Literature / Poetry

The Saint

This is a short story written for my college creative writing class.


 

She wasn’t like the others. She wasn’t like Stacy or Sarah or Maya. She was something else. I’ve been through six states in eight towns in twenty years, and I’ll never meet anyone like her again. Every coffee shop, every gas station, every damn restaurant: I see her face.

I met her in college: she was the manager of the first campus job I ever had. She was a Latina with dark brown hair and fair tan skin, her eyes a chestnut hazel. There was a tiny gap in between her two front teeth, and her nose was small and pointed. Her hair was down to her shoulders, soft to the touch and smelling of shampoo.

She had the name of a Roman Catholic saint; I asked her one time if she knew what it meant, and she replied that she did not. Curious and interested, I researched her name: it is Spanish for the Virgin Mary.

But it wasn’t just her name that she had in common with Mary: she was angelic, timid, innocent in a way that my eyes and words almost can’t explain. She never yelled, never cursed; her presence would brighten up the room, and her smile made you joyful and exuberant; you could talk to her in Spanish and tell her dirty jokes and the other students would wonder what it was you guys were talking about. She was a woman, older than I, but at the same time she was also a girl, as young and as virgin as any could be.

I loved her. I loved this woman, and she is gone and I will not find her again. I cannot tell if I pushed her away or if she was always far from me.

*

School had just started, and a strapping, tall young man had walked into her café looking for a job; he had light short brown hair, thin and long arms, and was wearing a three-piece black suit in hope of an interview.

She saw him, and he saw her, and there was a connection; he was attractive, as was she, and for a moment the young man forgot he was a college student looking for a job and felt like he was a stud looking for a date. He approached the young Latina woman, who had on a suit herself, and spoke about a job.

He was hired on the spot.

They worked together in the late nights after closing time: they brewed the coffee for the next day, swept the floors and sprayed the windows, and counted the money in a small manager’s office in the back of the café.

It was in that small box that they made love for the first time.

It was hot, passionate, emotional lovemaking, the black oak desk being the surface upon which the young Latina saint had known a man for the first time in a long while. The young boy had felt he scored a touchdown and won the game-winning basket: he felt on top of the world.

It all came crashing down on him.

*

Things progressed like it was the typical young-man-hooks-up-with-an-older-woman story: the boy and the saintly woman knew each other often, their meetings secret from the world. Sometimes she would instigate the passion, and sometimes the young man would make the move.

It was sometimes at her house, and sometimes at his dorm; she looked young enough to be a student as far as anyone could tell. The lovemaking was fierce and determined, and they both enjoyed the circumstances.

But the weeks turned into months, and the months turned into a year, and the young man felt more and more like he was falling for the saint. There was more than just body: there was spirit and heart and mind. He thought about her all the time, fantasized all the time, and more and more his heart wanted to know what existed between them.

But she resisted, and would not let out her feelings. She would not tell him how she felt, and she would give him no closure or satisfaction.

*

            You must think I’m crazy: any guy would kill to be where I was. Attractive older woman flirting around with a young college kid, it’s right out of a 1970s John Holmes pornographic film.

But there is more to it than that: time has a way of teaching the young man to grow up, and the older woman to long to be young again.

As time wore on, I began to love this woman.

I imagined a whole life with her; I imagined finishing my studies and marrying her; I imagined having kids and a mortgage and a car payment with her, paying off my student loans and perhaps inheriting what she had from her younger years; I imagined her little Chihuahua becoming my little Chihuahua, her house becoming my house, her heart becoming my heart.

But it was never meant to be.

*

It was raining on that particular day; the sky was black and it was well into the night. The young man and the saint had finished their duties, and he walked her to her car in the pouring rain.

They drove in silence, her hands gripping the steering wheel tightly and her body slightly quivering. The windshield wipers went back-and-forth, the heater blasting warm air onto their faces.

She did not smile; she did not joke or turn on the radio or call him chico; she did not punch her knuckles into his chest or touch his broad shoulders or glide her fingernails across his blond arm hair. This day was different, and he could feel it.

It was warm inside of her house; the little Chihuahua rushed at him with the same affection as always, licking his hand and running in between his legs. She walked to the kitchen to put down her things as always, and asked if he needed anything.

He didn’t have the guts to say the word love.

They proceeded upstairs in the dim light, her buttocks close to his face in grey trousers: it didn’t stir in him the same feelings as before.

They got upstairs, and she went to the master bathroom as always to undress and spruce up; he stood by the door in front of the big dressing mirror on the wall and looked at himself: he saw a tall, empty young man; he saw a young man who felt like terribly old, who felt like his relationship had lost its flame and he didn’t know how to keep the embers smoldering.

But then he remembered: there was no relationship.

She came out of the bathroom in black undergarments, her legs sleek and attractive; her hair was longer now, down to her breasts, and she held her hands on her tummy. She looked at the young man, passion and longing in her eyes, but there was something else he had not seen before.

Anger.

She approached him, her walk like that of Marilyn Monroe. They stared into each other’s eyes, and although a part of his body was speaking to him, he knew it wasn’t a part that mattered.

“I love you,” he said softly.

She stopped dead in her tracks, her mouth opening slightly. She looked at him in the eyes for a moment, and then stepped back and sat down on the bed. She stared at the ground.

He could not move or think or talk, and sadness slowly began to creep over him. There was a dead silence in the room, and they sat there for what seemed like a thousand years.

“Why are you doing this to me?” she asked him.

He looked for the words to answer.

“What is it I am doing to you, Lupe?” he asked softly.

She turned and laid down on the bed; she crossed her arms and stared at the wall. The young man approached the bed and laid down with her, putting the blanket over her soft skin. He put his hand over hers and stared into her eyes.

She began to cry.

“Why don’t you love me, Lupe?”

“There’s someone else… He’s a chef in Southern California.. he comes here on the weekends sometimes… We’ve been together for eight years, and he wants to be together forever. I love him… How could I love you?”

The boy couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He felt like he had been used.

“Then what was all of this for, Lupe? Why have you been lying to me for so long?”

She stared into his eyes, her eyes red and puffy and his becoming the same. He stood up from the bed and walked to the doorway; he turned back around and stared at the bed and the girl who was laying there, weeping and sorrowful. He walked out of the house without another word, the rain pouring down on him.

*

            You might be wondering, why do I care about a girl who did all of this to me? Well… I ask myself the same question. I have yet to find an answer. It’s not easy to just forget and go on.

I loved her. She was my first… and she will always be my first.

She quit her job at the café and moved to Southern California with him. I didn’t hear about it until I went back to work. I didn’t even get to say goodbye… For how long we were… together… if that’s the word… I didn’t even get to say goodbye…

I wish I could’ve told her I loved her… just one more time… I wish sometimes that I could go back in time and make things different. I sometimes wish I didn’t go into that coffee shop and ask for a job in a three-piece suit; I sometimes wish I didn’t want children or marriage or a mortgage with her; I sometimes wish I was dead, because that’s how my heart feels after all of this.

I can’t blame her completely: I was the one who loved her. I like to think, in some way, she loved me and she just couldn’t say it. She didn’t have the words to say it.

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