Excerpt from La Quinceañera, latest book from Carmen Baca
La Corona (The Crown)
“I love it!” Conchita cried when she placed la corona on her head. “I feel like royalty. Someday, Marguerite, someday, I’ll wear a real one with genuine diamonds, and everyone will wait on me hand and foot,” she added, turning from the mirror to hug her prima Marguerite on the day before she joined the convent. She secretly wanted to jump for joy. She had coveted that crown the entire night her cousin had worn it. She loved Marguerite genuinely, and she would never have asked for the prized jewels herself, but she was ecstatic when her cousin decided to give it to her.
“You know what they say,” Marguerite replied, quiet and serious in her demeanor. “Be careful what you wish for. You might just get your heart’s desire, but it will come with a price. If you don’t believe that, think of me and what my vanity brought. It will serve as a reminder to keep you humble.”
“Oh, Marguerite,” Conchita cried. “Don’t think like that, you—”
Marguerite shushed her prima, adding, “Hey, let’s not part arguing. If I know you, you’ll make your wish come true and wear a crown of real jewels one day if that’s what you want. And you’ll get it through pure determination.”
After her cousin left, Conchita turned to the mirror to admire her new possession. The jewels were fake, of course, but that didn’t matter. The paste diamonds still shone as brightly as any real ones, especially in the light. The tiara was small enough that it didn’t look pretentious but beautiful enough that she could wear it to dances and other events as an accessory without feeling self-conscious. Too bad she couldn’t wear it to work, she thought. It would make what she did more enjoyable at least.
Employed by a wealthy businessman’s wife as housekeeper, Conchita was forced to wear a uniform which included a cap on her head. At work, she kept her hair in a neat bun at the nape of her neck. But she hated having to confine her waist-long wavy brown hair which was her pride and joy, and she wore it down when she wasn’t at work.
She could tell her boss, la Señora Benson, was envious of her hair and of her young, lithe body. Hell, the woman coveted her youth, period, Conchita thought. She was twenty-one, just beginning to live, saving every penny she didn’t spend on clothes so she could move to the big city when she turned twenty-five. That was her plan, anyway. Either Albuquerque or Denver, maybe even El Paso, she didn’t know yet. All she knew was she had to get out of the small town of Pajarillo, or she’d die an old maid here, alone and stifled. She spent her weekend evenings out with Sally and Patricia and the rest of the gang. She used to go out with Marguerite and Viola, but the first was already committed to the cloister and the latter was so smitten with her new boyfriend, Allen, she rarely went out with them unless he came, too. Though Conchita was in no hurry to become involved, she would’ve liked to have more variety of male companions and escorts to go out with on real dates.
The problem with Conchita was her taste, which ran to men who could eventually become husband material. Her choices were limited in the places she frequented. The guys at the area’s night spots were either laborers or college students. She had no desire to become involved with a laborer; she wanted a man who would keep her in the riches and luxury she didn’t have. The college boys were no better, still sowing their oats and wanting female companions for partying and a good time, not potential sweethearts and wives. So even though she went out on weekends with the gang, it was more for the purpose of having a great time with her buddies and to show off her beautiful hair and clothes. She knew she wouldn’t find a man until she moved away. # “Un peso por tus pensamientos,” Diego almost shouted, tapping her temple twice with his forefinger. The music at El Cantinero was so loud they could barely hear each other speak though they were seated across the dance floor from the band.
“Ha,” Enrique scoffed. “You don’t have a dollar to your name, fool. How are you going pay her for her thoughts?”
“I do too have a dollar, more than a dollar. Today was payday at the ice plant.”
“Oh, good, you can pay for the next round then,” Enrique proposed, motioning to the waitress from the booth where the three sat.
“I’m thinking that if I didn’t come out on the weekends with the two of you and the others sometimes, I’d have no fun in my life at all.”
“That’s true,ˮ Enrique laughed. “Sad, but true.”
She punched him and Diego did the same on the other side. “I can’t wait until I move away from here, you know? I feel like I’m just existing from day to day, not living. I want to live!”
“Well, come on then! Let us live!” Enrique pulled her out and up onto the dance floor and swung her every which way to the beat of the salsa number until she was dizzy. She ended up accepting dance offers from a number of young men after that, and the night turned into a fun one once Conchita quit allowing herself to think depressing thoughts.
She chastised herself for her selfishness and remembered the fun-loving Gloria. Life was too short to spend on “what if” or “I wish” thinking. She crossed herself and blessed Gloria, and that night she made a pact with herself to think only positive thoughts, even at work. She began to imagine that the three story house was her own, and she began to take pride in each task. She couldn’t wait to have a home like her employer’s for herself, but she could use it as practice for how she would keep her own sparkling and clean and make her future husband proud.
Living in a five room casita on the wrong side of the tracks with her parents, Rubel and Josie Paiz, and her four siblings, Conchita was tired of her older sister’s and her friends’ hand-me-downs and tired, too, of scrounging for everything. Making seventy-five cents an hour and giving almost half of her earnings weekly to her mother for groceries, Conchita knew moving out wasn’t in her immediate future. But as long as she kept up her positivity, she also knew the opportunity would be hers for the taking before too long.
“Don’t forget to scrub the oven today, Conchita,” Mrs. Benson started with the list of what she wanted done while she was out at her morning charity meeting, luncheon with the library association, and afternoon tennis lesson and cocktails at the club afterward. Between washing the downstairs windows inside and out, polishing the silver, and about seven other chores the woman had already gone over with her, Conchita knew she wouldn’t have a moment to spare, earning her daily pay with chafed hands and sore muscles. Tomorrow she’d have another lengthy list to complete, and the day after that, and… She stopped herself and entered her world of pretend where everything in the house belonged to her and she took pride in keeping it spotless.
Before, she had felt like a Hispanic Cenicienta, the Cinderella from the fairy tale. But for her there was no fairy godmother to take her away from it all. She had only herself to rely on to make enough dinero and get the heck out of town as soon as she was able. So she cleaned and kept up her daydreams, the hours passed, and before Conchita knew it, the lady of the house returned and brought reality with her.
She went over every inch of what Conchita had done. The windows were spotless, the silverware gleamed, the linens and carpets smelled fresh and new—every detail of every job she performed that day she did to the best of her ability. Mrs. Benson took note as she usually did and nodded her approval as she handed over her payment for the day.
The singular concession the woman made to Conchita when she hired her was that she pay cash at the end of the day; Conchita had insisted just in case the día came when she had enough. When she had first taken the job, she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to contain herself with her servile employment or her employer. She expected the occasion would arise when she would tell the woman to stuff her hoity toity attitude up her very long narizota since she held it up in the air so high. Conchita was five, two, but the older middle-aged woman was five, seven, so when Conchita had to stand before her for her instructions or for her wages, the dark, elongated nostrils were about the only thing she saw from her vantage point. But the woman wasn’t that bad, after all. Yes, she considered herself above Conchita and people she considered servants, but she was fair and kind. And she always paid what she promised.
For the next few months after Marguerite had given Conchita the crown, she wore it the moment she got home and visualized a future where she would have a real one and be waited on by others. One morning as she got ready, she put her tiara on as she did her make-up and talked herself into wearing it at work. She tucked it into her purse and caught a ride with her father to the rich part of town where her employer lived. After Mrs. Benson left for the day, Conchita donned her crown and set off to do the laundry.
She remembered the first time her employer had taken her to the mudroom and shown her the bright, white washer. Conchita had never used one before and studied the knobs on top and looked inside with both awe and confusion. Mrs. Benson explained how to use it, and now Conchita looked forward to laundry days since all she had to do was hang the clothes outside in the back yard when the machine had finished the heavy work. She had told her mamá about the wondrous machine, and Josie began saving two dollars a week to get one of her own. The wringer washer on the back porch lost its reputation as a modern convenience the day she heard about the new appliance at the casa of la ricacha, the rich one.
Conchita was scrubbing the downstairs wood floors when the back door opened and her employer walked in. “Hi, there, Conchita. The city council meeting ended early, and I didn’t have any plans, so I thought I’d…”
Conchita had sat back on her haunches and looked up at the woman in surprise. Too late, she realized she was wearing the crown. She yanked it off and tried to hide it beneath her hands and felt her face reddening with embarrassment.
“May I see it?”
Conchita handed it over without saying anything. What could she say? I’m over twenty but I still play pretend? Working for you makes me feel like Cinderella? She waited with her eyes focused on the hangnail she was trying to yank off. Knowing the soapy water would sting when she continued her scrubbing, she figured it was a small penance she deserved for trying to be something she was not.
Mrs. Benson handed the tiara back. “It’s lovely, I remember I had one similar when I was about your age.”
Yeah, but yours was probably real, Conchita thought but said nothing.
“I remember I was so happy when my mother presented it to me,” the woman added. “But I found out a few days later it was fake when she yanked it from my head and threw it out my upstairs bedroom window. I saved the shattered pieces in my jewelry box for years to remind myself of…of certain things,” she finished with a small smile. “Go ahead, put it back on. Lord knows it looks so much lovelier on you than mine ever did on me. I’m going up to my room. Would you let me know when you’ve finished the floors?”
She left and Conchita tried to tuck the tiara into the pocket of her apron, but it didnʼt fit. She ended up putting the thing back on for expediency and continued her work, wondering why the beautiful, rich Mrs. Benson had said her own tiara hadn’t looked good on her. She began to think there was something more about her employer she didn’t know, something which made her sad sometimes even with all she had.
Conchita knocked on Mrs. Benson’s door when she had finished for the day. The woman answered and went downstairs to check on Conchita’s work, approving everything before pulling the dollar bills from her slacks pocket and bidding her good afternoon.
The following morning when Conchita arrived, Mrs. Benson told her she had something she needed help with in the attic. She led the way and pointed to a corner. “There are many outfits in these three trunks over here,” she continued, “designer clothes, all the accessories—hats, gloves, shoes, and even jewelry, I believe. I will not kid myself any longer. I will never be a petite again, and I refuse to allow such beautiful garments to mold away when someone could be enjoying them. I want you to go through each one and take whatever you want from these trunks. Perhaps you’ll find some for your mother and sister, too.”
For a moment—just a tiny second of a moment—Conchita felt a twinge of anger. She had never accepted charity (her friends’ contributions to her wardrobe didn’t count) and didn’t know how to feel about the rich woman’s proposition. But she looked into la señora’s eyes and saw a sincerity there. “I was so vain in my youth, Conchita,” she admitted. “I thought I would be young forever and my good looks would also last forever. Do you know that’s the reason I never had children? I never wanted to lose my tiny waistline, isn’t that just stupid?”
Conchita saw tears forming in the woman’s eyes, and she sprang to action on impulse. She went to the closest trunk and pulled out a lovely silk scarf and a handbag of the same shade of lavender. “There are many things in here you can still use or wear, Señora.” And she brazenly but gently wrapped the scarf around the woman’s neck. “See?” This sets off your complexion beautifully. We should see what there is you can still wear before I take anything. If you’re anything like me, I know what’s in these trunks were probably some of your favorites.”
There was a hint of wistfulness in Mrs. Benson’s expression, and so Conchita pulled up a stool, wiped the dust from it, and settled the woman down. Pulling out one garment after another, she struck up outlandish poses and crossed her eyes or stuck her tongue out the side of her mouth. Conchita had Mrs. Benson laughing so hard a few times she almost fell from the small stool. Conchita found a bureau mirror against one wall and pulled it forward so they could see themselves as they donned more outfits over their clothes.
“Look at this lace wrap, Mrs. B,” Conchita gushed over the shiny gossamer material that glowed in golden shades. She placed it on her employer’s shoulders and turned her to the mirror. “It’s perfect on you.”
“I think you’re right, Conchita,” the woman smiled at her in the mirror. “Mrs. B, huh?” “Oh, forgive me for being forward…”
“No, don’t apologize, I rather like it.” She adjusted the wrap and turned left and right as she kept talking. “No one has ever had a nickname for me—ever, not even as a child. My mother always called me Elizabeth, never Liz, never Beth or Betty or Betsy, always Elizabeth, so formal. And when she was angry, which was often, she called me Elizabeth Monique Davinia Jones, as if I needed to be reminded who I was. The woman had no love for me, I don’t think.”
Conchita turned introspective. She thought of her relationship with her own mother. By the time Conchita was born, her mother had been in her thirties. They had more of a formal relationship than one of friend or confidant though there was love between them, and her mother didn’t treat her coldly as Mrs. B’s had seemed to. However, there were just some things she could never talk about with her mother.
Take her menstrual cycle. Her mother had tried to talk to her about it before the event came, but she stumbled over words and faltered in details so much she called Conchita’s older sister, Lourdes, to explain. So, on the night when Auntie Flo came visiting, Lourdes was the one who told their father to run to the store and bring home some feminine napkins.
“¡Qué ’stas pendeja o qué, napkins a la fregada!” Señor Paiz had protested. His grumbling over Lourdes being stupid enough to think he would go and buy such a product made her laugh all the way to the bathroom where she’d left Conchita stranded. Their mamá had to accompany him, never mind that she left the ropa in the washer waiting for the wringer just to be the one to buy the feminine products her father wouldn’t. When Conchita got her first French kiss and panicked it would make her pregnant, Lourdes was again the one she ran to, confessing tearfully and fearing her parents would throw her out of the house. Lourdes had laughed even louder and longer about that and educated Conchita about the truth of male-female relationships.
On a hunch, she told Mrs. B about these memories, and they shared a good laugh and shared even more. A camaraderie was created between the two that day, one which saved Conchita’s life in the years to come. The two women spent the entire morning up in that attic, trying on each garment they pulled from the three trunks and separating them into piles while they shared more cuentos from their pasts.
“Oh my heavens,” Mrs. Benson cried when the clock downstairs announced that it was noon. “We’ve spent the entire morning up here, girl! What say we go make some sandwiches. You can use that luggage over there by the back wall to pack the clothes you liked, and I’ll give you a ride home. We shall declare today a personal holiday. Tomorrow is soon enough for you to do what I wanted done today.”
And so they did. Conchita felt like royalty indeed in the woman’s shiny, new sedan. Again, a twinge of shame hit her in the chest when they passed the main street and entered the poor side of town. But when she pointed out her modest house to the wealthy woman, she raised her head defiantly and realized that indeed she was proud of their little adobe casita. Her father had repaired the plaster and made them paint it each year, and he taught her brothers to fix the picket fence. Her mother guided them all in planting fresh flowers each spring. The windows gleamed, and the entire façade presented comfort. Theirs might not be a mansion, but it was a home, one which they all worked toward presenting a welcoming exterior so people would see there was love on the inside.
“Would you like to come in?” Conchita asked. “Meet my mother?”
Mrs. Benson looked at the house for a long minute, taking in every detail, Conchita was certain. But she wasn’t sure what the woman thought or whether she’d accept her invitation.
“Of course,” the tall, refined señora replied with a smile. “I’d love to meet your mother.”
They pulled two large valises from the trunk and struggled to carry them through the little gate. By the time Conchita opened the front door, they were laughing at their awkwardness in carrying such heavy luggage and banging their shins with each step they took.
They found Conchita’s mother Josie in the living room where she had been ironing in front of the TV tuned to a daytime soap opera she had become addicted to. The look of horror she gave her daughter showed Conchita her mother was mortified. To have been discovered doing a household chore in the living room was bad enough, but to be caught with her braid falling down with her exertion and to be seen sweating in an old housedress was sacrilege.
Too late, Conchita realized she should have called ahead. Rather than watch her mother suffer, she plunged on in with both feet. She was already going to be told off anyway, might as well go full hog. “Mom, this is my employer, Mrs. Benson. Mrs. B, this is my mother, Josie Paiz. I am so sorry I didn’t warn my mother we were coming. The woman cleans twenty-four hours a day. The house can be spotless, but she always finds something to do.” She knew she was scrambling to say something, anything to make her mother feel at ease and vice versa.
For a moment the two women looked at one another in awkward silence. But then Josie spoke up after wiping her brow on her apron and wiping her hands as well. “Welcome to our home, Señora,” she said, putting her hand out to shake Mrs. Benson’s. With seriousness, she added, “I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to watch TV or do the ironing, so I chose to do both to save time. I’m glad you didn’t stop by yesterday when I was doing the dishes on the coffee table.”
The moment of silence passed when the two women burst into laughter at the same time, and Conchita sighed in satisfaction. She should’ve known her mother would save her own day. No longer embarrassed, she motioned for Mrs. Benson to take a seat on the sofa and bade Conchita to go bring them some glasses of tea. By the time she got back, Mrs. Benson had opened the suitcases, and the two women were pulling out all the dresses so Josie could put them up to her chest to “try them on.” She oohed and aahed over the jewelry and then kicked off her house shoes to try on a pair of red dressy heels, posing her legs one way and then the other while the señora whistled her approval.
By the time Mrs. Benson left, Josie had agreed to accompany her to her charity luncheon the following day so she could introduce her to her closest friends. “Wear that blue dress, Josie,” she pointed at the frock lying on the arm of the couch. “That will look so great with your black hair. I’ll pick you up at eleven. Conchita, come walk me to my car.” When they reached the sidewalk, the woman turned and caught Conchita up in a hug so abruptly she almost didn’t hug back. “Wear your crown proudly, my young friend,” she whispered into Conchita’s hair. “In fact, I insist you wear it at work every day to remind yourself what a priceless gift you are to me.” She stepped back, gave Conchita’s arms a last squeeze, climbed into her car and left.
Closing her mouth when a fly hit her cheek head on caused Conchita to register the words that had left her employer's mouth and into her ears…“wear your crown proudly…a priceless gift you are...” She brushed away the tears with the heels of her hands and went back to the house. Her mother stood over the mess of clothing and accessories everywhere as though a whirlwind had just come into the living room and thrown beautiful garments willy-nilly and left without damaging a thing. Conchita waited for the telling off that never came.
“She’s something else, your boss.”
“Yes, she is.”
“I thought I was going to die of embarrassment when she walked in, but she’s alright. Down to earth, that one.”
“I didn’t see that side of her till today.” And so Conchita proceeded to tell her mother how Mrs. B and she had spent the morning as they grabbed hangers for the dresses and gathered everything else to find places to put it all.
The next day Josie and her new friend attended the charity luncheon, and Conchita went back to work, but instead of being dissatisfied with her lot, she felt a new pride in her duties. She caught a glimpse of herself in her crown in the hall mirror and laughed out loud with a new happiness, a new self-satisfaction she’d never felt before. She embraced a new desire to do her best for the woman who had given her a job when she could find no other, the woman who had befriended her mother moments after they met.
The months flew since the relationship between the wealthy señora and Conchita had changed. The woman even began calling Conchita the daughter she never had, the sister she always dreamed of, the confidant she wanted for so much of her lonely life. Conchita, her mother, and Mrs. B even began shopping together so each could try on outfits, make up, and all the accessories their new clothes needed to get the others’ opinions on the spot. Life was good, and the three were happy with their newfound friendship.
For the first time in her adult life, Conchita was content with what she had even though she still wanted better for her future. From time to time as she worked, she thought of Marguerite and all that she gave up to become a nun. Invariably, Nicola and Gloria came into her thoughts, too, and Conchita offered a prayer for her primita and her friend and reminded herself what had happened to them. This never failed to keep her humble and thankful for the life she did have. This was what she was thinking of that afternoon when she was walking from the rich side of town to the poor, a forty-five minute walk through the heat of summer and the cold of winter and every type of weather that came with the seasons.
She had forgotten to take off her tiara and strolled content and happy with the day’s work and with her new relationship with her employer and her mother. It was still warm on this spring afternoon, the sun beginning to go down. It was that hour of the day when anyone driving toward the sunlight was blinded if they didn’t raise an arm or lower a visor to shade their eyes. So when the noise came up behind her, she was knocked forward so violently she had no idea what hit her. She felt pain so severe that after a moment her body numbed with the intensity. The last thing she saw was her shiny tiara flying in front of her and rolling like a wheel down the side of the street. It disappeared into a storm drain, and that was all she remembered until she awoke in the hospital weeks afterward.
The hit-and-run driver still had not been identified, much less apprehended, by the time Conchita came to and was told what had happened to her. Considering it had happened on a main residential avenue with at least twelve side streets branching off of it, no one had seen a thing. The loud commotion sent people to their windows and screen doors, and several had reported seeing a dark vehicle speeding off on one of the side streets. But no one caught any clear details, not a description of the driver and not a single number off the license plate, nada.
Another few weeks and more sad news greeted her when she awoke from a mid-morning nap. The doctors didn’t think she would ever walk again. The tears shed by family, friends, and even Mrs. Benson could have washed the entire town of Pajarillo clean, they fell for so long and so hard from the eyes of everyone who loved her. But they were nothing compared to the crying she did for herself in the state of self-pity into which she plunged after that last announcement. There would be no moving away for her, no attracting any future husband, no large house or beautiful clothes, no social occasions or children later in her life—the life she had come to live gratefully was over. Replaced by a crude and unwelcome wheelchair, the indignities of being handicapped, the pitying looks from strangers—that was the life she now had to look forward to.
She was released from the hospital and welcomed by the entire neighborhood when she arrived home. Her father and brothers had made ramps to accommodate her, and her mother and sister were prepared to take care of her for the rest of her life. Once her oldest brother positioned her chair in the living room, her mother presented her with a new tiara, this one more elaborate and more bejeweled than the last. For her part, Conchita tried to be cheerful when she was with others, sinking into the depths of her despair when she was alone. Everyone was careful not to leave her to herself for long, but the late hours of the night and the early ones in the mornings drained her of life little by little as she focused on the bleak future ahead. She lost her appetite, lost her will to fight with her family and friends when they tried either sympathy or anger to get her out of her doldrums, lost her love of life. They feared she wouldn’t last much longer, and no one could figure out how to change what they knew would come true. Señora Benson came to the rescue shortly after Conchita’s family tried and failed to get her to want to continue. After an evening of consultation with her parents, the señora came for Conchita the next morning in her car, accompanied by a driver this time. Her mother and sister had bathed Conchita, styled her hair, applied her make-up, and practically forced her into a presentable dress before sitting her back into her chair and then placing her new crown on her head. Conchita gazed at her reflection in the mirror and smiled faintly. Like the corona of the Virgin Mother, she thought, that’s what it looks like. She prayed a “Hail Mary” for the Mother to take her to eternal sleep soon. She prayed to Gloria, too, asking if she had any influence in heaven to use it, please. She did not want to go on anymore, not without a future to look forward to.
When the señora arrived, she said she had a surprise, and she wouldn’t take no for an answer, but they were going for a ride. When the sedan left the town behind, the sound of the tires on the pavement lulled Conchita into a deep sleep, and she remained asleep for the almost three hours it took to get to their destination.
She awoke when the vehicle began slowing and looked up to see a small airplane right in front of them. “Good morning, sleepyhead,” Mrs. B smiled. “Let’s go for a ride, hmmm?”
“Would I be so cruel?”
Conchita knew the answer and did what she could to assist the driver in putting her into her wheelchair. Then he drove it up the ramp, unloaded her gently, and then fastened her into a seat in the aircraft. The plane taxied and took off with Conchita clutching the arms of the seat but with her nose pasted to the small round window. She watched as the earth receded beneath and behind her, the houses and cars getting smaller, the people turning into the size of insects from her vantage point, until moments later they were in the sky with clouds beneath them.
Oh, the ironies of life, Conchita thought. She had envisioned marrying a wealthy man who would fly her to exotic places, yet here she was, flying to…to…
“Where are we going?” she blurted to her companion.
Mrs. B laughed. “I was waiting for your curiosity to be too much for you.” And she talked for the next half hour, filling Conchita in about her plans for her future, with or without her consent. “So you see, sweetheart, everything’s been taken care of. All you have to do is will yourself to make this work. You and your powerful crown will make you a queen after all, mark my words.” A year later… The tiara Conchita wore on her wedding day glittered in the candle lights of the cathedral in Santa Fe where her fiancé had brought her back to make her his bride. Dr. Richard Stewart had been her doctor for the year since her benefactor, Mrs. Benson, had taken her on her first flight. He was her nephew, a specialist in spinal injuries. He had taken Conchita as his patient at his very own clinic in New York City, vowing to do everything he could to make her see that she could still have a quality-filled life even from a wheelchair. The physical therapy combined with medication, psychiatric support and life skills instruction. They worked in tandem until Conchita accepted her condition and learned to live with it. Dr. Richard didn't intend to fall in love with the tiara-wearing beauty, and Conchita never in her wildest dreams saw herself as a bride to the man who had saved her from herself. Indeed, she had to travel across the country to find her Prince Charming. And so here they were, him standing at the altar beaming with pride. And her, holding her bouquet, being guided to meet him by her father on one side and her mother on the other. He smiled and everyone assembled could see the love in his eyes he never took off her as she came closer. And Conchita, with her own eyes locked on his, lifted her head proudly, her crown catching the light and sparkling with all the colors of a prism. Her dream had come true. She felt like royalty and she would be waited on just as she would wait upon the man who had captured her heart.
Carmen Bacataught a variety of English and history courses, mostly at the high school and college levels in northern New Mexico where she lives, over the course of 36 years before retiring in 2014. She published her first novel in May 2017, El Hermano, a historical fiction based on herfather’s induction into the Penitente society and rise to El Hermano Mayor. The book is available from online booksellers. She has also published eight short pieces in online literary magazines and women’s blogs.