Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flikr
Millie spent about six hours getting ready the morning of her Quincenera. The centuries-old traditional Mexican celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday meant everything in this town. Her father had even hired a car to take them to the restaurant where the party was being held. It was the first car she had ever ridden in, driven by a stunning white horse. Riding in it, she felt like Cinderella – only her “slippers” were made of raffia, not glass, and they’d cost 35 pesos, not a fortune in gold.
Bump-bumping down the cobblestone streets with her father on her left side, mother on her right, Millie was sweating. The dress her mother had made for the occasion was of a heavy cotton fabric that made her feel like wilting in the sun.
Only 15 years old, and I’m already going to die. How sad. Millie really was only 15 and so she did not realize she actually was a kind of flower. Her hair was on the thin side, ashy blond, and it caught the sun the way an empty spider’s web catches light early in the morning. It felt so warm. She thought about shampooing her hair with the sunlight. Now that is bound to be an expensive hair product!
At the restaurant, all her favorite foods awaited her, along with her friends and relatives. Millie was completing the 8th grade and this would be her last year at school before she took over the running of their home, at her mother’s side, in preparation for marriage. The part she was not looking forward to was the gardening: her mother’s vegetable garden begged for weekly, if not daily attention, and Millie didn’t have the interest or attention span to make the things grow.
After the party, Millie went straight to her bedroom and removed her dress. She took the childhood photo of her entire extended family, with herself seated neatly front and center, out of its iron frame. Dressing again in comfortable linen wear, she took the photo out to the vegetable garden.