“Juanita” : Short Story #1

In celebration of my first post on my blog, I will also announce my recent publication of my short fiction, “Juanita” in Feminine Inquiry literary magazine.

I began this story on my final year of college in San Jose State. Although I based the tale some oral family stories, I did not feel that it would be published so quickly. I had this work revised numerous times by my peers so perhaps it was more ready than I thought it would be. Hearing the accomplishments of others had me thinking that I would not be published until many years later, but with this story out in the world, I am already at a good start.

I would like to say thank you to my family, and Editor in chief Jourden Sanders for giving me and my story a step into the publishing world.

Click here for the Feminine Inquiry website and to learn how to receive your own copy of the upcoming issue. This magazine is a new venture just beginning to take hold, so please excuse the staff for any short comings.

Juanita

By Alex Marroquin

            In the sleepy, peasant town of Mantaro, Juanita prepared a pot of stew thick with lamb,

carrots, and red onions to feed her husband, Mansueto.  Juanita whispered the many words for

love in ancient Quechua, and the steam of the stew turned gold.  She spun and swooned as she

counted the seconds to her husband’s return.  The utensils rocked and rattled until Juanita heard

the doorknob rustling behind her.

            The splintered wooden door squeaked open, letting in Mansueto with long rolls of fabric

in both his arms, and a basket of clothing pins with his mouth.  He kicked the door shut and set

aside the tools of his trade before he dragged himself to kiss Juanita.  She felt blessed as she

poured the chunky stew onto Mansueto’s wooden bowel.  The smell of the hexed stew distracted

him from asking about the golden steam.

            “Open up!” a roaring voice followed by violent knocks on the door interrupted the

tranquil evening.

            Juanita begged her husband not to answer, but Mansueto reluctantly opened the door and

finds pair of masked guerillas adorning straw hats and dusty, hand-knit sweaters.  Mansueto

looked over their shoulders and saw three more waiting anxiously in a pick up truck with smoke

rising from the exposed engine.

            “Good evening, I am comrade Sandra, and this is comrade Jose” the guerilla on the left

introduced herself.

            “I am comrade Jose,” the guerilla on the right said with a raspy voice.  “We need your

truck and ten pounds of food from you immediately.”

            Mansueto heard Juanita gasp behind him.  He puffed his potbelly to shield her from the

insurgents. “Step off of our farm!” he bellowed with the heart of an Incan Emperor.

            Undeterred, the communists pulled out rusty Chinese pistols to shatter Mansueto’s

transparent valor.

            “Give us the truck you stupid old man!” Sandra demanded while she aimed her weapon at

Juanita.  Mansueto felt the earth slightly tremble as he looked into Juanita’s frightened eyes. 

Juanita takes in a deep breath and chants phrases in Quechua until the shaking stops.  The

guerillas didn’t seem to have noticed; their feral eyes remained locked onto Mansueto’s shivering

hands.  Mansueto fumbled and stuttered while searching through his pockets, dropping the little

amounts of money, textiles, and dignity he had left.

            Juanita pushed Mansueto aside and dangled the keys in front of the guerillas.  She stuffed

them inside her llama wool sweater.  Mansueto saw a golden mist forming a thin cocoon around

his wife.  Jose remained oblivious, but Sandra’s face twisted in confusion as if she saw the

golden layer as well.

            “Come on, Goddamn it!” Juanita shouted. “You can’t steal from a woman, can you?  Why

don’t you shoot me?”

            “Shut up!” Sandra stuttered as she pulled Jose away from Juanita. 

            Sandra’s hands shivered until her gun slipped through her sweaty fingers.  Jose tried to

pick it up, but Sandra dragged him with her back to the broken pick up truck.  Mansueto stood

aside and laughed as the truck sped away and left a cloud of red dust.  Juanita’s golden shield

faded away as she noticed the deep cracks, traces of industrial glue, and chipped triggers on the

dropped gun.  She tossed it into a pile of charred wheat and corn.  Mansueto hugged his wife

tightly, but Juanita shut her arms and looked back at him coldly. 

            “Oh, how blessed are we?” Mansueto cried.  “You were glowing like an­­­­­­−”

            “How could you give up the truck?” Juanita yelled as she smacked her husband.  “How

can you go to work without it?” Mansueto looked down in embarrassment and returned to the

table  to finish his stew.  Juanita shut the door and kissed her husband on his sweaty forehead.  “I

love you too,” she said shamefaced.  Mansueto returned to his stew with the golden steam still

swirling above it.

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