Fiestas

A disparate collection of nobodies—a woman old before her time, another too beautiful, an orphaned baby, a child whore, a blind man, a doctor with a killing secret—come together in 1930s Spain, their intersected stories the micro-history of a country struggling through civil war and dictatorship.

The epilogue of this novel was published in 2001 in Faultline, the literary magazine of the University of California at Irvine, and is included in Fiestas. The novel is fiction, but its characters and storyline were suggested by family anecdotes.

Fiestas and Other Funerals …The all-clear siren bellowed out its long moan, and people began to leave the Metro. Sra. Rosa’s ears were still ringing, but she went upstairs with the others, everyone talking at once now, chattering, angry, disgusted, swearing, we-have-had-it-yes-we-have-the-shameless-sons-of-whores. Sra. Rosa’s ears popped in exasperation halfway up the stairs, but she still didn’t hear very well for a few days after that.

Two buildings in the Plaza had been cut in half like loaves of bread. Walls surrounding rooms had been ripped away and the private interiors split open to the world. Roofs had shattered into salons, walls had cracked away from bedrooms. There was a huge pile of rubble to one side of where Sra. Rosa stood, and near it, she saw the neighbor boy who lived across the patio from Emilia. He was holding the hand of his big brother. The big brother lay on the ground, his mouth open to receive one last benediction from the sky, and half the top of his head gone missing in a mash of black hair and blood. Sra. Rosa stared at them for a moment, trying to fit this picture into her mind in such a way that it made some sense. A neighbor woman rushed over, forcibly disengaged the little boy’s hand from his brother’s, and shouted for help. Sra. Rosa felt something cold and hideous rise inside her, and she turned and ran down her street to home.

The building just up the street nearest the plaza from Sra. Rosa’s was over 300 years old and often people said it should be torn down because the rooms were so small, ugly, drafty, and uncomfortable. Had Sra. Rosa felt at all ironic that morning, she might have appreciated the fact that it stood without a chip knocked off it. She didn’t notice that building, however, because she was staring at her own building, which had received a direct hit and was gashed in half, a mess of white mortar, yellow stone, beams sticking up like bones.