By Felisha Flores–
Paco was rummaging through the old dresser to clean everything out. Lipsticks, clothes, magazines, even an empty can of spray paint were among its contents. Most peculiar was a folded piece of paper that fell out from in between the pages of one of his old Lowrider magazines. It was addressed to Roja in Lisa’s writing:
Mi Amiga, Mi Amor, Roja,
I am writing this letter to you because you are gone, and I miss you. I know you will be back soon, but I realized this is the first time in our lives, since the first day of kindergarten when we met, that we have been away from each other. Except for the day you missed school back in fourth grade to go to your tio’s funeral. I pretended like I was sick and went to the nurse’s office first thing in the morning.
She sent me back after an hour because nothing was wrong with me, but I went back on my own again during lunch. I had to, I had no one else to sit with or talk to. I never told you that because I wanted you to think I was like Laura; tough. Well I’m not like my sister at all. She leaves people and never looks back. She doesn’t even care about me or my brothers anymore.
Speaking of brothers, Paco misses you more than I do. I didn’t think it was possible but all he does is mope around the house and clean his stupid truck. There are a lot of things I’ve never told you. So I’ll go ahead and tell you some now since I’m never going to give you this letter anyway.
Remember when I first saw you? I wanted to be you. You looked so clean in your dress and braided hair. You were so pretty even then, even for a five year old. I wanted to claim you first as my friend before anybody else did. I knew you were going to be something great. Something everyone else would want, and I’d be able to say you were mine.
Remember when we got into that fight at the car show and you dented Paco’s fender trying to protect me from the other Cholas? I never told you I saw him rubbing the dent the next day and shaking his head while smiling. At that moment I knew that no matter what you did, Paco would never be angry with you…
Paco didn’t finish reading the rest of the letter. His eyes were blurred from the water starting to surface in them. That last sentence stung. It hurt to think about the way he treated Roja last time he saw her. If Lisa was there to witness it, she would have taken back those words and Paco would probably have a black eye from her or something worse.
Paco realized Lisa must have written the letter when Roja was in Europe with her grandparents a few summers back. Because Lisa was right, they were never apart. He laughed inside himself wondering how she did it. How could she remain a constant fixture at Lisa’s side yet a devoted girlfriend to him? Brother and sister living in the same house must have helped out.
Yet nobody became jealous of the other or demanded anything of one another. Except for the time Laura came back for Lisa’s quinceanera and was obviously jealous that everyone else lived their lives harmoniously without her.
“Paco! Tienes hambre?”
He heard Laura shouting from the kitchen at him. “No!” He answered back quickly before she came to find him. He quickly put the letter in the back pocket of his jeans, knowing it would end up in between the pages of another magazine, hidden somewhere in one of his old drawers. Maybe one day he’d find the courage to read the rest of it.