Written with my Thursday night group with the prompts: Therese is gone, those people, toe the line, flourish, she could see the person she was, her mother didn’t like her, so what’s another inch, ketchup soup, sit in meditation
Now that Therese was gone, Maricela could see more clearly the person that she was. Rumor had it, her own mother didn’t much like Therese, but Maricela didn’t believe that for a minute.
Maricela knew Therese’s Mom; they went to school together. Her name was Liliana, and she told Maricela she wanted to name her baby Florita—Little Flower. Her husband vetoed that idea. They settled on Therese, and Liliana felt she had secretly won—for didn’t our Lord, Jesus Christ call Saint Therese of Lisieux the Little Flower? Indeed he did. And so her mother could quietly call her Florita after all.
The irony is that Therese was no one’s idea of little. She was always a big girl, bigger than anyone else in her class, boy or girl. She was five feet tall in 3rd grade, taller than all the nuns by the time she was eleven. There she’d be in a school room full of youngsters, and a visitor might enter and come to her, thinking this child was the grown-up in charge. The tiny nuns agreed they needed to lower the boom on her, just to get her to toe the line.
Maricela, who cooked in the school cafeteria, felt differently. She could tell the teachers were scared a girl so big would challenge their authority. One day Sister Mary Bethany Ann came to Maricela and insisted that she needed to cut back on Therese’s rations. No thick sauces and gravies for her! No, give her ketchup soup! That was the answer. That would suffice. That would well suppress this monstrous growth.
Maricela nodded politely with a congenial smile. “Of course, Sister.” But Maricela was bold and defiant when no one was looking. “What’s another inch?” She thought as she filled Therese’s plate with extra potatoes and sausage. She was proud of the girl. She wanted her to flourish.
The day Therese left, Maricela was in the kitchen frosting cinnamon rolls, before the first bell rang for the Angelus. She was glancing out the window when she saw the tall girl come running across the yard toward the street. Maricela had the sight and she knew where Therese was headed. She stepped outside and tried to flag her down, but Therese just kept running. She was 16 years old then, six foot five, with long legs, long hair, long earlobes and a long thin nose. She was a rather plain girl but beautifully graceful, sweeping down the sidewalk toward the river levee. Maricela wished she could have given her food or a jacket, a new pair of shoes or a pretty barrette for her hair. She didn’t know why, perhaps it was a selfish impulse, a desire that the girl remember her. She knew Therese would morph into something new, maybe a large deer or coyote, perhaps a valkyrie or an angel. Possibly she would maintain this form, become a healer or an artist. Maricela hoped so. Because Therese, she thought, had the ballast for it. She could, if she chose, take up space in the world and allow her essence to spread.
And so the cook left half the cinnamon rolls unfrosted, and sat down on a stool to meditate.
Photo by Nick Castelli on Unsplash