“Do you have a baby?”
sp; “I do and I don’t,” I said.
He snapped his head back. “What’s that mean?”
“My baby’s grandfather made me sign a paper to give him custody.”
“You gave away your baby?”
“You don’t understand, Ignacio. I have nothing. Mi tía Isabela hates me and won’t help me. Mi primo Edward has run away from college and has not been able to help me. He has his own problems. I have no one, no money, and—”
“Why didn’t you just return to Mexico?”
“Listen, listen,” I pleaded, leaning over the table.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the security guard study me closer, so I backed away a little.
“I’m going to have a lot of money. Señor Bovio has promised to help get you out of here soon. Maybe—”
“Maybe what, Delia? You have a different life now. You’re a true norteamericana.”
“You will live in a grand hacienda, have rich friends and soon a new man. When I get out of here, where am I going? Back to ten dollars an hour, maybe. I’m not going to let you fill me with new promises, Delia. I am stuck here. These promises are like pins in my heart now. I don’t want to believe in anything or anyone anymore.
“A man almost killed me here yesterday. You know what the fight was over? It was over a CD he said I stole. Life is not very valuable here. People kill each other for the simplest reasons. I’m just trying to survive. I don’t want to hear about money and futures.
“You look very good, prosperous,” he added bitterly. “You have a patrón, no? It was probably very smart of you to get pregnant.”
“I did not plan this, Ignacio. Please don’t think such a thing of me. Things just happened. You don’t know what my life was like when I returned from Mexico. Tía Isabela—”
“I don’t want to hear how hard your life was, Delia. Look at where I am.”
I nodded, the tears now flooding my eyes so thickly that looking at him was like looking through gauze. My face softened him a bit.
“Why did you come here? What is it you want from me, Delia? Forgiveness? A blessing? You don’t need any of that. At least, you don’t need it from me.”
“I do,” I said.
“That’s too bad, then. I’m all out of forgiveness. They drum it out of you here,” he said. “Sometimes I feel as if I no longer have skin. I have a hard crust. I have to be like a lizard, especially when my mother comes here and cries the whole time, and my father just sits and stares like a man who has been robbed of his soul.”
“I’m so sorry, Ignacio.” I wiped a fugitive tear away quickly.
“You used to worry so much about the ojo malvado. Well, in here, no one worries about the evil eye. It’s satisfied enough. Look,” he said, sounding more like the Ignacio I had once known. “I’m not important anymore in your life. We have different borders now to cross, Delia. You’re in a different world. You can’t return to mine, and you shouldn’t, anyway. Just forget me, and I’ll forget you. Think of our lives before as if it was all a dream and nothing more.”
“I don’t want to do that, Ignacio.”
“Sí, but what we want and don’t want doesn’t really matter, Delia. At least, not for me. Stay with the grandfather,” he said, and started to rise.
“No, I can’t. He doesn’t want me to stay, anyway. He wants only his grandson.”
“My father wants grandsons, too. Right now, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to bring another child into this world. Adios, muchacha.” He started away.