Breathing deeply, I head into Lighthouse Park and walk
towards the swings. They sat on the top of the hill, allowing them to be seen from all points of the park. Sighing
I sit down and start rocking back and forth.
It wasn’t like I had purposely planned to come back. It just happened, and I never even expected the pain. The
pain of being in the same place my estranged family is. Being in the park that shared one of the worst times of
my life. With the moon shining down, it made the June air cool and crisp, just like the night my life changed
Letting a tear escape my eye, I quickly remand myself, and composed my attitude. I glanced down at my watch, and
breathed out heavily when I realized Hank would be here in a few moments.
Why had I said his name? I could’ve kept on acting. Eventually he would’ve given up. No, that’s not true. I know
Hank, he’s persistent. He wouldn’t give up until I produced some hard evidence that I was really Maria Fitzgerald,
my legal name now. But that wouldn’t be enough. I’d have to show him pictures of my parents, actually let him meet
them, confirm I was of Italian decent. And I couldn’t do that. I just didn’t have the time, patients, or resources
to do that.
"So Paloma, you’re actually punctual. That’s a first, or did the stage teach you that." He scoffed as
he approached me.
"Hank, so nice of you to join me." I sarcastically reply as he walks around from behind me and stands
in front of me. His navy blue jacket extends slightly below his waist, and faded blue jeans cover his legs.
"I wouldn’t deny a beautiful friend of mine a request. So tell me, why are we meeting at Lighthouse Park in
the middle of the night?" He inquires, stepping forward and sitting on the swing next to mine.
"You know here was the place Luis caught me." I sneer. He gives me a puzzled look and I remark, "Oh
come on Hank. Use that brain of yours, you know why I was sent outta town."
"Oh that!" Hank shakes his head, and I scowl at him.
"Yes, that. I wasn’t planning on returning. It just happened. That damn hurricane had to cause storms up the
eastern seaboard. We were on route to Chicago, our company is opening tomorrow."
"What company?" Hank asks, the puzzled look reappearing on his face.
" ‘West Side Story’. I play Maria. The Hispanic lead." I roll my eyes.
"Oh. Sorry." He shrugs.
"Anyway, I’ll be leaving within days, and I don’t want anyone to know I was here. I’m not Paloma anymore.
She doesn’t exist." I say sadly, realizing how true the words were.
"You don’t want your family to know you’re here? Why not? They love you."
"Yeah. They love me so much that in my time of great confusion, they sent me away instead of help me. They
love me so much that they never call or write me! They love me so much that they fail to inform me that my sister
is getting married! That’s real love for you!" I state, letting the tears flow freely.
"Please say you understand. I haven’t really had real family love from them. They abandoned me. Please, I
beg you not to say anything."
"But what about Miguel and Theresa? They didn’t do anything." Hank asks.
"No, but if I see them I’ll have to see them all, and I just can’t handle that. They wouldn’t know me on the
street, like Luis didn’t. It’s for the best.
"I know you’re Luis’ friend, but please understand my feelings, and just pretend you never saw me. Please."
I look at him and see some compassion in his eyes.
"Alright. I won’t say anything. I promise. But if they mention something about seeing you in town, I’m not
going to deny it’s you. I know you think this is best, but trust me, they still love you."
"If they do they’ve got a strange way of showing it." I state, standing up from the swing and facing
him. He stands too, and our eyes connect. "Thank you for meeting me."
"Take care of yourself kid. Maybe we’ll see each other again." He says, before pushing the swing to the
right and walking past it. Sighing, I turn in the opposite direction and head towards my car.
"Well, how’d it go?" Julie immediately asks as soon as I entered.
"Well, with a bit of over-dramatization, he understands my point. He won’t go blabbing." I reply, throwing
my jacket onto a standard hotel chair and flopping down on the bed opposite Julie.
"Over-dramatizing again. I thought we taught you that was bad." Jess comments, coming out of the bathroom
towel drying her hair.
"Yeah, well, I was going for that ‘poor me’ affect. I couldn’t help it. Old habits die hard."
"So you weren’t sincere about anything?" Julie asks.
"On the contrary, I was brutally honest about almost everything. I just chalked up the tears. You know how
that works on guys." I reply, rolling off my belly and propping the pillows against the wall.
"Well, are you proud of yourself?" Jess sternly asks.
"While it wasn’t my best performance, I’d give it an eight. A mix of emotions, the right setting, a good back
story. Yep, an eight." I chuckle.
"You know that’s not what I mean. Maria, you can’t run from your past. Maybe us being stranded here was an
omen?" Jess comments.
"Oh not again with the omen talks. It meant nothing. It was a storm. Not an omen, not fate, nothing but a
storm. It has no significant meaning!" I roll my eyes as she moves to the chair with my jacket draped over
"Don’t you ever wonder? I mean, like what it would be like to talk to them? Maybe they’ve changed. You said
yourself that your brother was just a year outta high school."
"No Julie. It’s more than that. You’re family was their when you went through your ups and downs. I had no
one, except my aunt who was more interested in her own kids. And I don’t blame her, I wasn’t her child, I was dumped
on her. No, they made their decision. I’ve made my mine."
"And there’s nothing we can do to change it?" Jess sighed.
"Not unless you can turn back time."