black bun on top of her head and said, “I’ll stop when the baby is born, but continue if it’s a bastard.” Jovana glared at her mother, and then barfed.
The whole ceiling was spinning. Jovana stuck her head back in the toilet and vomited. Her mother, whom was holding her hair back, coughed, about to throw up herself.
“You really shouldn’t have done this in front of your father,” she said, still coughing.
“You heard what he called me, Momma!” she cried, wiping her mouth. That one word played over and over in her head. Puta. Puta. Puta, he said, in the most hateful voice. PUTA.
“He’s an angry man, baby. You just have to forget him. Not that he doesn’t have every right to be angry with you. But in his eyes you are a disappointment. And I can’t argue with that.” Her mother let go of her hair and left the room before Jovana could say anymore excuses.
Jovana stood silently on an old stool, dressed in only underwear and a bra. Her mother wrapped a measuring rope around every part of her body and scribbled the measurements on a little notebook. She slowly and carefully measured Jovana’s stomach, which was at least half a foot sticking out, shaking her head.
“I was 30 when I met your father. Then we waited three years to have you,” she said, pressing the pen hard on the paper. Jovana said nothing. “I had a husband, a home, income, and was ready for you.” Jovana literally bit her tongue. “Met him at church. We had nice dinners and walks.” Jovana was now screaming in her head. There was a silence for about a minute. “My grandbaby is going to be a bastard child.”
“Momma, I tried so hard to fix it. I did,” she finally pleaded.
“But you didn’t.”
Someone was pounding on the door. “Elena letting herself in, Mr. and/or Mrs. Perez!” a young voice called out. The girl walked into the bedroom the two women were at and smiled up at Jovana. “You’re going to look so pretty in the dress, Jov! Your momma can sew!”
Jovana sighed, “Momma has to go buy extra fabric for my stomach. Is this what an obese person feels like?”
Elena shook her head and said seriously, “It’s what a pregnant 14 year old feels like.”
“Ena, you’re a real smart-a**!” Jovana covered her mouth, forgetting her mother was right behind them.
“She’s right, young lady, you are a smart-a**,” the mother said, trying to keep a straight face.