The woman looked from left to right. Her children had gathered around her, their expressions stamped with anxiety. Soraya’s time on Earth was growing short, and she knew it.
Her middle daughter, Yanira, tried to press a smile into the soft features of her face, but it wouldn’t stay. She sat near the foot of her bed, patting down the bedspread. She seemed to have an obsession with it. As if an orderly bed would make everything else okay.
The woman’s eldest daughter, Lysette, stood at the head of the bed, arms crossed, eyes downcast. She was the one who contacted her siblings, and let them know as gently as possible that they must come to see their Mother soon, or not see her again.
Lysette pouted, an expression reminiscent of her Father.
“Yanira. Carlos. I need to speak alone with your sister, just for a moment.”
“Of course,” Carlos replied.
Jealousy flashed through Yanira’s eyes like lightening. She said nothing but stalked out of the room behind Carlos.
Soraya’s daughters had grown up with jealousy between them. Despite having tried to be fair between the two, and to make Yanira feel equal to her sister- Soraya knew that she favored Lysette. She was the first child, and part of it was that.
With her dark round eyes and café con leche skin, Lysette was by far the prettier girl. Yanira was plain in comparison.
She wondered what would happen between her daughters, now that she would no longer be with them.
“What is it, Mother?” Lysette asked softly.
There are things I need to tell you, which doesn’t concern the others. Things which you may prefer not to share. But, I want you to know. You have that right.”
The woman took a breath before she continued. “I am sure that you may already know, but as much as he loved you, Papa was not your Father.”
Lysette nodded. “That confirms some things for me.”
“I’d like you to know, I loved your Father.”
“Who was he?”
“A man I met in Spain. We married. Your grandfather didn’t approve of him. He had me taken away and sent back to Central America. I didn‘t know then that I was carrying his child, but it wasn‘t long after I returned home that I found out. So my Father began to look for a suitable man to marry me. He chose Julio Vega.”
“My Father. Did he ever look for you?”
“He may have. But I know that my Father would have made it hard for him to find me.”
Lysette lowered her voice. “He was….. What I am?” she shivered. “You let me think that I was the only one? That there weren’t others….?”
“I never said that,” Soraya replied. “When we married, Julio promised to raise you as his own daughter. He made me promise that as long as he lived, I wouldn’t tell you that you were not his child. Julio has been gone for years now. And I….” the woman’s eyes filled with tears.
“Tell me his name.”
The old woman paused. It had been so long since she had let his name pass her lips, that saying it was odd. Like releasing some long forgotten and well protected spell.
“Where is this man? Is he still alive?”
“I don’t know. But my guess is that he may be alive. And perhaps, looking as young as you do.”
“So you knew what he was, when you were with him, and that if you had children..”
“I knew he was a good man, and I loved him. And as far as him being–Wolf,” the last word caught between her teeth in a hiss. “That was nothing new. You young people don’t believe in the old stories. But where I come from, we know of the Wolves.”
“Did my Father….did Julio know of this?”
“Julio knew who Justin was. They’d met before, though that was long before I knew either of them. Granthem was actually one of many Wolves that had sworn to protect the Vega family.”
Soraya closed her eyes. She could feel her daughter watching. She waited for the silence to break, for Lysette to ask another question. She knew her daughter was angry.
She barely felt the pillow touch her face. And then, the pressure.
She tried to fight, but only for a moment.
Lysette threw the pillow on the floor.
In death, her Mother’s face looked peaceful. She’d barely flinched when Lysette covered her face. She was probably ready to die, anyway.
And, Mother cleared her damned conscience, Lysette thought angrily.
Lysette straightened the bedcovers carefully. She took a wet cloth and smoothed her Mother’s face with it. She closed her eyes gently. She put the pillow back where it belonged.
She made sure that tears streaked her own face before she ran downstairs to tell her brother and sister that their Mother had passed on.
©2010 Lori Titus