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Black Rose

Elvin Dominici

Black Rose

300 Spartans Editions

Jersey City, NJ 2016

Copyright © Elvin Dominici

All rights reserved

Total or partial reproduction

of this book without permission

of the author or publisher, by any

means or computer procedure,

pursuant to the penalties

provided by law.

Fisrt Edition: November, 2016

ISBN 978-1-365-55040-9

300 Spartans Editions

Cover Book Design: Roberto Aybar

Tel. 1-849-881-9097 email mr.bonni@gmail.com

Transcription and editing support::

Eduviges Cuello

Tel. 1-809-568-8282 email educuellop@hotmail.com

This book is above all a tribute to the most important woman in my life, the protagonist of Black Rose and my beloved mother Rosa Delia Encarnación. It tells her story in her own voice as recorded, transcribed and arranged by me. It also tells the story of every immigrant woman who’s placed her life, her dreams and her entire being in the hands of the uncertain to give her children a better future. This book originally was going to be strictly a document for my family. Today I share my mother’s story with all of you to confirm to the world that there’s nothing stronger than a mother’s resolve when it comes to her children. I dedicate it to all women, for they are no doubt the spine of humankind, the seat of our first love and the ones who welcome us when we find the air of life in our lungs. 

Rosa Delia’s Viacrucis

Let it be known that people don’t usually abandon their countries of their own free will. They tear themselves from the warm welcoming homeland, its landscapes, from kinsmen, their language, their culture and their love compelled by material urgency. Those who emigrate do so because they cannot stay."

Silvio Torres-Saillant - El retorno de las yolas

Rosa Negra, Elvin Dominici’s most recent work of literature, tells the harrowing ordeal of a woman who abandons her homeland to touch down on US soil. Because it dovetails with real-life events, it runs the risk of inflaming passions and generating mixed reactions from certain parties that may feel this refers to them, so much more when the lines between reality and fiction aren’t clearly drawn, opening up an entire world of questions for the reader who tries to discern between one and the other.

Rosa Delia leaves her country with great resolve only to run into the vicissitudes of the immigrant. She defies one obstacle after another with strength of character and the resolve to get ahead. In the middle of the Caribbean Sea, after drifting for several days, she overcomes the inclement sun, the dizzy spells and desolation because she never abandons her hopes for life. She doesn’t blink as she faces immigration officials in Puerto Rico, and with the false documents she’d obtained previously she arrives at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

A woman hardened by life, born into a home where physical and emotional mistreatment took place regularly, made the object of ridicule by her first love and burned by treachery on many occasions, Rosa Delia rides high in the saddle and headlong into adversity in such a way as to create a psychological profile that fits perfectly with the theory of psychologist Alfred Adler, who argued insistently that one cannot analyze people in isolation from their social context. That is the reality of her people that forced her to bid farewell to her loved ones to embrace the unknown.  Rosa Delia, through this action and on the same frequency with Adler, the value of surrendering to a cause, of risking everything even when you don’t know what the consequences might be or, worse yet, when you know they might be adverse.

A simple novel assembled in a circular structure, the story joins Rosa Delia with her granddaughter Wendy at a moment in which life had begun to lose all meaning for the young lady. Rosa Delia’s story provides a guide for the footsteps of a granddaughter who has already begun to exhibit the signs of dissonant acculturation, therefore it opens up the wound of communication in two languages, two realities, two life views seen through the lens of the process of linguistic separation between youngsters and their grandparents.  Their dialogue must reflect this reality and therefore, they navigate in both languages.

Elvin Dominici contributes to the body of works by writers abroad by taking a risk and stepping forward with a short novel that we can easily categorize as real or historic because beyond all the literary elements, it tells the story of his own mother’s suffering.  Every immigrant family, particularly Dominicans, can see themselves reflected in Rosa Delia’s viacrucis and her resolve to conquer a worthy life for herself and her children.

Success!

Juan Villar,

Author, Community Activist,

Polítician, Principal, Gregorio Luperón High School 

Black Rose

I

1

That Friday morning, the last Friday of the school year (which looked every bit like any other day for a typical student with a lot of plans) began a time in my life that I‘ll never be able to forget. My spirits weren’t as high as those of my classmates, who jostled each other to hit the streets, to live Christmas vacation to the fullest. The classroom is crowded with colorful objects, like saplings growing in plastic cups for science class, the usual charts with the Pythagorean Theorem and his famous formula stating that the square of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the square of its other two sides, other posters on the walls with the chlorophyll cycle and its pigmentation in plants. The teacher, on the other hand, insistent as always, asked us whether we had done our homework from the day before.

Anyone seeing this might say it was just a normal time in the life of an adolescent, but no. Something was eating me inside, making me lose my concentration. Four weeks had gone by since I’d had my period, and I hadn’t told my boyfriend anything. Those three weeks’ anxiety, insecurity and fear were my companions. I couldn’t find a way to face my father, either, who had always been so open with me. He held no taboos, and would talk to me about adolescent drug addiction, the pressures to be just another clone in society and not be myself, and even more. He talked to me about sex and its consequences if I didn’t take precautions, such as sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, all in order to make me understand my role as a responsible adolescent. He trusted me to make the best decisions, even when he wasn’t by my side.

I had no peace of mind. If what I feared was real, I didn’t know how my boyfriend would react, what he would throw my way. I, for my part, hesitated in a sea of uncertainty. I didn’t want to be a mother so young. I had so many plans for my life, like traveling, seeing the world, getting my degree as Dad had always advised me; I wanted to be financially independent and stable before becoming a mother. For God’s sake, I’d only turned 17 recently, I wasn’t ready for the responsibility of bringing a child into the world.

I feared living like the slave to a baby… the truth is, I didn’t want the hateful task of changing diapers, of having to dedicate so much attention and time to a being that I had not asked for, of throwing my whole life in the trash on account of a mistake. The fear of taking the test overwhelmed me; something inside me told me that I was pregnant, and this had me on a cliff’s edge, unable to sleep, devastated. I didn’t know what to do.

Wendy, look, Wendy!

What’s the matter, Katerina? I’m not in the mood, you’re the only one who knows what I’m going through.

From your answer, I know you haven’t gotten your period yet. What a problem! Look, I know you won’t have the courage to do the test on yourself, so I brought you a pregnancy detection kit.

Oh no, Kate, something’s going to hit me hard. Don’t ask me to take the test. I’ll die, my friend!

Put your fear aside, Wendy; whether you like it or not, we have to find out the situation. Maybe you’re just a little delayed and there’s no pregnancy. There’s no other choice. Today we have to clear up all doubts.

Listen, really, I don’t want to do the test on myself because it would confirm my worst nightmare.

Don’t worry, everything will be fine. Next recess we’ll go together to the bathroom, okay?

She was Kate, my best female friend, and she was totally right, but my fear of confirming what I already sensed was a lot larger. As much as I wanted to run away from this situation, I had to face it.

As soon as the next recess came, Kate and I headed to the bathroom, went in and closed the door. She handed me the pregnancy kit and said:

I brought three kits, all different brands so there are no doubts.

Okay, let me see.

I take the first test and don’t have the courage to look at the results. Kate picks it up and examines the box with the instructions, then tells me in a low, sad voice:

"Oh, Wendy, manita, I’m really sorry! You’re pregnant."

Noooo, no, no, this can’t be! Why me? What am I going to do, Kate? My dad’s going to kill me.

Don’t cry please, calm down! Look, if I were you, the first thing I would do is talk to Hedsy and see what he tells you, that way, the two of you will make a smarter decision. He can even go with you to talk to your Dad.

Dad doesn’t know Hedsy or even that I’m going out with him, and Dad has always told me that no matter who I’m going out with, to bring him home. The worst part is that Hedsy and I haven’t been going out for three months even. This is too fast. I myself don’t know if I want Hedsy for a husband.

Stop talking so much nonsense, you have to let him know and make a decision together. That baby belongs to both of you.

Oh, Father! Why, Kate? I want to die; I don’t want this belly!

Shhh, quiet, quiet or someone will hear us and call the principal’s office at school and things will get worse. Stop crying and get your act together so you can talk to Hedsy about the pregnancy.

My world had been destroyed now with confirmation of the pregnancy and I didn’t have the slightest idea what to do. My body moved because it had to, but I felt like I’d just died. So I see Hedsy in the hallway and he greets me as he always does, with a huge smile, cheerful. I imagine that having sex after only two months of a relationship put him in a good mood. How could I have been so stupid and irresponsible? I stand close by him, signal for him to lower his head with my hands and say to him:

Wait for me outside. I have something very important to tell you.

Wen, what’s the matter with you? You’ve got this expression like the devil himself possessed you. Today’s the last day of school. Change that face, baby!

I’m not in the mood. Wait for me, okay? Good-bye.

I looked away and headed off to the classroom. I didn’t know what he might say to me when I dropped this huge bomb on him. The hours flew by. With my nerves and the anxiety, I didn’t pay attention in any of my classes or take notes on homework assignments. My mind was very confused and I couldn’t understand my situation at that moment …

Once classes end, my friend Kate accompanies me down the hall until we’re out in front of the school. I see Hedsy standing next to the school bus and head toward him. Kate kisses me and says:

Good luck Wendy; call me when you get home.

I just nod yes. I didn’t have a lot to say and my spirits were down in the dumps. I looked at all my classmates, so cheerful, running to get home and start their Christmas holidays. I, however, had a rope around my neck and a crushed spirit.

Let’s walk. I don’t want to take the bus today.

Your house is far away. Are you sure you want to go there walking?

Yes, walk.

Wen, that face, woman! What’s the matter with you?

Oh, what’s the matter with me? That’s a good one!

So why are you crying now? I don’t like this thing. Are you having problems at home, with your father? What the hell’s the matter with you?

Your damn fault, your fault.

What did I do now? Stop beating around the bush and talk.

"Damn you, I’m pregnant. I’m behind by three weeks, coño."

Pregnant? You’re crazy. I used a condom when we were together and it was only once. Don’t come at me with that nonsense now.

"Yes, but coño,[1] remember it snapped, and from that day on my mind hasn’t given me any peace for thinking the worst. Today I took a test, and I’m pregnant by you."

The silence hit hard at that moment. Hedsy took the situation in, and then unceremoniously said to me:

Well, that belly’s your problem. Don’t talk to me about that subject, I don’t want to hear anything about it. Don’t call or come looking for me. That belly for sure is not mine, and you’re wanting to stick me with it.

"Look, you son of a gun, how can you tell me that to my face, coño? Your miserable animal!"

Cut me loose, woman, cut me loose and you find a solution for your mess! Don’t fucking bother me with that.

Hedsy ran off and left me alone in the middle of the highway on my way home. Now, on top of being pregnant, the father of my son leaves me alone with this problem. I lose my strength for walking, dragging my feet at every step. My eyes are dry. They dried up all my tears. I don’t want to go home. I don’t know what I’m going to do when Dad finds out about this problem. I can’t believe Hedsy’s going to leave me alone with this pregnancy. I don’t believe it.

It seems like Dad had come back from work. I go inside the house and without saying hello to anyone, I go to my room, take my clothes off, shower and sprawl on the bed, covering myself from head to toe. I don’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone.

"Bruja, are you there?"

It was the voice of Elvis, my older brother, knocking on the door to my room. I had to pull strength from out of nowhere and act like nothing was wrong. I couldn’t let anyone know about my pregnancy. So I get up and open the door, give him a hug, and say to him:

"Manito, you around today?"

"Look brujita, don’t you remember we’re leaving to Santo Domingo tomorrow to spend Christmas with Grandma?"

Oh, God! I don’t want to go there. The electricity always goes out because the politicians are so corrupt, and there’s bunches of mosquitoes. No, no, I don’t want to go.

Stop the nonsense. Dad bought the tickets already and we’re all going: Dad, Mom, Kelvin, you and I.

I know, I finished packing my bags yesterday but Dad didn’t tell me that you were coming, too.

Yes, I’m coming, so change that face and get yourself downstairs. Come and eat.

"Okay, manito lindo, I’ll be down in a second."

Elvis has always been very sweet to me, we get along so well. He lives in another state and works as a videogame graphic designer. I’ve always felt proud of my little brother. I wouldn’t have the nerve to watch his reaction if he were to find out about this belly. I go downstairs for dinner. Dad’s home already. He sees my sad expression and says to me:

My darling, put on a happy face; I know you don’t like to go to Santo Domingo, but it’s good for you to know your roots and share time with your family, because family’s always first.

Dad, that place is a backwater, and the worst part is the electricity goes out. You can’t go out because there’s so much crime. No, I don’t like to go there. Grandma has papers, why doesn’t she come to New Jersey instead?

Don’t be disrespectful. We’re going to Santo Domingo and that’s it.

We finished eating and I went to my room. I was able to make going to Santo Domingo the reason for my sad face, and not the thing that was tormenting me. I couldn’t sleep that night. All I heard in my mind was Hedsy’s voice, insistently repeating over and over:

Well, that belly’s your problem. Don’t talk to me about that subject. I don’t want to hear anything about it. Don’t call or come looking for me. That belly for sure is not mine, and you’re wanting to stick me with it.

The next day, we went to the airport, boarded the plane, and the next thing I knew we were in Dominican Republic. At the airport we were greeted by Uncle Mario, the only person I get along with in the family. Everyone’s happy, greetings, hugs and smiles while I had my mind consumed with one problem, one single worry: an unwanted pregnancy.

My only choice is to get an abortion so I can get out of this pregnancy and no one will find out. An abortion scares me a lot. That’s practically killing the baby.

Wendy! Wake up, girl.

Yes Dad, sorry.

Come get in the car, we’re leaving now.

"Okay.

Everyone in the car is cheerful. Mario and my Dad talk about their youth, those boring stories that old people always tell when they get together. We reach Grandma’s. She lives on the second floor of a 2-story house. My brothers bring the luggage up. Abuela, cheerful as always, gives out hugs and kisses. 

God bless you all, thank God you arrived safely. Elvin, I saved a shot of rum and a six-pack of beer for us to share as family.

"Mami, at 73 you have problems with arthritis, high blood pressure and God knows what other complications, and you’re drinking alcohol?" my father scolded her.

"Look here, coño, don’t come around wanting to fucking hassle me. I’ve got my ticket to the land of the dead all paid up, and I’ll stop drinking the day I die. You want me to clock you one? I can still give you a whipping, old as I am."

Abuela has always liked to drink and dance. I can’t remember seeing her sad. She was always in high spirits and cheerful.

Wendy my darling, you’re big and beautiful now.

"Bendición, Grandma, thanks."

"Take that frown off your face, you’re on vacation. Are you hungry? I made you your favorite dish, arroz con leche, although we’re going to have dinner at Mario’s house."

I love arroz con leche, and Grandma knew that. What she didn’t know was how depressed I was with my terrible secret. Still, I couldn’t pass up the chance to eat that delicious arroz con leche.

"Abuela, you know how to win me over, huh? Yes, please, spoon a teeny bit out for me."

I sit down to eat my arroz con leche, when Dad says:

Let’s go to Mario’s house. His wife cooked a goat there.

Dad, I don’t feel so good, my back aches. Why don’t you all go have dinner and I’ll stay here?

Look young lady, don’t start up with your nonsense. We’re all headed to Mario’s.

"I already ate some arroz con leche. I don’t feel good, Dad; I’m going to stay here."

Elvin, leave that girl alone. You all go. I’ll stay here at home with Wendy.

"Mami, but we came here to spend time with you and now you’re encouraging this rudeness."

Son, don’t make me give you a whupping, you know I will. Leave Wendy alone and you all go eat. Today’s the first of many days. We’ll spend time together tomorrow, when those little beers will be colder.

Fine, okay, we’ll see each other tomorrow, then. We’ll sleep over there tonight so we’re not out on the street too late.

"Okay. Vayan con Dios."[2]

Grandma has always been very supportive of me. It must be because I’m her only granddaughter. At least I don’t have to face people with this problem on my shoulders. Maybe it’s easier to get an abortion in this country. My God, I’m going to be a murderer now.

At that moment the electricity goes out and the house grows dark. Grandma tells me:

Darling, don’t move from the chair while I go look for a candle.

So I sit there thinking about how much I hate coming to this backwater country, what with the electricity always going off and leaving houses dark. Now I can’t use the Internet and talk to my friend Kate, my only consolation for this problem. The truth is I don’t know how Mom can move around the house without tripping on anything, as dark as it is.

My grandma lights up a candle, places it on top of the table in the dining room and sits down on her rocking chair. Suddenly, I feel the arroz con leche come up in my throat. I get horrible nausea and I’m about to vomit. I grab my mouth with my right hand, run to the bathroom, kneel in front of the toilet bowl and vomit non-stop.

God, I thought I was dying. Everything I’d just eaten I left in the toilet! Grandma goes to the bedroom, comes back with a handkerchief doused in alcoholado[3] and rubs my forehead. 

What’s the matter with you, young lady? She put the bottle of bay rum close to my nose. Stick your nose in there and sniff it so you stop vomiting.

Grandma, I’m fine, don’t worry; let me stand up here, you go into the living room.

Come here, sit on the couch and keep sniffing the bottle. I’m going to make you some oregano tea with salt and lemon. That will stop your nausea right away.

I sit down on the couch and the candlelight glow lights up my hands and face. I see my soul in the darkness, in the shadows, bearing this punishment from life, totally alone, terrified and forlorn, unable to tell anyone who might offer me support and this being growing inside me without my consent. I feel a bitter taste in my mouth now. Do I have morning sickness? This can’t be. What am I going to do? I can’t take it anymore, carrying around this baby who nobody wants.

Here, darling, this tea will cure your stomach.

Thanks, Grandma.

Wendy, what’s the matter with you? Grandma let it out and the question hit me like a bucket of cold water. I feel like something has made you very uptight and even if you don’t like to come and visit me in this ‘backwater of a country,’ as you call it, I’m sure that’s not the reason for your being uptight.

Grandma, I’m fine.

It makes me very happy to see my family in my home. For me, my children and grandchildren are the most important people in the world because they came from me, they’re the family that I educated.

I can imagine why you think like that, Grandma, after bearing three children and having to raise them alone, because Dad told me that you got divorced from my Grandpa Amado.

If a woman doesn’t fight for the people she loves and who depend on her, she’s cursed for life. My four children are God’s biggest, most blessed treasure. That will be a blessing for you, too, when your time comes to be a mother.

You had four children? But there are three, Aunt Anne, Kirsy and Dad.

You had an uncle who died at your age, young, before he’d lived his life, before ever even having the blessing of becoming a dad.

Grandma’s every word plunged a knife into my heart. Here she was telling me about the blessings of being a mother with me wishing not to