I open the envelope and read the first words, “Congratulations.” I plop down on my bed, put the letter against my heart, and transcend into a million dreams. I did it. I’m in. I’m in.
I had a job at a local plant nursery, helping customers bring heavy pots and bags of soil to their cars. My pay was a meager wage, but within a year I was promoted to Manager. I spent a lot of time there, saving every penny, refusing the invitations to the sorority parties most of my friends were going to. I would leave for school in the evenings and once I was home, I threw myself on the bed embracing how rewarding a hard day’s work can be.
“Mami! Mami!” I scurry to the kitchen, spin on my heels, and inhale her sancocho.
“Yes?” She proceeds to cut the chicken breast into bite size pieces.
“Mami, I got accepted. I got in.”
Her dark brown eyes crinkle with confusion. “Accepted where? What are you talking about?”
“I got accepted to my dream school! Can you believe it?”
“What’s your dream school?”
“The University of…”
The ringing of the phone reverberates through the house. As she answers the phone, I drift to the window and see my brother playing basketball with our beat up hoop.
“I didn’t know you had applied,” she responds once she hung up the phone. “You got… accepted? How?”
I recoil upon her how. Biting my lower lip, I scan our home and see a corner of the embroidered certificate with my name on it. I made the Dean’s List three semesters in a row. On top of it was her closed purse. The excitement dwindles. Discarding my silence, my mom picks up the cutting board and scrapes the chicken into la olla.
“That was the doctor’s office that called. You tested positive.”
I withdraw to the bathroom and notice the yellowing of the whites of my eyes and the pustules which appear all over my body. With 24 hours to live, I’m shattered.
“What are you going to do now,” she interjects, eyebrows raised, with derisive air to her. “I hope you’re not still thinking about going to college.”
My mother walks away and I hear the clang of the knife hit the chopping board.
I kneel on my bathroom floor and close my eyes. There’s a cure, the doctor reassured. However, it’s an exorbitant amount of money. I break down. The dream evaporates.