With hands under my chin, a carnation-pink dress on my narrow shoulders, I pose as Tia Amanda offers new ways to clasp my hands together. Así, mira, así, she tries in her breathy voice. Now my hands are pressed as though in prayer beside my cheek as my smile stiffens. She takes the photo.
This fifth birthday, my mother drives a dull knife through pink frosting, white cake, in the shade of grandma’s corrugated aluminum roof patio. Voices crowd each other, ignoring the gentle crinkle of the paper that lines boxes of gifts, my finger pressing on all the corners and imperfect folds. In the driveway, cousins jump around a frantic piñata, the rope bouncing wildly in the air. The older kids laugh by the rose bushes, pointing at the little ones.
It is hot, September, and I sit on a low brick wall alone. My uncle has started an argument with a family friend but everyone pretends not to hear it. They laugh at the boy who has just learned the gifts are not for him. I watch for the discrepancies in my parents’ faces, how they smile tight when we are out of our home. They teach me to sit quietly and wait, to kiss the cheek of every new stranger. This chaos, it will permeate my skin if I just sit still.
Adriana is a native of Southern California where she lives with her daughter and two guinea pigs, all of whom are very vocal. She received her Masters in English and Creative Writing at Chapman University. She is an indiscriminate book hoarder, Zentangle enthusiast, and is fascinated by the intersection of poetry and visual media.