After Elida got the job, the owner of the place assigned her a room in her house. The door was made of wooden pallets, and everybody could see through it into the room. The space was very small, barely fitting a metal cot with an old straw mattress. The room was as dark and cold as the memory of what Elida carried inside her body.
Elida couldn’t sleep that night as the wind blew hard, hitting the flimsy wooden door that was unable to prevent the cold of the night from penetrating her room. Elida tried to protect herself from the cold wind with a small blanket, made with pieces of cloth that the owner of the place provided her with. When the rooster crowed at dawn the next day, Elida heard various conversations outside her room. Feeling concern and curiosity, she opened the door and observed a rather peculiar scene.
A group of women, very placidly in their underwear, were bathing around a huge basin of water. It could be seen that they were enjoying the water, while their laughter together with the wind fluttered everywhere. The women used the same bar of soap that was passed from hand to hand. Then using plastic washbowls, they threw water at each other.
One of the women discovered that Elida was watching them and shouted in a loud voice, “LOOK AT THE NEW ONE”. Elida felt embarrassed and her face flushed red. She, however, left her room and walked towards where the women were. One of them asked her, “You girl, aren’t you going to bathe?” Elida did not answer and remained silent. Then another woman who was looking at Elida’s dress that was torn and stained with blood, asked “Was last night your first time doing this job?” Hearing the question Elida began to cry.
“In this job, we all cry after the first time,” Thelma said. While she dropped a basin of very cold water on Elida’s head. Elida felt that she was drowning as her skin crawled from how cold the water was. All the women began to laugh out loud. Then Elida wiped her face with her hands, and she began to laugh too.
Then, with her gaze, Elida began to look for whoever had dropped the water on her head. “It was me,” said Thelma, a tall, thin, white-skinned woman with wavy black hair. Standing in front of her, Elida said, “I came to work cleaning.” That instantly elicited laughter from all the women again.
“Yes girl, we all work here cleaning. We clean the pockets of all the men who fall into our arms.” Brisa answered, as she approached Elida. Then she looked at her from head to toe with an intriguing gaze and looking into Elida’s eyes she said, “You know, during the day, I am Brisa. Like the sea breeze that goes from here to there moved by the wind. But during the night everyone knows me as the BIRTHDAY GIRL. Because I have a birthday every day and I celebrate it with everyone who wants to enjoy my company and savor the perfume of my body.”
All the women started laughing again. Then Thelma, taking Elida’s hands, brought her closer to the front of the water, saying in a loud voice, “Listen everyone, we have to baptize the new one”. And all at the same time, they began to throw water at her with their water bowls. Then Thelma took Elida to Brisa’s room. There she was given a white dress printed with large yellow sunflowers. They combed her hair and briefly taught her how to put on her makeup. It seemed that Elida was quickly forgetting the nightmare she had experienced the night before at her sister’s house. Since she was among these women, she felt protected and happy.
Brisa gave her a perfume saying, “With this perfume you will leave a pleasant aroma wherever you walk, so you will get many men and earn a lot of money every night.” Thelma added, “Hey girl, you’re very pretty. So, you have to take advantage of your youth and beauty. Since from what I see, it is the only thing you have in this life. You know, Dina has a way of making men think they’re with her for the first time, even though she sleeps with five or ten men every night.”
“And everyone believes it,” Brisa said with a laugh as she applauded loudly. Suddenly, Brisa remained silent, as if pausing while she thought, then she continued speaking, “You know, girl, I like you. Dina owes me money, so I’m going to tell her to teach you her secret of how to be a virgin every time you sleep with a man. And so, you are going to earn a lot of money, so you’re going to pay me the money that Dina owes me.”
Elida listened in silence, without saying a word. Since, inside her body, her heart was beating desperately. Pumping the blood from all her organs with her strength, as if trying to eliminate all thoughts that would take her back to the past and rearranging her senses to a new life. Totally different from what Elida would have imagined facing or dreamed of finding in her future. Suddenly her heart normalized, the tender and innocent look in her eyes changed, the smile on her face turned mischievous and standing up in front of the mirror, she observed that she really was very beautiful.
Then with a strong and indefinite tone she told the women who were with her, “None of you have asked me what my name is. I think it’s better that you don’t know, because my name ties me to my past and my past hasn’t been good, so I have to forget it. And as Thelma said my youth and beauty is the only thing I have. So, from today I’m going to get a lot out of it. From today, you can call me THE DOLL! your new partner in this cleaning job.”
At that moment the conversation of the women was interrupted by the shouts of Dina, who with great Joy repeated, “Women, women, in two days they are coming to look for girls who want to work in Guatemala. Remember, that I already went to work there and that I came back with a lot of money.”
Disconcerted, the Doll asked, “Who comes looking for girls to work in Guatemala?”
As if it were a musical chorus, Thelma, Brisa, and Dina responded at the same time, “THOSE OF THE HAPPY BOY!”
TO BE CONTINUED….
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