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A Problem Like Maria

Prologue

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A Problem Like Maria
by Lar

 
     

Chapter One

"Wait, before we go in, I wanna say something. Call me Maria still." I say.

"I donít understand, you just told us you were Paloma." Julie replied, pausing in the entrance.

"No, when I left Harmony, I became Maria Fitzgerald, I left the ĎPalomaí and ĎLopezí part of me here. Iím Maria. If you guys start calling me Paloma, not only will it bring back terrible memories, but someone might recognize the name." I answer.

"Maria-"

"No Jess. I donít want to face my past, itís just better this way. Please do it, for me." I beg. Jess looks at me, disappointment in her eyes, but finally relents. "The woman working at the counter is Beth, she used to be my brotherís girlfriend, probably still is. Can you get me my coffee while I wait over there?" I ask, pointing to a couch in the center of the room.

"Sure honey. No problem." Julie smiled. She pats my arm before turning and walking to the counter. Jess reluctantly follows her, and I head over to the couch. Sinking down so only my head is showing, I think of my last day in Harmony. It was hot and muggy. The sky was overcast, and it described my mood at the time. I was clouded over, unaware of anything. I mindlessly walked onto the plane, and flied away into the haze. I can feel the tears coming to my eyes as I relive that day, and gently wipe at my face.

A magazine on the coffee table in front of me catches my eye, and I pick it up. Across the cover was printed in bold type "ETHAN CRANE SAM BENNETTíS SON!" I glance down at the pictures, and gasps as I see some of my family in the background. A tall dark man standing next to a pretty blonde draws my attention first, and I assume itís Luis. He looks so similar to father.

In a picture next to it is the man I presume to be Ethan Crane, with a woman strikingly similar to myself. The captions says itís Ethan Craneís fiancée, Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald. I wonder how Luis feels about that, his baby sister marrying into the family he holds responsible for fatherís disappearance.

Below that picture is one of another blonde woman holding her hand over her mouth, and in the background I can barely make out my mother. She looks almost exactly the same as I last remember her, except now she was older, and looking a little more tired.

"Theresa! Yo Theresa!" An obviously black man calls out. I resist the urge to turn around, and get a look at what I suppose would be my sister. "Theresa, girl?" A hand touches my shoulder and I turn to face the man.

"Iím sorry, but Iím not Theresa." I calmly reply.

"Iím sorry too. I just thought, well you look a lot likes my friend Theresa. You any family to her?" He asks, and I look at him doubtfully.

"No, afraid not. I donít know of anyone named Theresa." I say. Jess and Julie walk towards me, and I give them a Ďplay it coolí look as they sit down.

"Are you sure? You look like her only older or something." The man remarks again.

I turn around and look back at him, "No. Iím not."

"Are you sure Paloma?" A new voice asks. I turn to my right and see a pale white male. At about 5í10" he stood, his deep brown eyes piercing mine. Immediately I recognize my brotherís best friend, Hank Bennett. He had changed little in the past eight years, just slightly gotten older, and handsomer.

"Iím sorry sir, weíre you talking to me?" I ask, recovering myself and feigning stupidity.

"Yes Paloma. I was."

"My nameís not Pal..Pal-oma. Itís Maria Fitzgerald, pleased to meet you." I say, extending a hand to him.

"Fitzgerald, you wouldíve thought youíd do better than that Paloma, you always were a smart kid." Hank replies.

"No sir, thatís my stage name. Iím not really from Irish decent. Iím Italian. My real name is Maria Debergetti. Itís a little difficult to put on the playbill for ĎThe West Side Storyí." I smile weakly.

"Maria, weíre gonna go wait for you in the car." Julie says, getting up from her seat. Jess copies her behavior.

"Iíll be out in a few minutes. I just wanna get a coffee to go." I call out. Damn them for leaving me here alone, I think. "If youíll excuse me." I politely say, getting up and walking to the counter. Hank places his hand on my arm, and I turn to face him.

"I know itís you Paloma. You look almost exactly the same as you did all those years ago. Why are you putting up this act?"

"I donít know what youíre talking about. Iíve explained it to you." I say directly to him. Glancing up at the long line in front of me, I realize that if I wait for coffee, Iíd have to wait with him. "Screw the coffee. Um, good-bye sir." I say to Hank, and walk towards the door.

The cold night air hits my face, and subconsciously I pull my jacket up around my chin. My pace quickens as I here the door to the coffee shop shut. I know heís behind me, I can just sense it. Turning quickly to glance at him, I crash into another person, and look up into the older, more defined face, of my brother, Luis.

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