Crimson pooled within the cracks of the mirror, a reflection more suiting for the woman that was before it. Knuckles bled as jaw ticked, orbs watching the droplets fall into the porcelain basin with facintation. Rummaging the cabinet beneath the sink, hands found purchase on a medical bag. Her medical bag. Well, she only assumed it was by seeing her name etched on the leather. Luna gave pause for a moment, pads of left hand fingers dancing over the name, faintest of smiles threatening the corner of her tiers. With a shake of her head, she dug through the contents, finding the cleaning supplies she needed to attend the wound on her right hand. Gauze adorned hand ached with a constant throb but nothing near has what she would have imagined it could have been.
Just as she was about to zip the bag up, eyes caught a glimpse of a photo at the bottom of the back. “Madre.” the single word carried so much emotion. “Of course. Why haven’t I gone home yet? Ma would know what's going on. Duh!!” with a scoff, the Latina took the photo and shoved it in the back pocket of the denim jeans that she wore.
Leaving the apartment, her focus was drift to the Mustang that sat oddly parked. “You’ve got to be sh*tting me. I have wanted one of those since I was a teenager." Making a quick turn, she attempted to look for the keys. But it was apparent that drunk Luna three nights before had decided to misplace them. “Nothing but a thang.” she shrugged making her way back out to the car. Popping the trunk, she withdrew a few tools. Following moments consisted of a slew of curse words and grunts as she worked beneath the dashboard. With a few lucky strikes, a wicked grin danced at her features as the engine purred to life like a dream. “BINGO BABY!!” victory fist pump commenced along with a little gig right in the middle of the drive.
Traveling the all too familiar path, Luna made her way to her old home, having the slightest inkling as to what lay ahead. Something in her heart warmed as the house came into view. Old Victorian two story home with the wrap around porch. The place where she grew up. The reminder of Sunday morning breakfast at the island bar in the kitchen. Dinner dances with Madre before flour fights while making cookies for The Orphanage. The smell of home-made tamales on Friday nights.
But then the not so good memories tugged at the darkest corners of her mind. Screams of horror in the dead of night. Angelo, the gardener, washing away blood stains from the patio. Her Padre’s face mere inches away from a man tied in a chair by barbed wire. Hands around her throat with a swift backhand to the cheek the one time she dared to enter the basement and found Angelo hanging by shackles from the ceiling. That was a time after that she had spent in the hospital for a dislocated jaw and fractured cheek. As the story was told, she was a young one with accidental tendencies.
Tears rolled down her cheek before she was able to wipe them away with a sniff. At the very least, she didn’t see his car parked in the drive. “Ma will be alone. That is always a bonus. Easier times.” she bound up the stairs of the porch two at a time with a grin, the anticipation within her couldn’t quite be contained.
With a turn of the knob, Luna attempted to enter the home only to be met with resistance, face planting directly with the window. “What the hell Ma! I know I have been gone a few days, but to lock your only daughter out of the house is a bit extreme, don’t ya think?” the pounded with the heel of her hand against the window. “HEY MA!! Listen, I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you, prometo!!” knocks once more only to be met with silence. “I’ll make you your favorite. Cheesecake with cajeta.” she bargained, desperation in her tone. Again, she was only met with the crickets that chirp in the distance.
With a resonating huff, she kicked the door pinching the bridge of her nose. Stomping like a two year old, she took the path to the backyard. If her Madre wouldn’t let her in, she would just have to sneak in, just as she had done so many times before. The window that led to Luna’s bedroom never locked. And considering that her Padre was never the handy man when it came to household chores, it was easy access for the young one to come and go as she pleased without going out the front door. Less the ‘rentals knew, the better.
Climbing the lattice that was just below her window, thorns of freshly bloomed roses staked claim within her palms. “That’s new.” dark brows knitted together, trying to remember what flowers were there before. “What happened to the ivy?” confusion washed over her. With a futile push to the window she was at now, it didn’t budge. “The one time I wanna sneak in the house, the cabron decides it a good idea to fix things.” her patience was running thin. Taking the screwdriver from her back pocket she was using earlier, Luna smashed it against the glass. “If I’m going to get in trouble, mind as well go all out, si?”
With a grunt, she heaved herself over the ledge of the window. In what she expected to be a beanbag there was a plethora of plants. Ceramic shattered beneath her fall. “What. The. Actual? F***?? I’m replaced by nature?!?! Seriously? Gone for less than a week and you….” dusting off potting soil and Irises, Luna got her first true glimpse at the room she was in. “It’s like I was never here..” it was a blow to her heart. How quickly could one be replaced? Apparently less than 72 hours.
Before she was able to gain composure, a click sounded in the room. Time seemed to stand still as her breathing halted completely. “What the hell are you doing in my house?” a male’s voice came from in front of her. The clicking sound was a gun, and now it was pointed directly at her.
“Are you straight out of the looney tunes bin, pinche gringo? I live here.” heart hammered so loudly she was certain that the stranger heard it too. “I’ve owned this property for nine years now. Ever since the owner met an untimely death. Shame really on how she went. It was flooded all across the new paper. How could a man that claimed to love his wife do such a horrid thing? And that daughter and her new born son?” the man’s stance slacked a fraction. “Mrs. Saltero was a wonderful woman. Did a lot for the community.”
All the while, Luna’s mind was running wild. Everything making sense and not at the same time. “Wait...what are you talking about? Mrs. Saltero is perfectly fine. I saw her just a few days ago. We were going to driving me up to Yale next week.”
“Are you off your meds, sweetheart? Mrs. Saltero was slaughtered nine years ago by her husband.”
“STOP IT! You don’t know what you’re talking about!! That’s ludacris. My Padre would never….” Luna shook her head rapidly back and forth, anger building within her.
“You f***ing nuts woman! GET THE HELL OUT OF MY HOUSE!” gun again pointed directly at her head.
“You’re lying. Why would you say such wretched things!? You don’t know a damned thing. Stop talking….stop talking!!” with a forceful push with palms at the males chest, he went flying across the room, the gum clattering to the ground as sheetrock dusted the air where the man landed.
The Latina glanced down at her hands in awe. She didn’t use that much force. And even then, she was much smaller than her counterpart. “This isn’t happening.” fresh tears flooded her eyes as she picked up the gun and angled at the man trying to get up.
Inching her way towards the door, she held the gun in place. “You’re gonna let me leave here. Stay there. Right. There.”
Scrambling, she took the staircase down to the front door with the gun clutched in her hand. Upon opening the front door, three armed police men had guns of their own trained on her.
“Drop the gun and put your hands behind your head.”