The key to making art is to make art and not care where it goes and whether anyone cares.
I decided to participate in the National Novel-Writing Month thing to write a novel in a utilitarian style with a bit less concern about the outcome. It's output, not outcome that matters, no?
the edge of the river, a novel by Odilia Rivera-Santos
The sun came in through the window so bright that it reminded me of where I was. The tropics again to go to another funeral again and sort through mildewed family albums and sip coffee in a living room where I seemed to be the only one sweating profusely, no longer accustomed to the heat and lethargy of a small country town. The usual gang showed up: curious neighbors who rarely talked beyond a simple greeting on the day of my arrival and the chitchat reserved to speak of the dead. They always had the same wistful delivery and the same focus on what the dead had left undone and what they had wanted to accomplish. I ate the salty crackers with fresh butter and took another sip of milky espresso with too much sugar and kept tapping my foot to a nonexistent tune, praying everyone would just shut up and pray. A Puerto Rican wake is not as much fun as an Irish wake -- the Irish celebrate and are less morose. No one was dancing and I alone attempted to stem the tide of misery that welled up with every word. He is deceased, I thought to myself, and he no longer suffers or dreams or wants, and isn't it a shame only death can bring such bliss. Why couldn't God empty us of all those desires which twist our lives in knots.
I only showed up in the hopes of meeting the third María, because there was nothing of me in this tribe anymore. If one could say it is possible to outgrow a family, I could definitely have said it with eyes closed, falling back while playing the trust game with the universe. And the universe would have answered my call more logically than blood relatives. No more guava slices or white cheese or salty crackers. The heat was starting to get to me and here it was only eight hours since my arrival. I'd only had time to shower, take a short nightmare-laced nap and awake again to shower with the metal slats of the window open to the backyard and the chickens' squawk and curious eyes of the cow from next door. It was a kind of home, but not mine. The third María was the one who we always waited for at these gatherings and who never showed up. I was convinced, sitting there in my plain black dress with matching plain black heels and facial expression, that she would show -- it was only fair for at least two of the three Marías to show up at their father's funeral.