Woman Hollering Creek

Free Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros

Book: Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sandra Cisneros
accomplice, committed premeditated crimes. I’m guilty of having caused deliberate pain to other women. I’m vindictive and cruel, and I’m capable of anything.
    I admit, there was a time when all I wanted was to belong to a man. To wear that gold band on my left hand and be worn on his arm like an expensive jewel brilliant in the light of day. Not the sneaking around I did in different bars that all looked the same, red carpets with a black grillwork design, flocked wallpaper, wooden wagon-wheel light fixtures with hurricane lampshades a sick amber color like the drinking glasses you get for free at gas stations.
    Dark bars, dark restaurants then. And if not—my apartment,with his toothbrush firmly planted in the toothbrush holder like a flag on the North Pole. The bed so big because he never stayed the whole night. Of course not.
    Borrowed. That’s how I’ve had my men. Just the cream skimmed off the top. Just the sweetest part of the fruit, without the bitter skin that daily living with a spouse can rend. They’ve come to me when they wanted the sweet meat then.
    So, no. I’ve never married and never will. Not because I couldn’t, but because I’m too romantic for marriage. Marriage has failed me, you could say. Not a man exists who hasn’t disappointed me, whom I could trust to love the way I’ve loved. It’s because I believe too much in marriage that I don’t. Better to not marry than live a lie.
    Mexican men, forget it. For a long time the men clearing off the tables or chopping meat behind the butcher counter or driving the bus I rode to school every day, those weren’t men. Not men I considered as potential lovers. Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Chilean, Colombian, Panamanian, Salvadorean, Bolivian, Honduran, Argentine, Dominican, Venezuelan, Guatemalan, Ecuadorean, Nicaraguan, Peruvian, Costa Rican, Paraguayan, Uruguayan, I don’t care. I never saw them. My mother did this to me.
    I guess she did it to spare me and Ximena the pain she went through. Having married a Mexican man at seventeen. Having had to put up with all the grief a Mexican family can put on a girl because she was from
el otro lado
, the other side, and my father had married down by marrying her. If he had married a white woman from
el otro lado
, that would’ve been different. That would’ve been marrying up, even if the white girl was poor. But what could be more ridiculous than a Mexican girl who couldn’t even speak Spanish, who didn’t know enough to set a separate plate for each course at dinner, nor how to fold cloth napkins, nor how to set the silverware.
    In my ma’s house the plates were always stacked in the centerof the table, the knives and forks and spoons standing in a jar, help yourself. All the dishes chipped or cracked and nothing matched. And no tablecloth, ever. And newspapers set on the table whenever my grandpa sliced watermelons, and how embarrassed she would be when her boyfriend, my father, would come over and there were newspapers all over the kitchen floor and table. And my grandpa, big hardworking Mexican man, saying Come, come and eat, and slicing a big wedge of those dark green watermelons, a big slice, he wasn’t stingy with food. Never, even during the Depression. Come, come and eat, to whoever came knocking on the back door. Hobos sitting at the dinner table and the children staring and staring. Because my grandfather always made sure they never went without. Flour and rice, by the barrel and by the sack. Potatoes. Big bags of pinto beans. And watermelons, bought three or four at a time, rolled under his bed and brought out when you least expected. My grandpa had survived three wars, one Mexican, two American, and he knew what living without meant. He knew.
    My father, on the other hand, did not. True, when he first came to this country he had worked shelling clams, washing dishes, planting hedges, sat on the back of the bus in Little Rock and had the bus driver shout, You—sit up here, and my

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