Inspired by Sandra Cisneros's Woman Hollering Creek. This is what happens when English 4AP and Spanish 4AP mix. You have been warned.
Luisa always walks fast to the bus stop, and sits there in a huff and waits for me and Carmencita to get there and she says Chicas, you're too slow. I missed the first two buses cause of you. The first time she ever said that made Carmencita cry, but I told her that Luisa didn't really mean it. Luisa never tells truth about anything. I think it's sad like that, that Luisa would let Carmencita believe that and make her worry. I told Luisa that and she said It's her fault for believing me. So ever since, I never believe Luisa.
The bus gets there and we jump on and run to the first seat open next to a window, but not Luisa. She folds her arms and sits behind the bus driver, and every now and then I see her arm slip onto his shoulder and he looks back out of the corner of his eye and smiles at her and she smiles back and they say something we can't hear. Then Carmencita will stick her head out the window and shout at the people on the sidewalk. Luisa stares at us like El Diablo/, and I yank on Carmencita's arm, cause I know when we get out with the towels that smell like ocean and the scritchy scratchy lawn chair, she'll call us /tontas chicas and say we ruined everything. We tell her we didn't mean to, and she says she'll never get a boyfriend with us around. She tells us that we can just go home now, and Carmencita starts to cry again and I stand there looking at my toes, wishing I could go to the ocean, to the soft cool ocean that never expects you to be anything you're not, that washes away the sand from my feet and makes me feel like a floating angel. Luisa screams Callate and grabs the chair from my hands and struts off down the sand, not looking back at Carmencita as she sits on the sand-grainy sidewalk. Carmencita sobs and cries with her fists balled up, but me, I look out to the ocean again and say in a quiet voice /the waves are wearing their sombreros blancos, it's gonna be cold in the water today/.
Carmencita pretends like she doesn't hear for a while, then looks up and asks too cold for swimming? I say no, probably not, but there's only one way to know for sure and we smile and run off to the water and throw our towels down next to Luisa, who has fallen asleep in the sun on the lawn chair, trying to get a suntan. Carmencita plays sea monster with the kelp and I swim out to the cove and float on my back with my arms out like the cross we see in the glass windows at church. Some times the waves get in my mouth and I cough for a while on the salt, but it's steady most times, and it's always cold and fresh, you know? You can always count on it being the same water, the same smell, and always the same time Carmencita jumps on my belly and roars. Then we look over at Luisa, who wakes up and is hanging on some mexicano/, some times a /gringo/, as far as her little purple bikini will take her. Her nails, perfect, her hair, perfect, her tan, perfect. All the guys like her because she comes to the beach and her hair doesn't get wet, her bikini doesn't smell salty, her belly button doesn't have sand in it. She smiles and sits and rolls her eyes, letting the guys look at her like she wants them to do. Carmencita says /Luisa looks like a beach angel, she's so pretty. I give Carmencita a smile and lift her off and tell her, no, you're the beach angel cause you're not afraid to swim.
We giggle and doggy-paddle back and walk to her, looking like drowned chihuahuas with dry sand stuck to our wet feet and the strand of seaweed that stayed in Carmencita's ratty hair. Luisa tries not to look at us until we come up to get our towels, then tries to explain to her boyfriends, these are my little sisters, don't mind them, what were you saying? and shoves Carmencita away from telling her about sea monsters. I get dry fast, and I help Carmencita, and suddenly Luisa is a brighter red than her shoulders, is grabbing the chair and towels and Carmencita on her hip, walking away fast. I run to keep up, and Luisa tells us how bad we were for interrupting her and her Domingo/. Carmencita asks /who's Domingo and Luisa rolls her eyes and says you'll get some when you get older/. And we're gone on the bus and walking down the sidewalk and the sand burns my feet as we walk on the pavement to our house. Mama is always inside, her Sunday dress wrinkled and lipstick messed up and hair scraggly, and she looks tired but she says /we got extra money, chicas, let's go out to eat. I ask her once who gave her the money, and Carmencita said /Domingo/.
And Mama said si, Domingo as she turns to her bedroom.