*The following was written a little under a year ago*
November 13, 2009.
My recent enrollment in the little Christian school had yielded an invitation to a young womens’ event, a dinner. The title of the evening was, “Hijas del Rey”, or “Daughters of the King”, and I didn’t know what to wear, what to expect, or what we would be doing. I had attended school all of three times so far, and had a handful of aquiantances and no friends.
At home, I put on my swishy purple skirt and a black top; comfort clothes. I ate three meatballs then followed my father down the red tile walkway and into the car. At the big, cream-colored church, he walked me up to the kitchen, where the event would be held, kissed my head, and abandoned me.
I was on time, also known as half an hour early. Two of my classmate, Noemi and Mariana, both well-dressed 14-year-olds, handed me a program and kindly and energetically directed me to a neatly-decorated round table close to the back of the room. I sat down at the empty table, tears of panic and loneliness building behind my eyes. My pounding heart calmed a bit when first my teacher than a small girl of 12 approached me to make small talk.
I relaxed a little more when the program finally started. I found peace and comfort in following the pre-determined order of events. One of the first thing we did was play a series of games. We were split into teams based on a number found on our programs, and soon even the older women were yelling their support.
One of the loud, fast-paced games we played involved making a dress for a member of our team, using large pieces of paper and a stapler. My team selected to clothe our smallest member, and we set about swathing the grinning child in pink paper. She had dimples and they danced across her face as our team yelled and stapled.
I had no way of knowing it was Julia.
After the games, we sat down at our tables. I took a seat with my team in the front now, and proceeded to enjoy an “especial” performed by Alejandra, followed by a talk by Hermana Karen, the pastor’s wife.
To illustrate her points, Hermana Karen had several girls come forward and either read verses or hold up papers with various virtues displayed by a Daughter of the King written on them. One girl, who I guessed to be about 16, was selected to stand on a chair, demonstrating how a Christian stands on the Word of God. She was taller than me when standing on the ground, and she towered above us on the chair. She was thin, and had pokey, swinging movements as a result of being so tall.
I didn’t know that it was Maria Grey.
While the tall girl balanced on the folding chair, my eyes fell on a younger girl sitting at the next table. She had an angular face, with a square chin and high cheek bones. Her bangs and short, even, hair framed bright eyes that contained sharp intelligence and intense awareness.
I didn’t know it was Yaneli.
At the table behind mine, two girls from my class split their attention between the ring of friends around them, and the plates of food in front of them. I recognized them- one with a round face, and the other smaller and more delicate, but I did not know their names.
I didn’t know yet that they were Rubí and Perla.
Across from me at my own table sat a beautiful girl whose age I could not guess, although I supposed her to be a year or two older than myself. She made easy conversation with Hermana Karen, who seemed to be interviewing us older girls about our plans for the future. I watched her dimples flash across her face as the girl spoke animatedly about her interest in painting, and her desire to study in the university.
How could I know that it was Kenia?
But I know now.