“About your falling into a gold mine. Maybe you just fell into a dark hole. I’ll call you,” she promised, and walked to her car.
I watched her get in, looked back at Señor Bovio, who was still standing at the pool looking our way, and then I hurried into the house to dress and meet my teacher.
Mrs. Newell was waiting for me at the top of the stairway. She seemed to pop out of nowhere.
“I’m happy you’ve come back inside. I see you went out without putting any sunblock on. We don’t want you getting a heat rash or sunburn.”
“I have lived in the sunlight all my life, Mrs. Newell. I know when I’m getting too much.”
“You haven’t been pregnant all your life, have you?” she shot back at me. Then she paused with a new thought. “Were you ever pregnant?”
“No, of course not.”
“It’s not a foolish question to ask. Girls even younger than you are often married and mothers back where you’re from, aren’t they?”
“I was not,” I said.
“Um. Next time, put on the sunblock. I left it on the dresser in your room. People don’t understand,” she said in a more thoughtful, calmer voice. “Young girls can be physically mature enough to conceive, but that doesn’t mean they have the basic intelligence necessary yet to take care of themselves and their children. Sex is easy; motherhood is not.” She smiled. “It’s why we have so many problems with young people today.”
“Do you have children, Mrs. Newell?”
“Why don’t you have children?” I was going to add, if you’re so smart about it.
“That’s not your business. We’re here to deal with you, not me.”
“Deal? I don’t want anyone dealing with me, Mrs. Newell. I’m not a deck of cards,” I told her, and went to my room.
Fani would have liked that, I thought, smiling to myself. I made a mental note to tell her. We’d have some good times laughing about it. Despite all she had said, I was happy she had come to see me and looked forward to the next time. I hoped she wouldn’t wait too long.
When I stepped into my room, I saw the schedule Mrs. Newell had prepared for me. She had left it on my pillow so I couldn’t miss it. It was quite detailed, with almost every moment of my day accounted for, right from when I awoke, had my breakfast, and then, according to her wishes, took my morning exercise, which she specified as only a ten-to-fifteen-minute walk. She had even outlined where I should walk.
After that, I was to go to the library to do my schoolwork until lunch. I would then return to the library, where, on Wednesdays, Mr. McCarthy would meet me at two P.M. to review what I had done and to see if I had any questions or problems. He would leave me the next week’s assignments.
Following that, Mrs. Newell would take my blood pressure and check to be sure my feet or hands weren’t swelling. I was always to tell her if I had any problems, but she would consider this to be her examination. Since the sun was lower, I could, if I wanted, go for a fifteen-minute swim. She dictated that I would then take a nap, to relax before dinner.
My time after dinner was my own, but I was to be in bed by ten P.M.
Every other day, I would be weighed in the morning before breakfast.
The doctor’s visits were clearly indicated on the calendar she had created. I did see that I was scheduled to be taken to his office for the ultrasound test and something called chorionic villus sampling. She didn’t explain it but told me to see the pamphlet she had left on my desk. Three weeks after these tests, I was to have an amniocentesis. I read in the pamphlet about each exam. She had underlined that chorionic villus sampling was generally done when the mother or father had a genetic disorder that ran in the family.
“Since medical records for poor rural Mexicans are nonexistent, this is important,” she had written in the margins.
My first reaction was pure anger, but then I thought it was not untrue, although I could not recall mi abuela Anabela or my mother ever mentioning such problems in either my father’s or her family. Since Señor Bovio was paying for all of this, how could I object?
My phone rang. My first reaction was hope and excitement. Perhaps it was Edward, but it turned out to be only the intercom.
“You are keeping your tutor waiting unnecessarily,” Mrs. Newell complained.
“I’ll be right there.”
I hung up, quickly took off my bathing suit, and dressed in a skirt and blouse. Still in sandals, however, I rushed out and down the stairway to go to the library.
Mr. McCarthy sat at the long, light-walnut desk with my books, workbooks, and other school materials spread before him. He was a stout man with thin, balding gray hair and a round face that looked swollen because his small dark-brown eyes were so sunken. His complexion was smooth, however, so smooth that he looked as if he never had to shave. He stretched his thin, pale lips into a smile that seemed to sink into his cheeks and disappear. He wore a brown-and-white-striped sport jacket with a coffee-colored bow tie that was so tightly tied it moved with his Adam’s apple when he spoke.
“Hello there,” he sa