Category Archives: Rose Contreras

PAN Y LECHE (Bread and Milk) by Rose Contreras

They had retreated to opposite sides of the big house at the worst of
their fighting, and now it appeared they would be at opposite poles
forever. She was afraid to face him, afraid of more angry words, more of
the same hurt. She was even more terrified still of what would happen if
she didn’t do something to breach the distance between them. The
knowledge that their marriage was ending had not been instantaneous, but
instead was a feverish heat that had increased with every passing day of
their standoff. At last it had reached the critical point necessary to
melt away her pride. This feverish heat now settled deep in the pit of
her stomach, causing her to feel like doubling over, not in pain, but
with anxiety.

She didn’t bother with finding her slippers now. She took the short
staircase that led directly to the kitchen, afraid that the worst
deadline of her life had passed her by. The kitchen was so clean. They
never used it anymore. Further dread filled her when she realized that
she couldn’t even remember the last time she had been to the grocery
store. There was no real food in the pantry. She felt trapped by her own
failing, as though she had crossed a finish line in a race that had long
ago ended. She let herself down into the corner booth in the kitchen
that she had argued so valiantly for. She felt no victory as she sank
into the plush upholstery. Her head lowered slowly into the recess of
her arms and she began to cry. She cried for a long time, never lifting
her head from her arms on the table, mourning what was surely lost, and
angry that she had so readily given it up.

The back door opened abruptly and she jerked toward it in alarm. He
walked in carrying a plastic sack, the night sky diminishing as he
closed the door behind him. He walked across the long kitchen and met
her at the table. She stood and faced him, and their eyes locked, even
as he laid down the plastic sack.

“You need to blow your nose.” He reached for the paper towels and
handed her one. She turned her face away momentarily, a little ashamed
of her appearance. She took a deep breath and composed herself as best
she could.  Holding her breath, she turned back to look at him, and he
handed her the plastic sack. She looked into the sack, beginning to cry
again, but beginning to smile and to breathe again too.

She threw her arms around him and kissed him, laughing and crying,
clutching the bag in her hands like a lifeline, feeling his arms
encircling her in return.

“Hey, you’re squashing the bread!” he yelled, laughing and squeezing
her as hard as he could. He pulled away long enough to take the bag of
bread and milk from her hands and lay them on the table.

Rose Contreras lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband and two
kids.  Her favorite online hangouts are her Crimespace page
(http://crimespace.ning.com/profile/racontreras) and her MySpace page
(http://www.myspace.com/chachalinda6984).

The Celery Conclusion by Rose Contreras

It really wasn’t about the celery, Roger thought as he packed his bags. The celery merely proved his point. She put it in everything, even in the omelets. No matter how many times he asked her to stop using it, she kept on. Celery was the flavor of their life together, and as he packed his bags he saw a celery haze in the air that pervaded their home.
It really was amazing that they lasted as long as they did. Their life together had never really jelled despite seven years of marriage. It was not that they had stopped getting along. They still held the same views about life, money, politics. They were both straightforward people, no nonsense, and cut to the chase. Their life was vastly organized and quite comfortable to any outsider looking in, but even after their orderly marriage, they continued to build their lives apart from each other. Their individual lives had never intertwined, the edges of their being remaining solid and independent, with no blending or blurring of spirit over time. They remained two hard, straight stalks growing upward and never touching in the middle. When Roger contemplated their future together, he saw more of the same. Year upon year of the same life. Growing straight, upright, and apart. Rigid as the celery he hated so much.

Roger waited for a Friday evening to tell her he was moving out. There were never any messes in their life, and it seemed fitting to wrap things up at the end of a week. When he gave her the news he was surprised that she wanted to know why. She wanted a reason and he had difficulty getting the words out. After a very long pause of misty green silence, he plucked an argument out of the air and used the weight of his irritation to sound convincing.
“You put celery in the omelets last Sunday morning, and I realized then that you just don’t care about me and I wonder if you ever did.”
Her face was serene, and she had a tilt to the corner of her mouth that was more of a smile than not. Her calm demeanor irritated him and he was sure he saw a celery green tint to her face, more vivid in her eyes. He must be imagining it.

“I’ve been saying it for seven years how much I hate celery, and you go right on using it. My likes and dislikes just don’t matter to you. I don’t matter to you.” She never flinched, and her voice was even as she explained her rationale.

“Celery lowers the blood pressure Roger. It’s been proven scientifically. It has a chemical called 3nB. The father of a medical student ate a quarter pound of celery a day and his hypertension disappeared.”

“I have no problem with my blood pressure Tina, and neither do you.”
She nodded her head in agreement, and her look turned thoughtful yet distant. He realized she had always been distant, and he had accustomed himself to her crisp rigidity early in their relationship.

” I’m leaving now.” He held his shoulders back resolutely as he turned to leave. He tossed his key on the little entrance way table as he walked quickly to the door. The green mist seemed to fade as he walked closer to the door. He stopped and turned expectantly to face her.

She sounded amused as she spoke. “It really isn’t about the celery, is it Roger?” He knew it was the truth. They would not miss each other, and they would not feel any regret. He stepped out the front door and was immediately invigorated by the sight of the electric blue sky and the warmth of the sunny wind on his face. The celery was a ridiculous conclusion to their relationship, but it was better than none at all.

I am 42, a writer, and a communication specialist. I have been married for 23 years to my high school sweetheart, and I am mom to two wonderful teenagers. I have always loved to write. I am currently working on two books, one nonfiction, working title: Veiled Hearts, and one fiction book tentatively titled The Murder of Saint Charbel. I also expect to graduate in May 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Technical Communication from the University of Texas at San Antonio. You can keep update with my work and me at www.rosecontreras.com.