Arts & Entertainment Fiction Narrative

Published on

By Mia Herrera

The matriarch of the Rios family, Azucena, often thought about all the decisions she had ever made in her life. Quitting her first job, marrying Pedro, adopting Dayana, training Dayana, letting Dayana join the military, refusing command of their nation, watching Dayana come into power, and not doing anything.
Azucena stared at the family portrait of her family with a heavy heart and tears welling up in her eyes. She studied their smiling faces and searched their eyes for any sign of what was to come. Azucena stood beside her husband, Pedro, he held her by the waist and was flashing his teeth at the camera. Chris and Jonathan were on each side of their parents, smiling brightly. Dayana was crouching beneath Azucena and Pedro, hand grasping Renzo, both their smiles curving up to meet their eyes. Had they known them?
They had taken the picture three years ago. Before the Queen of Lima’s death, before Dayana had left to conquer the nation. It was the last photo they had taken as a family.
Azucena softly rose from the bed and padded over to her safe, hidden in the connected bathroom. She typed in the four digits 1112 quickly, she didn’t have to look at the digits anymore. She grabbed the manila envelope and weighed it in her hand. The familiar weight was comfort to her. She slowly and methodically took out the contents of the envelope. She laid them out on the bathroom floor in a semicircle in front of her and studied everything. Dayana’s adoption papers, her baby pictures, her school certificates, her medal of valor, and all the letters she sent to Dayana, all unopened and still sealed.
Azucena reached for the photos and clutched them to her heart, her fingers dug into her chest, the pain causing tears to brim her eyes. She held them out and began a stroll down memory lane.
Dayana as a toddler, fingers permanently sticky, wrapped around a lollipop, smile lopsided showing missing front teeth. She was such a sweet little girl, Azucena thought to herself. A variety of photos of Dayana in her toddler years. Swimming, at the trampoline park, in her pajamas, with Dara, with her brothers, in their first house, at the zoo, at the beach, laughing, on her birthday. Azucena lets the tears flow freely down her face. Her little girl, her only daughter, was lost.
The sound of feet running up the stairs startled her. In a practiced manner, she raked the photos together, shuffled the papers, locked the safe, and turned on the sink.
“Mom?” Chris asked as he knocked on her bedroom door. He had the newspaper tightly clenched in his other hand, ready to show his mother.
“I’m coming, honey,” Azucena called from inside the bathroom, she shut the water off and spared a look back at the hidden safe. All she had left of Dayana was in there, hidden inside the wall. She turned the lights off and entered the darkness of her room.

The Great Uniter, Dayana, had been dreading her birthday all year. Her mother was the only one who knew how to handle the day. She had told Renzo they should just treat it as any other day. But, his silly smile told her he wouldn’t listen. 

As she walked up the stairs to their apartment, she mentally prepared herself for what was awaiting her. Renzo had left the office early with a flimsy excuse of having to pick up groceries. But, Dayana knew better.
She held her breath as she slowly opened the door into the darkness. Almost instantly, Renzo and others jumped up from behind furniture and yelled, “surprise.” Dayana plastered a fake smile on her face and feigned surprise.
“Oh my gosh, you got me,” she said in her politician voice, heading to greet the guests, a mixture of soldiers and subordinates.
While Renzo ushered the guests around showing them the apartment, Dayana managed to sneak away from prying eyes and escaped into her study. She searched in the dark for her glasses on her desk and hit the lamp switch on once she was seated.
Her eyes found the pile of mail on the couch cushion. She hurried over, she had been awaiting an update on prince Alois.
A magazine, bills, a newspaper, and garbage. Before she began to read the newspaper she found a plain envelope with no return address. She knew it was Azucena. Dayana opened her drawer and retrieved her steamer. She quickly managed the envelope open with no signs of tear.
Dear mija,
Happy Birthday! I hope you are having a great day. Your father and I miss you dearly. I wish I could spend the day with you and see you again. I know things are so different now. But, I love you and miss you. Dara and your brother miss you too. They are just struggling with all the news we hear about your campaign.
Dayana, I hope you have a good day. Remember when you were younger I would take you to the zoo and we would spend the entire day in the butterfly room. I miss you so much. Please come home soon.
Sincerely, your mother, Azucena Rios
P.S. Send my love to Renzo
A wave of uneasiness overcame Dayana. She refused to linger and gave herself no time to process her sorrow. She folded the letter back up at the creases and carefully returned it inside the envelope. She hurriedly scribbled her mother’s home address on the envelope and added ‘return to sender.’ She would drop it off at the mailbox in the morning.
She reached for the neglected newspaper and was pleasantly surprised to find herself on the front page, ‘The Great Uniter, Dayana Rios, Establishes A New Order.’ She smiled to herself in pride. She would add it to the collection of newspapers dedicated to her accomplishments. She got up from her desk and found her box, she laid the newest one on top and highlighted the date, November 11, 2045.
As she walked to the door, she thought to herself that maybe this year would turn out to be a good birthday. But, she still would have preferred the butterfly room.