The Wall of Winnipeg and Me(15)


by Mariana Zapata

I cleared my throat, telling myself I didn’t need to count to ten, or even five. “Where?” My voice came out in a slight croak.

“In El Paso yesterday. He was visiting his in-laws this weekend with Louie and Josh, and said he saw her at the grocery store by the old neighborhood.”

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.

Nope. That wasn’t enough.

I had to start counting all over again, all the way to ten the second time. A thousand different thoughts went through my head at the mention of Susie’s name, and they were all pretty terrible. Each and every single one of them. It didn’t take a genius to know what she was doing in the old neighborhood. Only one person who we both knew still lived there. I could still remember our old stomping ground so clearly.

It was where Diana and I had met. Back when I lived with my mom, Diana’s family had lived next door to us. They’d had the pretty house—the freshly painted blue one with white trim and a nice lawn—the dad who played with his kids outside, and the mom who kissed boo-boos. The Casillas were the family I had always wanted when I’d been a kid, when things had been at their worst, and the only thing I found consolation in was my notebook, not the mess within the walls of my house.

Diana had been my best friend for as long as I could remember. I couldn’t count the number of times I’d eaten over at their house with my little brother until Mom had lost custody of us. Diana had always done what my own family didn’t, and that was watch out for me. She was the one who had found me—Stop it. Stop it. It wasn’t worth the energy it took to think about things in the past I was over. It really wasn’t.

“Huh. I had no idea she was back.” My voice sounded just as robotic aloud as it sounded in my head. “I just talked to my mom a week ago and she didn’t say anything.” Diana knew I was referring to my real mom, the person who had actually given birth to me and my four other siblings, not my foster mom of four years who I still kept in touch with.

At the mention of my birth mom, Diana made a small noise I almost missed. I knew she didn’t understand why I bothered trying to have a relationship with her. Honestly, half the time I regretted it, but that was one of those rare things I never told the person I was closest to in the world because I knew what she would say and I didn’t want to hear it.

“I figured you would want to know in case you were planning on visiting,” she finally said in kind of a mutter.

I didn’t visit El Paso often, but she was right. I definitely wouldn’t want to go now that I knew who was there.

“I really have to go in a sec, Vanny,” my best friend quickly added before I could say anything. “But did you tell Miranda you’re leaving?”

The ‘Miranda’ went in one ear and out the other. I’d been calling him that for so long, it sounded so natural it didn’t even register. “I just told him yesterday.”

“And?”

She couldn’t just let me sulk in my reality. “Nothing.” There was no point in lying or making something up that would make me seem more important to Aiden than I was. While I didn’t tell anyone a whole lot about him because of the non-disclosure agreement I signed when I first started working for him, Diana knew enough to get why his name was saved on my personal phone under Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada.

“Oh,” was her disappointed response.

Yeah. I thought so too.

“He’ll miss you once you’re gone. Don’t worry about it.”

I highly doubted that.

“Okay, I gotta go, my client is here. Call me later, Van-Van. I get off work at nine.”