Previously in this series: How to Tell If You Are in a Jorge Luis Borges Story.
It has been thirty years since the Romano family killed your betrothed, and you have never forgotten.
Your mother carries a stick at all times, but not because she is lamed by her bitter old age. Not even your mother remembers a summer as hot as this one.
You long to have a child so that your husband’s fields may bear wheat once again. The longing is like a terrible hunger that feeds on your bones. Your neighbour two miles away is in her twelfth pregnancy and still comes every week to help you with your laundry. In your prayers you wish a death in childbirth on her head.
You never do anything without singing a very long folk song.
Alternately, if your name is something like ‘Mozo 3’ or ‘Criada 7’ then you only exist to sing the chorus in those folk songs.
The summer is so pitilessly hot that it feels like dying. You can scarcely lift your fan.
The richest man for miles around has come to court you. He is modern-minded and believes in making eye contact before your wedding. He brings you petticoats made of Holland linen and with lace trimming on the skirts. You are now betrothed.
It has been fifty years since the Félix family killed your brother, and you have never forgiven.
The men are singing as they come home from the fields. One of them grabbed your breasts behind the stable door once. How you wish you had a man in this house tonight. You still thrill at the memory of him. You were groped by the force of life itself.
All the windows on your great white house are shuttered. Inside, the heat is unbearable, but to go outside would bring eternal dishonour.
You tell all your problems to an impudent maid who despises you.
You despise your in-laws.
You despise either all your siblings whose names begin with A, or all your siblings whose names begin with M.
A beggar woman comes to your door, imploring mercy. Since the neighbours are watching, you give her a handful of chickpeas and only two blows to the head with your mother’s stick. Afterwards you worry that you have turned her into a thieving parasite upon the respectable caste.
You are going to wear orange blossoms on your breast at your wedding, but only you know that they are made of wax.
Everyone is dancing, and you have to lead them. You wish you were dead.
The whole village has gone to another funeral, and the clamour of the bells seems to sound between your temples. The new priest is a fool. Oh, how you wish for him to grope your breasts behind the stable door.
The village well is running dry.
Every day you insist on riding your horse to the well, then ride fifty miles down the long and dusty road in the fiery summer heat before you get there. You will kill the poor beast doing that. You do not care. Only when you are riding him do you thrill with the force of life itself.
You take a knife to cut the olives from the trees. It thirsts for blood. Your fate was decided before your birth.
You meet a woman by the well who is older than the stones of the fields and rumoured to be a witch. She laughs and laughs.
You go outside. The moon shines down mercilessly upon your shame. The moon will tell all the village women. They will wash their clothes and talk of your wax orange blossoms. You have no choice but to hang yourself in the olive grove. None at all.