She laughed and returned to the wine.
Who worked for el diablo? I wondered. Mrs. Newell or Fani?
“I understand,” Señor Bovio began at dinner that night, “that you would like to spend a day with Fani? Go to her home?”
“Yes,” I said. I searched his face, looking for some sign of suspicion.
“Fani came to me to ask, and I sent her to see Mrs. Newell.”
“Mrs. Newell? Why, señor?”
“I trust her judgment with these things totally,” he said. “She would know if Fani would be good for you now or not. They spent quite a bit of time together,” he added. “Mrs. Newell made everything very clear to her, I’m sure.”
“What you should and should not eat, do, that sort of thing,” he said, waving his hand. “She is sufficiently comfortable with Fani and agrees that a change of scenery will probably do you good. However, she would like to speak with you, too, about it.”
Later that evening, she came to see me.
“I’m approving this trip,” she began.
I wanted to say that I was not in prison here, but I held my tongue. After all, I would see Edward.
“However, despite my talk with Estefani Cordova, I still have concerns. Most young women who aren’t pregnant and who’ve never been pregnant don’t appreciate your condition. I’m sure she’ll offer you things that will not be good for you.”
“I know what’s good for me and not by now, Mrs. Newell.” Thanks to you, I wanted to add, but I didn’t.
She just shook her head skeptically, but she didn’t stop her admonitions.
“If you drink alcohol, it will go directly to your baby. If you smoke or take anything in the way of drugs, you can damage your baby’s brain and nervous system.”
“I would never do any of that.”
“I bet you told yourself you would never be pregnant before you were married, too,” she replied, and left.
I swallowed back my rage, believing that was it. However, the day before I was to visit Fani, Mrs. Newell embarrassed me in front of Señor Bovio with what was surely the bottom of the barrel of warnings but was just as cutting.
“I’m sure there will be boys there. I know what happens when young women your age have such freedom. Don’t be surprised if you are in some bizarre way attractive to one of them. Look at your bosom. They’ll all want to put their hands on your abdomen to see if they can feel the baby’s movements, and that can lead to other things. You’re even more vulnerable now than you were. I know how much pregnant women want to be attractive to men,” she said, nodding to confirm her own statements. She always spoke as if what she said was gospel.
I glanced quickly at Señor Bovio, who wore an expression of fear. It was as if the scene she drew up were actually taking place right before his eyes. With all of these warnings and predictions of dire consequences, I couldn’t help but wonder why she had approved the trip at all. Perhaps Fani was better at convincing people, even people like Mrs. Newell.
“You don’t know me,” I said. “I’m not at all the kind of girl you are describing, Mrs. Newell.”
She blinked her smile and nodded at Señor Bovio before turning back to me.
“I know you. I know all of you.”
What a strange thing to say, I thought. Instead of driving me away from even the sight of her, however, my interest in her suddenly grew stronger. I couldn’t help wondering what had made this woman see the world only as a place for diseases and unhappiness. That afternoon, I cornered Teresa, who was vacuuming and dusting a guest room. My curiosity was at first about that.
“Is Señor Bovio expecting a guest?”
“I do not know, Delia. I was only told to get the room prepared, clean and polish and put fresh linen on the bed, restock the bathroom, and vacuum the carpet.”
I lingered. Finally, she realized I wanted more and stopped working when she saw I was waiting there.