Read Revolution for Free Online

Book: Read Revolution for Free Online
Authors: Deb Olin Unferth
    â€œThe girls are going to fetch water. I suppose you’ve never done that either,” she said, as if no one in the United States had to fetch water from the river. (Of course no one did.)
    She knew English and spoke it well, but to us she spoke Spanish. If she switched to English with me it meant she really meant business. It meant she was furious.
    She loved George. “At last a man has come,” she said. She lilted a little in Spanish. “We’ve been here alone so long and now God has sent us a man.” She wore girlish dresses, bare hair knocking around her shoulders. She could pull out a shy grin.
    â€œ Para servirle , at your service,” George said, straightening his shoulders, ready to give a more dramatic demonstration of his worth beyond mere child care.
    Yeah, George. That guy clicked into place like a battery. He was out in the courtyard, tossing a ball around, playing basketball and winning. The orphans wanted him to win, they let him win. You should have seen him, running around in circles with the boys. Making them do push-ups. They loved him. It was awful. The youngest were scared of me. A girl who couldn’t pat a tortilla. Who could barely lift a pail of water. Who couldn’t sew. I was a disaster. I was scared of them too. The oldest were a year younger than me and ignored me. I was even more afraid of them. I tried to reach them in our own language—teenage talk—but that too was a bad setback. My ideas about Christianity were more liberal than Mana’s—I mean, they weren’t allowed to dance or wear makeup, for Christ’s sake—and I knew a few things that teenage girls like to do for fun.
    It wasn’t going to work out, okay?
    *   *   *
    It was the bra that brought it to an end. We’d been there only a couple of weeks. Mana said I had to wear a bra. I said I was flat-chested and saw no point to it and anyway I didn’t even own one. She said the man with the car would make a special trip to bring me to a store where I could buy one. I said that was a fine way to spend money. I said that was a fine way to waste everyone’s afternoon. “And you know what?” I said to George. “Who cares. It’s a bra.”
    â€œJust borrow a bra from Mana,” George said.
    (He’d noticed Mana’s bra.)
    We were in the hallway talking furtively because we were supposed to be demonstrating proper male-around-female behavior, which was no behavior, which was male-stay-away-from-female behavior because we’d been foolish enough to admit we weren’t married so we had to stay in separate girls’ and boys’ houses and call each other “hermano” and “hermana.” Everybody was an hermano or hermana around there. You didn’t have to be a nun. They all marched around in lines like a movie musical. I couldn’t stand to be away from George. That would change later, but at that point to be kept apart was the height of outrage. I walked from room to room, despairing and fuming.
    â€œI don’t want to wear a stupid bra,” I said.
    â€œWould it really kill you?” said George. “Would you drop dead?”
    â€œSince when are you so interested in bras? Since when do you just follow whatever rule there happens to be? I don’t see you wearing a bra.”
    â€œShe has a lot more to think about than you and your bras.”
    â€œApparently she doesn’t,” I said.
    *   *   *
    Mana was alone out there, apart from the local woman who cleaned. She was guardian of some sixty children, shooting going on outside the wall. She didn’t even have a car on the premises, let alone a couple of buses in case they had to evacuate. And things were bad. The soldiers were suspicious. They had an eye out for rebel activity, they had their orders. The orphanage was strictly evangélico and therefore unpolitical. But every day or two a

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