Whenever I speak, it feels like I'm whispering. My voice is raspy, coming out like I swallowed rusty nails. Nobody registers my voice.
I don't ask for much, just for someone to listen to what I have to say. I might have a lot to say, but they don't know. They can't seem to hear me.
My voice falls on deaf ears.
I say it again, louder.
The chatter increases.
Again. Loud. More strength behind it. More conviction.
They talk so loud my ears are going to pop.
I have a lot to say, but they won't listen. They won't hear me. Why aren't they listening?
I repeat and repeat and all I hear is the chaos of laughter, chattering girls, chattering guys.
It feels like I'm whispering in a room full of noise.
One day they'll listen.
One day I'll travel across the highest mountain that has ever existed, and I'll shout all my thoughts, hopes, dreams, wishes. I'll shout it so loud I won't even hear myself.
I don't want a fancy mansion. I don't want to look like a magazine cover model. I don't even want all the money in the world.
I just want to be heard.
I want to be listened.
I want the whispers to vanish into thin air.
Swaddled in Red, Drowned in Spit
I watch as the lawyer asks my father to take a seat on the stand beside the judge. My jaw aches from how hard I clench it, almost sneering in hatred and betrayal. My fingernails plunge deep into the skin of my palms as my knuckles pale. They wanted to know how many more victims he killed, if there were more, how he killed them exactly.
Every sound of the room is drowned out by the red I see when looking at the man. The jagged scar that run diagonally across his face is red, the tattoo on the side of his neck is red. It’s so red that it’s crimson.
The kind of dark crimson his victims blood were.
“Can you please describe how you ended Kamilah’s life, Mr. Delgado?” the lawyer asks.
My stomach rolls.
I can’t read how my father must be feeling as he shifts in his seat, sitting upright. It’s eerily blank, I guess. Guess I could say I’m not surprised. Reading my father’s facial expressions was like reading Shakespeare’s work; it was difficult to decrypt.
“She was lost on the street,” he begins, a muscle in his jaw twitching. “She was asking me for directions and I let her in the car. I drove for a little bit until we were at the woods, and then I threw her out the window.”
“Shit,” I whisper, my stomach sinking.
“I covered her mouth with duct tape when she tried screaming for help, and then I think I used a rope to tie her down.”
What scares me the most is that he says all of this with a blank face and an even tone. He looks too calm for a man convicted of over fifty murders and sexual assaults.
My eyes nearly bulge out of their sockets when he laughs. Laughs. The corner of his eyes crinkle and there’s deep creases on the sides of his mouth when he smiles, flashing his pearly whites.
“I took off her pants and fingered her for a while,” he snickers, and bile rises at the back of my throat when he pumps his index finger a little bit, as if he were demonstrating to a class.
"I used my other hand to wrap around her throat and squeezed until she fell asleep." She lost consciousness. "I pulled my finger out and used a knife to stab her stomach. And then I used some lemonade and salt to add a little extra sting."
I can't listen anymore.
Thank God I was in the back, otherwise people would have been suspicious when they saw me storming out in a rush, chest heaving and saliva gathering in my mouth.
I haven't thrown up like that in a long time.
Several Hours Later...
"How the hell could you do that?" I demand, glaring at my father through my tears. "How the hell could you just...Papi, you laughed while describing how you fingered a FIVE-YEAR-OLD before you killed her! Don't you have a soul?!"
"I've done this for a long time, princesa," he says simply, sighing through his nose. "In El Salvador I needed the money, so I couldn't afford the luxury of guilt. I needed to provide."
"What about raping them then, huh? You needed to pleasure yourself?"
He shrugs, as if it weren't a big deal to him. "What do you want me to say, Sofia? I can't change the way I am."
"You could change how to not rape young girls," I snap.
"Porque? It makes me happy."
My eyes blow wide, and I almost throw up again, but I swallow the chips I had earlier down and shoulder on. "You're sick," I whisper. "You're sick and you're a monster!"
"I raped those girls because I liked seeing them in pain," he bites, snarling at me now. The sudden change in his demeanor startles me so much I flinch violently. "I like watching them choke on their own spit and blood while I fuck them raw. Their screams have me hard and I like it. Is that what you want me to say?"
I tremble, my stomach churns and my throat aches with suppressed sobs. Those girls were my age. Did he even think about how he would feel if someone did that to me? How they would like raping me while killing me? Does this man even love me?
"Papi," I say, voice cracking, "what if someone had done that to me?"
His blank stares gives me the confirmation I need.
The Struggles of the Alcoholic’s Spawn
I tried chanting to myself to not let it consume me. I tried to suppress my anguish, my anger and my grief. I have to shut my eyes, as if I was slapped in the face, every time I hear the Latin themed music blaring from the other room. A room I no longer slept in.
I remember dreading sleeping in that room, once upon a time. Especially during those times. It was so loud I could feel it jumping with my stomach. I thought that one day my ears would bleed and I would pass out from the pain. Soon I had to sleep on the couch or with my dad when I couldn't stand the music, the crying and the smell.
God, I hated that smell.
My mother's a drunk, I'm sure. She always has been. But when I was little my innocent mind couldn't comprehend the extent of her early drinking. She usually bought an eighteen pack of Modelo from the convenience store and slunk into her bedroom. Behind the shut door was the depressed drunk in a lifeless marriage.
Once I almost cried because she drove to the store drunk, just for more beer.
For a fucking beer.
Don't you care, Mom? Don't you care that you're hurting your relationships with all of us? Do you not realize how your own husband and son now avoid you at all costs when you swing that door open and stumble into the living room? Don't you care that one day, if you decide to drive in that car intoxicated again you could potentially not only kill yourself in a crash, but another person. Another young girl's mother who she loves so dearly?
Don't you care about us anymore?
But of course you don't. All you care about is your precious booze and those who died long ago in your life. And I'm sorry you lost your mother and brother, I really am, but you can always find healthier ways to cope. To not let the grief consume you. I'm afraid that it already has.
But what do I know? After all I'm just an angsty teenager worrying myself to death about school, college, and how I'm going to be able to pay for college after senior year of high school. Right now I'm just a junior trying to find extracurricular activities. That's all I am, nothing more to you except your daughter. Why am I still worried? Why am I getting angrier and angrier every time I hear your slurred speech from the living room? Why am I finding it so difficult to gather every ounce of my being just to keep up a pleasant conversation with you, if it even is that.
Why, why, why?
The Enchantment World of Rubies, Butterscotch and Cauldrons
The last I remembered was the feeling of flames taking control of my whole body. It was hotter than a furnace and it was so painful I couldn't scream my agony. It was louder than how I screamed and shouted at my Mamá earlier this morning.
I lie on the cold tiled floor of my bedroom, lifting my head with a soft groan. My bones ache and my spine felt sore. My hands in particular burn. It wasn't as horrible as it had been before, but it was enough to be uncomfortable.
Flattening the palms of my hands onto the floor, I force myself upright, swallowing when my stomach flip-flops. Jesus, what the hell happened?
My head starts to throb, my ears pounding, and I raise my hand to rub my stinging eyes.
"AH!" I shout, losing gravity when I suddenly fly backwards and all of me slams into the wall. I hear the concrete cave slightly under my weight, and my whole body aches with intense pain.
"Fuck," I hiss when I feel the back of my head, wet with, judging by the dark crimson liquid on my fingers, blood. I wrinkle my nose when the scent of metal hits my nose. I turn and wince when I see the damage I did to my bedroom wall. Spider-web cracks mar the plain pink paint, and I saw the faint silvery wisps of smoke.
I narrow my eyes, squinting hard when I see...