Maria woke up in the middle of the night from a hysterical scream. She was uncertain if she was having a nightmare, and soon after heard another growl coming closer to her door. Before her eyes could open, her mother had burst into the room and turned the lights. Maria couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Her mother, who was always poised and eloquent, looked like the witch of the mountains had possessed her soul. Maria was sure this was a dream. She kept rubbing her eyes to see if the devastating image of her mother would go away.

“He is gone!” Her mother shouted, slouching towards the ground while the maids tried to keep her off the cold floor.

“Who’s gone?” Maria mumbled not to upset her mother, although she wanted to know the answer.

She followed her mother to the living room and was surprised that her siblings were all awakened. The maids were trying to prevent Maria’s mother from harming herself as she was nine months pregnant. Maria didn’t know what had happened, but she noticed her father was not there. Her heart nearly sank to the ground, ” could it be him?” She knew that this would never occur in the presence of her father. ” If he is gone, then where did he go?” Her father being absent was not unusual to the family, as he often would travel for months on business trips to Europe. But he would always tell the children before traveling and would ask Maria what she wanted from Europe which she would reply, “a new book.” Maria was sure that her father had just gotten hurt and gone to the hospital, consequently leaving her mother devastated. Suddenly, Maria’s great-uncles stumbled in through the door. Now she was sure that something was wrong. Maria’s uncle would never dare to stop by without her father’s permission. Maria had heard an argument between her parents where her father had ordered the mom not to have her brothers over without him there. He didn’t trust his wife’s brothers since they took his eldest son to a meeting where they were plotting a revolution against Portuguese colonialism.

“Call the doctor!” shouted the uncle. “She will kill herself from hysteria.”
Maria’s brother ran out of the door to get the doctor. She slowly drifted away in her mind, where her mother’s shouts would subsequently become less pronounced. She had glanced for the first time at the porcelain collection carefully poised on the shelves. Most vases had images of ducks and exotic flowers, something she had never noticed before. Her thoughts were disturbed once her brother burst through the door with the doctor behind him. The doctor thought Maria’s mother was going through labor as he knew she was nine months pregnant.

The doctor distinguished the screams of Maria’s mother from those of active labor. He had ordered the maids to secure her tightly in the bed while he extended her sleeves up where he could inject a powerful tranquilizer. The doctor left the house swiftly, leaving a list of prescriptions with extensive instructions.

The darkness of the night had fallen with the now quietness of the house. The mother had fallen into a deep sleep. The maids delicately placed the younger siblings back in their beds. The older brothers kept dosing in and out of sleep but not Maria. She was fully awake and determined to resolve the mystery of the night. The only way Maria was going to find the reason for her mother’s unexpected behavior was through her tall, firm, and elegant uncles, who were sitting by the dining table with a candle between them. Maria strategically poured some water into two cups to serve the uncle. As she got closer she heard, “now that he’s gone we will march at dawn.” Her heart nearly sank, and her hands began to shake ferociously to the point she always dropped the cups of water. The uncles felt her approach and immediately finished the conversation without glancing away. Maria had an exceptional intuition; she didn’t know how but knew that her life would never be the same again.

Current Reading: Becoming by Michelle Obama


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