Reina, Who Sees Cars

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
There are no cars, you’re only imagining, her husband scolds. Just go a little slower, Reina wants to say, but she knows it is not a woman’s place to say such bold things. He knows what he’s doing, she convinces herself, just like she knows how to wake up before dawn to make los tamales for his lunch so he never gets hungry or how to mop the floors so it looks as if no soul lives there or how to fold the laundry so it has no wrinkles. The police car comes into view, the one that he said wasn’t there before. The one hiding in the corner. The one that sends you back if you don’t have a license. He doesn’t have a license. She doesn’t want to go back. It slowly drives away, suspicious of the beat up, dirty white van.
Reina, whose mom is not here, is sorry she didn’t listen. She’s sorry she didn’t listen when they told her not to marry too soon, to go to school instead. Reina, who inherited her mom’s ollas and aching back is still young and smart enough to finish high school because she doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life with the ollas on the stove. She sees the cars, the ones that her husband says are not there. And every time she sees the cars, she feels out of place, like a curse in a cathedral. They’re always waiting, always watching. Hiding in the corners. She, who is scared of nothing except cars with sirens. And husbands. Husbands who don’t see.