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The Good Daughter

The Good Daughter

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Published by Sam Silvas
We all have a wild relative we just can't turn out back on,
We all have a wild relative we just can't turn out back on,

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Published by: Sam Silvas on Feb 26, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Sam SilvasTumblerSam@aol.com
Her brother was in jail again. This time it was serious, a whole year down in KernCounty for possession with intent to sell. Cintia had devised a plan to keep all of this fromtheir mother, a simple plan that depended on the cooperation of just a few people, her brother and husband chief among them.“He’s never asked you to save him,” Richard told her, but he ultimately agreed to theplan just as he had agreed to every other decision she had made regarding Miguel.These were the basics: Miguel told their mother he was taking a job pouring curb andgutter down in Bakersfield-prevailing wage, too good to pass up. Cintia would begin havingtheir mother over for dinner every Sunday and Miguel would call to talk to her. The callswould be coming collect from jail, and since their mother would never answer a phone in ahouse that was not hers, Cintia would be free to accept the charges. A friend of Miguel’s inBakersfield would get his letters and mail them so they would have a regular postmark.Cintia assumed her brother’s friend, a round boulder of a man named Buffalo, was in thesame line of work as Miguel, but she didn’t care as long as he did this for her. Cintia wentover and over the plan in her head. She thought it was as fool proof as a lie could be."What were you doing in a bar in the first place?" Cintia had asked Miguel that nighttwo months ago when she picked him up at the sheriff’s station out at Lake Beryessa.Often she had thought of picking up the phone when it shook her awake in the middleof the night and simply saying, “Not this time.” But then she'd hear her brother’s voice, the
exact pitch as her father’s, and she had to go. Early on Richard had offered to accompanyher or even go in her place. He had grown up in Stanton as well and knew all about Miguel,but Cintia told him, no, Miguel was her brother and it was as simple as that. At first he buriedthe rejection under flippant remarks about Miguel’s prediciments; now he didn’t even open hiseyes when she got out of bed, his role cast in something stronger than words."Dope ain't a door to door business, you know,” Miguel said."But to get caught because you were pissing in the bushes? That’s kind of stupid,don’t you think?”"Shit, Sis. I had to go."She turned in a tight circle, pacing in front of her car like a dog trying to getcomfortable before bedding down. "You're on probation, Miguel. You need to be morecareful."He laughed, a quick explosion of air that dismissed everything she had said. "It's waytoo late for that, Sis."Miguel was handsome, his skin the color of juice from a pot of beans, and charming ina straightforward, brazen way. That’s also what got him into so much trouble. He thought hehad the right to say anything, anytime, to anyone, and that the world was his for the samplingand that no one should begrudge him that right. His behavior may have seemed reckless buthe calculated risk before acting and if caught was willing to take the punishment withoutcomplaint. It was because of Miguel that Cintia had stopped believing in bad luck or accidents or coincidences.She dropped him off at their mother’s house. No matter what time of night, Miguelinsisted on immediately telling her about his troubles. Juanita reaction was always the same:
Quien se mande
,” she’d say-who sent you to do what you did?- and go to the kitchen tomake him a bowl of menudo.
The first Sunday of dinners. Stanton was far enough north of Sacramento that it didn’tsuffer from the tule fog that stretched from the American to the Sacramento River, pushingdown on all that was in its way until buildings and trees, and even people, were renderedunrecognizable. Whenever the fog moved in, as it had the night before, Stanton was blessedwith clear, sunny skies. Cintia went out to the backyard to plant ground cover until Richardbrought her mother. She enjoyed working out in the yard of their new home, liked the tinglingsensation of her dark skin accepting the sun’s warmth as she knelt and dug into the earth.Her mother, Juanita Rosaria Padilla Sanchez, was raised in the hangover of theDepression and when she spoke of it Cintia sensed that it was always pronounced withcapital letters. Her parents had met in Las Cruces, New Mexico after both families had comeover from Juarez. They walked and hitchhiked over to Los Angeles and up through the SanJoaquin Valley until they came to a town that had no fields to be worked. Her father workedat the plant for thirty years, eating leftover tacos for lunch because he didn't want to spendthe money to eat out, and drinking after work every Friday in the parking lot of theconvenience store across the street from the plant.Her mother stood all day on the cement floor of the cannery that lay on the outskirts of town in an old, forgotten tin warehouse. Twice a year, after harvest, there would be too manyhours of overtime and too few days off and Juanita would be sick for a month afterwards, butrefused to stay home.Her parents had taught her that life was about getting by, about mitigating damages.In order not to go under you showed up for work with bone spurs puncturing your heels likethe teeth of the devil himself, that you should give an unemployed neighbor corn from your garden
he had to ask, and to hold a dying uncle's hand while he soaked the sheetswith fever was an act of love no words could express.

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