Rebeca Ladron de Guevara
We’ll call it el verano de la chingada when the adverbs begin. Not the “queer and sultry summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs.” Not the record-breaking hot summer they lured the neighborhood geese into a van and gassed them. It wasn’t the blur of a summer when you, me and the friends we used to have drank more Jager than an army of German soldiers. This was the year that on summer solstice I got a call in the middle of the night telling me my nineteen year-old cousin had just died in a car crash while drunk. It was the summer that I accidentally let our dog out and we ran after her only to watch her get hit by a car and jerk three times before she died. It was the summer I realized I can’t scream as loud as I thought I could. It was the summer that after eight years, I asked you to move out because I could no longer house you and the secrets I know weigh you down making you heavy and earthbound. It was the summer that for the first time ever, I had secrets of my own.
It was the summer of secrets. I had always wanted to have a secret. Just one. I had wanted it like most women want a child. I wanted no child, just a secret or two.
After my cousin was laid to rest, the common mourning ended in a flash and blame was passed around. I watched our grandmother blame my cousin’s father and mother for not being watchful of how he’d gone astray and had been drinking in excess. I watched his mother and father blame his brother for not being there for him as he’d gotten carried away by alcohol. And as the blame was passed around I stayed quiet; it was me who had given him his first beer at seven.
The day I let the dog out, I was slow, slow enough to keep the dog from slipping through my legs.
But I’ll always wonder if I wheeled her death, subconsciously, because by then I had already discovered one of your many secrets.
Remember that one day we were at my best friend’s birthday party and you were sharing your pictures with a cute girl there?
You got carried away telling her about your travels so you set your phone down. I picked it up to make sure you wouldn’t forget it. But I kept scrolling through your pictures and there it was: You sucking another man’s cock. I put the phone down and went out for a cigarette to think about what I’d just seen.
So that summer when I asked you to move out. You rationalized it as me not being able to deal with loss because you never knew I saw that picture. But it wasn’t loss, and it wasn’t you with another man which made me ask you to move out.
When I saw that picture of you with another man, I felt nothing. Nothing at all. Let us pretend this was the summer I couldn’t deal with the loss of my cousin, my dog, my subpar screams, or your secrets.
It was the summer the best kept secrets were the ones you kept from yourself.
Rebeca Ladron de Guevara lives in a tiny, scary house in Fullerton, California with her pit bull Auster.
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