The Scent of Memories

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Today we went to Mexico for supper. Yummy genuine Mexican food (one of the few things I'll miss when we move back home, away from the border.) The delicious aroma of refried beans met me at the restaurant door, and I was taken back to another place, to another time, years ago when I was a very little girl growing up in east Texas.

It was summertime, and every day, five days a week, I would ride my purple and white bike (the one with streamers and training wheels) down my street two houses, to the old pink one which looked to me like a giant doll house. I could always smell the freshly cooked refried beans from the road (the ones which the lady would cook with her brown hands every day for lunch.) She would take me and her daughter, my best friend, to the park on Reel road every morning, and we would ride our bikes on the trail and play on the slide and the metal toys. (That was before the park owner, who is the city I guess, took the metal toys and the very tall slide away.) After playing, we would always go back to her house to eat the yummy refried beans with tortillas and rice for lunch.

But this morning, I was late getting to the doll house and they had left with out me. I parked my bike at the edge of the long black driveway and left my purple bag of books hanging with the tattered streamers on one of the rubber handles. I knocked on the door. My best friend's grandfather welcomed me in. He told me in Spanish that my friend wasn't home. Then he led me through the living room. He slipped a quarter into my purple cotton size 7 shorts (the ones with the bow) and put his finger to his lips. Shhh he whispered. Then he smiled. He led me into his bedroom and placed me on his bed. The sheets were white. The walls were dark. His shirt was striped. His teeth were yellow. His hands, his brown hands, were rough on my little girl skin, even though he moved them slowly, underneath my clothes. He slipped them off so silently, I wondered if I was dreaming. But I felt the chill of the air against my bare skin and I knew it was real, and I wasn't wearing my clothes anymore. I realized he wasn't either.

I could smell the refried beans. Their aroma filled the doll house, the one in which my best friend lived.

Weeks and months and years later, I still lived two houses away from the pink doll house, in the ever more run-down neighborhood. My best friend never talked to me anymore, and there were rumors all around the neighborhood about the child-toucher, and also about the girl who seduces old men. And every time I rode my bike (the one with out training wheels) to the creek or the pond or the cemetery to play, I would pass the pink doll house, and the smell of refried beans would always be there, waiting for me. No matter how fast I peddled that six speed bike, I couldn't escape its presence. It lurked there like a phantom from the passed. As my wheels covered each foot of pavement, spinning so quickly I would almost lose control, the aroma would become fainter and fainter, until I could detect it no more, until the dark windows of the doll house were completely out of sight, and I knew he couldn't peer out from one of them and see me.

"Please, Mommy, don't tell me it's too dangerous to ride my bike next to the busy road to get back home. Don't you see, if I go this way, I pass the snow cone place, instead of the refried beans."





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