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Closet Whispers This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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There is dust. Dust everywhere. It swirls and coats everything evenly, creating oceans and mounds of gray. It looks like dead powdered sugar to me. When Maria opens the door, the dust releases its hold, jumping into the air like we've surprised it. Maria motions for me to follow her, and I step into the small closet on my toes. She casts a glance at me over her shoulder, jutting her chin in the direction of the mop in the corner. I think she wants me to grab it, but there is no way of really knowing. Maria doesn't speak English.

Maria is my best friend's maid. She moved here from Mexico last year. Maria has a husband and two sons, and she mops and dusts and sweeps and vacuums carpets. Maria always pulls her graying black hair into a severe bun at the base of her neck. Maria had to run away from her home in the middle of the night.

This is Maria's closet. It is filled with the sprays, the rags, and the toilet brushes. It is stuffy. It is dirty and musty, and it always smells like dying water. It is dim, dank, grimy, and cluttered. It is beautiful. Maria's closet doesn't have the kind of beauty everyone can see. It is not the kind of beauty that jumps up and down until you notice it, or the kind that sneaks up on you when you aren't looking. Maria's closet has the kind of beauty you have to search for, that you have to work for. It is the kind of beauty you have to understand. The kind you have to listen for.

Underneath the dust and the grime and the smell of bleach and mold, things are whispering. The feather dusters sound like birds when they talk. They just chirp the word Run, run, run over and over. The mops? They slur when they speak, so it is hard to understand them, but they say names. Maria. Hector. David. Rachel. Mother. Father. Brother. Sister. Then come the sponges. They whisper sloppily, like they want everyone to hear, and they talk about the things left behind. The tiny store with red awnings, the black penny loafers for church, the hairpins with the flowers, and all the money. All the life. The closet whispers and whispers and tells the story once, twice, then three times. Run, it says. Run, run, run, leave everything. They're coming. The banditos are coming tomorrow, and they will take it all, whether we are here or not. It is time to run. Two socks, two shoes, leave the house, leave the store, get safe. Safe.

The closet belongs to Maria and it tells her story. The story of how the men came in the night and threatened her and her family. The story of going from everything to nothing in the four hours and 30 minutes it took to drive to the U.S. border. It tells the story of the plastic visa in her wallet and the foreign words in her mouth.

Sometimes I don't think Maria understands. She is too busy working to feed her family with the only job she can hold. Not even she has time to stop and listen, but even if she did, I don't think she would find the beauty. I do. I find it every time I help her get something out of the closet under the stairs. I find it every time I remember I have a real home to go home to, a family who doesn't struggle, and a life that isn't strained and scared.

I have my own pillow and my own bed, and I get to wake up and eat my favorite cereal every morning. I don't worry that my family will have to run. I'm not scared that men with guns will break into our house and order us to leave. I speak the same language as all the kids at school. I have laws that protect me and rights that keep me free.

This is Maria's closet. It is dank and dark and musty, and the floor is always a little wet. It is stubbornly wonderful and sadly perfect. It is strange, foreign, and it smells like dying water. It is everything Maria once had, and everything I have now. It is beautiful.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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laila_265This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
today at 12:35 pm:
Amazing. This is why I love stories. Everyone has a narrative- good for you for finding and caring about Maria's.
 
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KatsKThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
yesterday at 5:40 pm:
This is brilliant. You're a great writer. This really conveyed the struggles she had and how there is so much beauty in simple things, even what looks ugly.
 
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