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Her Sad Song

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“Hector!”

Coco looked up from her dolls to see mamá’s angry face. That face was never a good thing for papá, it meant mamá was gonna take off her shoe. She giggled, it was always funny when the shoe hit papá. Both her padres looked down at her, surprised. She squealed when her papá lifted her up with a spin.

“Ay, mi amor, what's so funny,” he asked, a smile on his face.

Coco giggled again. “Mamá’s gonna take off her zapato!”

“Oh, is she now,” her papá laughed.

Coco nodded. “Mamá tengo angry face!”

“Tiene,” her mamá corrected. “Mamá tiene angry face.”

Coco nodded. “And papá gets hit with a zapato!”

“Ay, mi amor, you laugh at my pain!” Coco giggled along with her papá.

“Give me my daughter, Hector,” her mamá said in a tone she had never heard before.

“Our daughter,” her papá corrected in another tone she had never heard before.

“Mi hija,” her mamá yelled.

Coco shrieked before hiding her face in her papá's shoulder. “Mija,” her mamá said softly. Coco chanced a peak at her mamá, who now seemed less threatening. “Come to your mamá,” she said, holding out her arms and taking a step forward.

Her papá quickly took a few steps away from her mamá. Coco looked at him with wide, curious eyes. He usually loved mamá’s hugs. But her papá wasn't looking at her, he wasn't even looking at her mamá. He was looking at his shoes. “Let me just say goodbye.”

Her mamá didn't say anything for a long time. Then she sighed. “Hurry up.” Her mamá headed towards the kitchen as her papá took her to her room.

He sat her down on her bed and took a step back before getting down on one knee. He picked up his guitar and Coco started swinging her legs in excitement. When papá brought out his guitar, it meant he would sing. She loved that! She smiled brightly as he strummed the guitar and started to sing.

Recuérdame,

Hoy me tengo que ir, mi amor

Recuérdame,

No llores por favor.

Te llevo en mi corazón y cerca me tendrás,

A solas yo te cantaré,

Soñando en regresar

Coco always looked at her papá in awe when he sang to her. To her, there was nothing more amazing than music. Especially if it was her papá playing it. Her excitement raised as her Papa stood up.

Recuérdame,

She giggled as he came closer. “Papá!”

Aunque tenga que emigrar 

Recuérdame

Si mi guitarra oyes llorar

As her papá went down on one knee again, she sat up on hers, shaking in excitement as her papá brought himself closer. She reached for his face as she sang along.

Ella con su triste canto te acompañará. 

Hasta que en mis brazos estés

Her papá started pulling away from her.

Recuérdame.

They finished the song together. Her papá’s eyes were shiny, they always were when he sang that song. He set down his guitar before picking her up with a spin and holding her close. She hugged him back with a giggle. “Papá!”

She felt her papá shaking. “Te amo, Mija, te amo mucho.”

“Te amo tambien, papá!” She giggled as he set her down. She looked up at him, curiously. The shiny in his eyes was falling out. “Papá, por que llores?”

He only smiled at her before picking up his guitar. He grabbed her hand and they both walked out of the room. Her mamá was waiting for her right there. She crouched down and opened her arms. Coco immediately ran into them, giving her mamá a hug. When her mamá stood up, she smiled and waited for her papá to giver her mamá a hug. She watched as they both only stood still.

“Hector,” her mamá finally spoke. “If you leave, don’t come back.”

Her papá smiled. She didn’t like that smile. It meant her papá was actually sad. “Mi amor, I will come back, I promise. This is the last time.”

“That’s what you said last time!”

Her papá still had that smile as he gave her mamá a kiss on the cheek. Then he knelt down and gave her one of the forehead. He walked to the door and turned to them, the smile she loved now on his face. “Adios, mis amores. I will come back, I promise.” He wasn’t looking at her when he said that, he had been looking at her mamá. Then he turned around and walked away.

Coco ran up to the door to watch him go, just like she always did. She watched as her papá’s figure faded away into the distance.

The next few days went on as they usually did when her papá was away. Her mamá cooked and cleaned and did errands. Then they would go to her Tíos’ home and she would okay with whichever one had her. When they got home, it was time for her mamá to cook and clean again. Her mamá always kept looking at the door and Coco always wondered why.


 

There was a letter every week

While her mamá’s world was all about errands, her’s was stuck on her papá. Especially the letters he would send her. Her mamá would read them to her and he would write about his shows and how a certain city had something she might like. Sometimes there had been poems. She loved the poems the most, she imagined him singing them to her when he finally came home. Her mamá made a face every time she saw one, a face that let Coco know that she wasn’t happy about them, but would tolerate them anyway. Her mamá would be smiling at the end of the letter, but it wasn’t a happy smile.

Just like now.

“Te amo much,” her mamá read. “Love, your papá.” Her mamá made that smile again.

Coco looked at her curiously. “Que paso, mamá.”

Her mamá set the letter down and lifted her in her arms. “Nada, mija.” She set her down. “Are you ready?”

Coco nodded, now was their daily trip to her tíos’ house.

Her Tío Felipe was showing her how to make different animal noises as her mamá talked with her Tío Óscar.

“Its been three months,” her mamá said. “He's never been gone this long.”

“He's sending money, at least?”

“Of course he is! I’d find him and kill him with my bare hands if he didn't.”

Tío Óscar laughed. “I have no doubt about that!” He looked to her mamá and found a worried expression. “Imelda, you don’t have to worry. He wouldn’t have fought so hard only to leave you in the end.”

Her mamá nodded. “I hope you’re right.”


 

The letters stopped coming.

A week passed by with no letter.

Then two weeks.

Then a month.  

Coco was still too young to understand the concept of time, but she knew that it had been a really long time since her papá had sent her a letter. Before, when there was no letter, it meant he was going to surprise them. Which meant he was coming home. So she stayed by the door whenever she could so that she would be the first person he saw when he got back. Sometimes she would stay there all day, no matter how boring it was. Others, she could only be there for a few minutes because her mamá had errands to run. On those days, she would look around at the people, hoping to see her papá. But it never happened.

She had been staring at the door ever since she woke that morning. She jumped when her mamá slammed the door. “That no good músico!” Her mamá smiled down at her before picking her up with a spin. “Let’s get you out of tu pijamas, mija. Tus tíos estan esperando.”

Walking to her tíos’ house was always fun for her. Everyone would always say hola, the stray gato that mamá seemed to love always walked with them, and she knew that at the end of the trip, she would get to see her tíos. Their house was a lot smaller than hers and mamá’s, but her tíos didn’t seem to care since they always invited them over. At home, it was always silent since her papá wasn’t there to sing. But at her tíos’ home, they were always talking and laughing.

Not today, though.

They, all sat in silence after mamá sat her down with her doll. Finally her mamá spoke. “He’s not coming back.” Her tíos said nothing. “He stopped writing. He stopped sending money a long time ago.”

“...What are you going to do,” her Tío Óscar asked.

Her mamá shook her head. “Yo no se. There’s not much I can do around here. And washing clothes doesn’t bring in enough money. And I can’t keep leaching off of you two.”

“What about making shoes,” her Tío Felipe suggested.

“You’ve always liked shoes.”

Her mamá took a second to look at her feet. “I don’t know, Felipe-”

“Señor Nava offered it to you a few months ago, didn’t he,” her Tío Óscar asked.

“He offered it to that no good musico!”

“Maybe he’ll take you once you tell him your, um, position.”

“We’ll do it too,” her Tío Felipe said. “Make it a family thing!”

It took a while for her mamá to agree, but, in the end, they were all headed to La Zapateria. Right now, as they entered the Zapateria, she sat on her Tío Óscar’s shoulders as Tío Felipe kept poking her side and making her giggle.

“Quit it, Felipe,” her mamá ordered without turning around. “Hola, Señor Nava,” she greeted the short, old man.

“Hola, Señora Rivera,” the man greeted her mamá. “What brings you here, mija?”

“Do you remember a few months ago-”

“Mija, I hardly can remember anything nowadays,” he interrupted with a smile. “I can barely remember mis nietos names.”

Her mamá smiled sadly at him. “Do you think you can remember how to make a shoe? I was hoping you could teach me.”

“Teach you ?! I thought I offered that to su esposo?”

“And mis hermanos,” her mamá went on. “We would love to learn how to make shoes. You know, before you and your family leave? Santa Cecilia won’t last without a decent shoe maker.”

The old man didn’t say anything for a while, only continued cutting some black stuff. He put his tool down and turned to her. “I’ll teach you three.” Her mamá smiled brightly.


 

After that, her mamá’s life was all about shoes. Coco’s, though, was still all about her papá. She still waited by the door every morning and would look through her letters again. She didn’t know what they said, but they were comforting. Her mamá had thrown everything else of him away. His clothes, his suits, his music !

There was one thing she couldn’t get rid of, though.

When she saw her mamá grab the family photo with an angry face, she walked over to her wondering what would happen. Her mamá ripped a part of the photo off and let it fall to the floor. Coco picked it up while her mamá was busy. It was her papá! She smiled at the photo and hugged it to herself.

While her mamá was busy doing whatever she was doing, Coco went to her room and brought out a box from under her bed. Its where she kept all his letters and poems and it would now be where she kept a picture of her papá that her mamá so happily gave her.

She pushed the box under her bed again right before her mamá came in. “Lets go, mija! Your shoes are waiting for you!

Coco jumped up enthusiastically. Her mamá had been telling her all about how she had made some shoes for her and now she was going to be able to try them on. All the way there, her mamã kept telling her about how amazing her shoes were going to look. By the time they got there, Coco had extremely high expectations. Señor Nava was talking with a customer when her mamá sat her down and took out a pair of botas. Coco gasped. They were pretty! She eagerly waited for her mamá to put them on and when she did, Coco stood up, amazed. They were comfortable! But one test remained. She leaped off the chair and landed expertly on her feet before she started twirling and dancing. She looked down at her feet. The shoes were still intact and she heard her mamá sigh in relief. “Come on, mija,” her mamá said, standing up. “Let’s go show them to Señor Nava.”

“Ok, mamá!”


 

On her fifth birthday, she started to worry.

“Mamá, when’s papá coming home?”

Her mamá almost dropped the small cake she was carrying. It was the first time she had ever asked that question. Her mamá gave her a smile that she now knew was a forced one, one you wore to pretend you weren’t mad or frustrated or sad. “Oh, who knows, mija. Maybe he’ll be back soon.” She set the cake down at the table.

“You think he’ll bring me back everything he promised?”

“Who knows, mija! Your papá doesn’t really know how to keep his promises.”

“Whatta you think he’s doing right now?”

“Probably playing his guitar,” her mamá started cutting the cake. “To some women. Right by Ernesto’s side as he forgets everything about us. Forgetting everything he left behind! Leaving us just a little experience in his life! Like the stupid, no good musico that he is!”

Coco stared at her cake with wide eyes. Her mamá had completely ruined it!

“Mi pastel!”

Her mamá looked down, surprised. “Dios mio! I’m so sorry, mija!”

“It’s ok,” Coco dismissed. “I was gonna ruin it with my face.” Her mamá laughed. Coco started laughing with her. “Papá shoves my face in it!” Though Coco kept on laughing, her mamá had stopped.

“Mija,” her mamá said, setting the knife down. Coco looked at her sad face wondering what was wrong. “There’s something I have to tell you.” Her mamá picked her up before sitting her on her lap. She hugged her tightly and started shaking. “Your papá isn’t coming home.”

“What?” Not coming home? But he promised. “Why?!”

Her mamá did something she never thought she would ever do. She started to cry. “I don’t know, mija. I don’t know.”

“But he promised.”

“Yo se, mija.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Yo se, mija.” Her mamá pulled her closer as more tears kept falling. “Yo se. Yo se, yo se, yo se,” her mamá repeated into her hair.

Her Tíos barged through the door not a second later, each one holding a cake. “I brought the cake!” They yelled in sync. They looked to each other, surprised. “Oye! I was supposed to get the cake! No you weren’t!” Her mamá sniffed and both turned to them again, their eyes wide. “Imelda!” They both came running to her mamá. “What’s wrong,” Her Tío Óscar asked.

Her mamá didn’t even look at them.

Coco looked at her for a second before looking to her Tíos. “Papá promised he would come back.” Coco gasped as her mamá suddenly stood up and handed her to her Tío Felipe. There were still tears running down her face, even as she wiped them. Her mamá didn’t say anything as she walked out of the kitchen and into her room. She turned to her tíos. “Papá promised.”

“Mija, sometimes people say things,” her Tío Felipe started.

“That they don’t really mean,” her Tío Óscar finished.

“But papá promised.”

“We know, mija.”

“We do.”

“But not everyone-”

“-keeps their promises.”

Coco still didn’t understand.


 

Not even ten years later.

Her mamá had completely banned music from the house. She used to be able to get away with a humming or whistling a tune, but each year her mamá got more strict because of that stupid gato. Her mamá took in the kitten years ago, naming it Pepita. What Coco once thought was an adorable little animal turned out to be a complete soplón! Coco used to sneak out of the house in many costumes she made herself to go listen the music at the plaza. There was no way her mamá could recognize her! But that stupid cat knew her scent, so her mamá found her every single time .

Now, she couldn’t even make a noise that sounded anything remotely close to music. And she didn’t even try, her mamá’s shoe was always an arm’s length away. Technically, any shoe was an arm’s length away, her mamá’s shoe business thriving and all. She couldn’t complain too much, her thriving business was the only reason she was getting a quince…

...without music.

She looked at herself in the mirror, her makeup professionally done, her hair in perfect curls, her earrings shining with their pink crystals that matched her dress. She thought it very stupid that her quince would be the only one in history to happen without music. How was she supposed to do any of the dances, how was anyone supposed to have fun?! She guessed she would find out soon enough.

Her damas and chambelanes were waiting for her outside of the house. Along with Pepita. Coco rolled her eyes.

“You ready,” one of the damas asked. That was her best friend, Nathalie. A lively girl with light brown hair that she always kept in a braid. Except, today, they were in curls because today was important.

Coco nodded, smiling brightly. “Ready than I’ll ever be.”

Nathalie held out and arm before any of the chambelanes could. Coco laughed at their annoyed expressions. Looks like Nathalie was getting all the glory escorting the Quinceañera to the church.

“You’re shaking like a chihuahua,” Nathalie whispered. “You told me you were ready.”

Coco let out a nervous laugh. “Yeah, when I said that-”

“Let me guess,” she interrupted. “That was a lie?”

Coco let out a chuckle at how accurate she mocked her. “You know me too well, prima.” She looked ahead. They were getting closer to the church. “I’m ready for this, just not for later. Seré muertos when mi mamá gets her hands on me.”

“Well, forget about that for now. You’ll worry about that when she gets her hands on you. Tonight you will have fun.” She made a dramatic pause. “With music!”

“Sssh! Don’t say it so loudly, she’ll hear you!” Coco glanced down at the gato. For some reason, she was completely sure that she could understand them. Soplón.

Nathalie only giggled as they made it to the church and finally let her go.

As she walked up the steps, her mamá smiled at her so lovingly as she handed her the bouquet that she almost felt guilty of what would happen later. Almost. “You look so beautiful, Mija,” she said, her eyes becoming watery.

“Thank you, mamá.”

Her mamá brought her into a hug before pushing her up the last few steps, where her Tíos waited for her. Her Tío Felipe went behind her and she stood up straight as he put the pendant on her. He gave her a hug when he was done before lightly shoving her towards her Tío Óscar. They both gave each other smiles before she slightly bent her head, allowing him to put on the tiara. It had pink crystals, just like the earrings. He gave her a hug before shoving her through the doors of the church.

Now that she was alone, she sighed in relief. Everyone was going to be treating her like she was special for the rest of the day. It felt nice, but there was only one person that ever truly made her feel special. She walked down the aisle and towards the altar de Virgen de Guadalupe. She slid down to her knees and bowed, placing the bouquet on the altar. Then she brought her hands together and prayed. “Virgen de Guadalupe, escuchame, por favor. I’m not asking for anything big today. I just want my plan to go well. I just want to hear some music without having to hide it from my mamá. I’m hoping you can make that happen. If you can’t, I understand. Gracias.” She signed the cross on her body before standing up and walking towards the exit. Everyone cheered as she exited the church.

Now, the festivities could begin.


 

Despite there no being music, people actually were enjoying themselves. They talked and ate the treats set out for them. They danced with only laughter as their music. They congratulated her on her womanhood. Her Tíos shared stories of her little mischievous days. And her mamá watched everything from a corner, Pepita on her shoulder and a satisfied smile on her face. Coco had barely spoken a word to her all day. In fact, she was sure that thanks she gave to her at the church had been pretty much it. After rejecting another dancer, she walked over to her. Her mamá didn’t look at her, just kept staring at the party.

“This is a great party,” she said.

Her mamá nodded. “All for you.”

“Tío Óscar and Felipe telling my stories, the children stuffing their faces with treats, the elders dancing to nothing but their laughter.” She chuckled. “Who needs music anyway?”

She felt more than saw her mamá glance at her. “I hired a mariachi.”

Coco turned to her, surprised. As did Pepita. “Que?”

“I hired a mariachi to play during your dances. Pero solo tus bailes!” Her mamá turned to her with a glare. “You are not allowed to request anything else!”

Coco didn’t really care about that. She was so overfilled with joy that she brought her mamá in a hug, scaring Pepita off her shoulder. “Oh, gracias, gracias, gracias, mamá! Te amo mucho! Te amo mucho!” She broke the hug and smiled at her mamá with tears in her eyes. Then she ran. “Nathalie!”

Her amiga turned to her, her face surprised and covered in chocolate. “Guh?”

“Que?”

Nathalie swallowed the chocolate in her mouth. “Que,” she repeated.

Coco got her excitement running all over again. “Mi mamá hired a mariachi for the dances!”

“Mentirosa!”

“Si cierto! Ella dijo! I’m surprised as you are!” They both squealed.

“Espera, espera,” Nathalie stopped her jumping. Coco looked at her, confused. “Is later’s plan still a go, though?”

Coco gasped. She hadn’t even thought about that. “Dios mío, yo no se! I mean, mi mamá hired a mariachi, pero…”

“Pero que?”

“Pero merezco que cantar la canción de mi papá.”

Nathalie nodded at the determination in her eyes. “I’ll tell the others the plan is still on.” She laughed. “Try not to die, though, ok?”

Coco laughed as well.


 

The first dance didn’t happen and it broke Coco’s heart that her papá wasn’t here. Her mamá, though, made no hesitation to tell everyone they were only doing the family dance. Coco smiled. That’s what she thought.

It was weird, seeing her mamá dance. She looked so focused, so confident, so... happy ! How could música be so terrible if it brought a smile that big to her mamá’s face?

Everyone cheered when the dance was done. Her mamá smiled at her before dusting her dress off and going to stand at the same corner she had been at the entire party. Coco just knew that if anyone complimented her on her dancing, she would tell them she had no clue what they were talking about. But Coco didn’t have time to laugh at that, Nathalie was already leading her mamá away with a fake problem. And Pepita was following. That stupid gato better not ruin this.

Once Coco knew she was gone, she ran up to the mariachi. “Perdoname, Señor, pero can I borrow su guitarra para la canción?”

The Musico smiled before nodding and handing her the guitar. She stood in the middle of the plaza before loudly strumming the guitar. It got everyone around to quiet down and soon the entire plaza was quiet, even her Tíos, who started looking around frantically. She didn’t pay them any mind though. “I will be playing a song that mi papá used to sing to me every night when I was just a girl.” And so she sang.

Recuérdame,

Hoy me tengo que ir, mi amor

Recuérdame,

No llores, por favor.

Te llevo en mi corazón y cerca me tendrás,

A solas yo te cantaré soñando en regresar.

Recuérdame,

Aunque tengo que emigrar,

Recuérdame,

Si mi guitarra oyes llorar.

Ella con su triste canto te acompañará,

Hasta que en mis brazos tú estés,

Recuérdame

Though that had been all her father had sung to her, over the years she decided to add her own words. And so she kept singing.

Recuérdame,

Si en tu mente vivo estoy,

Recuérdame,

Mis sueños yo te doy.

Te llevo en mi corazón y te acompañaré,

Unidos en nuestra canción, contigo ahí estaré

Recuérdame,

Si sola crees estar

Recuérdame,

Y mi cantar te irá a abrazar.

Aún en la distancia nunca vayas a olvidar,

Que yo contigo siempre voy,

Recuérdame.

She finished the song with the last strum of the guitar. She smiled as everyone cheered. But when she opened her eyes, she saw that not everyone was cheering. Her mamá was walking straight towards her, her face covered in rage and Pepita by her side. “Pinche gato,” she muttered before realizing what danger she was in.

“Que estas haciendo,” her mamá yelled, ripping the guitarra from her hands. The audience was silent in an instance.

“Mamá, it was just one song,” Coco tried making it sound like no big deal.

“It wasn’t just a song,” her mamá yelled. “You think I don’t know what song that is?! Do you think I’m stupid?! And when did you learn to play the guitar?! Have you been keeping secrets from me?!”

“No! I mean, si, pero-”

“Pero nada! You know how I feel about music! Music is a curse. A careless indulgence that almost tore this family apart! I kept it together, not him ! He abandoned his family! He abandoned us! He abandoned you !” Coco was sure that shiver that went down her spine was the result of her heart completely shattering. Tears started falling before she even knew it. “And yet, you still remember him as some kind of hero! Pues, el no es! If he were one, he’d be here! Pero, el no es! El no es, el no es, el no es! How many times must I repeat myself before you understand that he didn’t care about us! He cared more about music than he ever did us!”

Her mamá finally stopped yelling and took a deep, shaking breath. When she looked at her, Coco thought she saw guilt in her eyes, but she didn’t wait around to find out. She took off running, finally letting her sobs out.

She didn’t hear her mother sigh. She didn’t hear her yell to everyone that the party was over. She didn’t hear her say, “What am I going to do with her?”


 

Coco ran as fast and far as she could. Thank God that they never got to changing her shoes, she wouldn’t have known how to run in heels. She ran to the only other safeplace she had. The attic was too close to her pris- Casa, her casa. It felt more like a prison, though. Now more than ever. She just couldn’t go there. The dark, empty forest looked more inviting, even if her dress kept getting caught on bushes and her hair on low branches. She lost a few strips of the skirt of her gown and her tiara, and her curls were a complete mess. She was sure her makeup was ruined from all the tears. And the closer she got to the river, the dirtier her shoes and the hem of her gown got.

She fell to her knees when she was finally at the river and let out a deafening cry. Her mamá was lying. Her papá loved her. Those were some of the last words he had said to her. So it had to be true! He loved her! He loved her, he loved her, he loved her! “He loves me, he loves me, he loves me,” she repeated to herself. Yet, it didn’t make her feel any better. Her mamá’s words were getting to her, filling her with doubt. Each point she had made felt like a jab to her heart.

What if her mamá was right? What if he had abandoned them? What if he had cared more about music than he did them? That would explain why he had left without hesitation, why the letters had stopped coming, why he had never returned ! Each realization made her cry harder. “He didn’t care about us,” she sobbed. “He didn’t care about me !” More sobs came out. “But he promised! He promised, he promised, he promised!” Repeating his lie only made her cry harder. She ripped out damp grass from the ground and threw it in the river, her entire body filled with anger. “Pinche mentiroso! Traidor! Desertor! Cobarde !” With every insult she sent to her papá, she grew weaker.

Soon, she could only sob into her knees. She wasn’t sure how long she stayed there, but la luna was high in the sky by the time she finally stopped. She took a shaky breath. “Why would he say something he didn’t mean?” Her Tíos had told her that, she remembered. After she had asked when her papá was coming home, her mamá had said he wasn’t. But she didn’t believe her. Because he had told her he promised to come back. Even when her mamá told him not to, he looked her in the eye and said he would.

It hit her like a ton of ladrillos.

Her mamá had told him not to come back. Those were her exact words, she remembered now. “ If you leave, don’t come back. ” She had said that! Coco wiped whatever tears she had left and started laughing. “She told him not to come back! But she didn’t mean it!” She crawled towards the water and looked at her reflection. She looked like a bruja, but a happy one. Then she looked up to the sky. “He doesn’t care about music more than me! He didn’t abandon me! He loves me!” She let out another laugh before splashing the water in glee. “He loves me, he loves me, he loves me,” she yelled, this time with no doubt. The only reason he wasn’t here was because he had taken her mamá’s words too seriously. He wanted to come home! She could feel it now! He was just too scared! “I-I-I have to find him,” she resolved. “I have to tell him she didn’t mean it! I have to tell him that he can come home!” She laughed in joy at how easy it was. “He can come home!” She let out a few more giggles before realizing a flaw in her plan. How would she find him? She didn’t know where he was, she didn’t have money to travel. All she had were his letters. And her mamá didn’t give nearly enough allowance to be able to travel.

Her eyes widened in realization. She had just solved her problems. She had his letters! From all the cities he had been to! Someone was bound to remember him, her papá was unforgettable! And if she wanted more money, she would actually have to start working in the shop. She would work just until she had enough money. She would play along with her mamá just until she could get away. She nodded, accepting her plan. “I’m going to find you, papá, y te taeré a casa.” She stood up with newfound hope. Convincing her mamá was going to be easy.


 

As she got closer to the town, she could hear people yelling. “Socorro!” “Coco!” Were people looking for her? She rolled her eyes at herself. Of course people were looking for her. She heard a couple of children calling her name nearby.

Still in the shadows, and in a good mood, she waited until they got closer before jumping out. “Donde estan mis niños?!” She wailed, causing them to scream and drop their lanterns.

“La llorona,” one yelled in fear before they all ran off, screaming.

She let out a few giggles and chortles. She was sure one of them peed their pants. She felt a bit guilty, but she still laughed. She decided to head to her home. She walked with her head down, she didn’t want to look like she was in a good mood.

“Coco!” She snapped her head towards the familiar voice that was her mamá’s. Coco ran towards her and buried her face in her shoulders. “Mija, I was so worried!”

“Lo siento, mamá,” she wailed. “I’m sorry! I should have listened to you!” She forced tears out of her eyes. “You’ve always been there for me! It was you who put a roof over my head and food in my stomach! Not him! He’s nothing! I’m sorry I didn’t believe you!”

“It’s ok, mija, it’s ok,” her mamá soothed, petting her hair. “It’s not your fault. You were just a girl, you didn’t know any better.”

“Mamá,” Coco started, calming down.

“Si, mija.”

“Quiero aprender a hacer zapatos.”

Her mamá gasped and pulled away from the hug. Probably to get a good look at her. “De verdad?!” Coco nodded and her mamá pulled her back into a hug. “Ay, mi hija! Una Zapatera!” Her mamá broke the hug again and started covering her face in kisses. Her mamá seemed so happy that she almost felt guilty of what would happen soon.

Almost.