Alejandro maela, p.1
Alejandro & Maela, page 1
Alejandro and Maela
Copyright 2012 AM Gray
Cover by V.Webster
Cover image of Old Havana is from
C Roman's Travel Website
The young girl stood behind the locked wrought iron gate. The heart-shaped pattern in the metal framed her visage perfectly. Her hands were lifted up next to her face. She was careful not to damage her newly manicured fingernails. Her eager eyes scanned the surroundings. Her heart leapt when she caught sight of him; her Alejandro. He stepped out of the shadows in the courtyard and placed his hands over hers on the gate.
“I missed you,” he said a low, eager voice at her.
“I missed you too,” she agreed. “I have seen you in the streets, but the car… they won’t stop.”
“He locks you in?” he sounded horrified.
“No, it’s not like that." She paused. "He has enemies.” She shook her head. “This is a different world.” She sounded sad about that.
He pressed his lips against hers through the heart shaped opening in the gate. It seemed appropriate somehow.
“I have something for you.” He passed her a small piece of card, slightly larger than a postcard. There was a painting on it; a watercolour of her old apartment building. She recognised it. The decaying verandas covered in drying laundry and the shutters hanging off their hinges. She knew he had done it for her.
“It will remind you of …” He paused, “…everything.”
“Yes it will,” she agreed as she slipped it into the pocket of her dress.
“Maela!” She heard the old maid call her name. “The car comes.”
“I have to go,” she told the love of her life. She kissed him again quickly. “Next week?” she asked eagerly.
“Yes,” he agreed.
She dashed back into the house through the servant’s quarters. The maid gave her the once over and announced that she was presentable. With a final neatening of her hair she went to the front door of the mansion to greet her husband. Her dress was expensive, her nails manicured, her hair conditioned at the salon every week. She was just as beautiful, but she had come a long way from the street child he had seen from his car that day.
All of that crossed his mind as he saw her waiting inside the foyer for him. He bent and kissed her cheek.
“Dinner will be served in half an hour,” she told him; the perfect hostess took his briefcase and placed it on the hall table. She preceded him to the lounge for a pre-dinner drink. He would not allow her to drink alcohol, she was still too young. She would be eighteen in six months' time.
She seemed sad to him today, but he did not ask.
At dinner she sat and observed her husband. He was in his mid-thirties but that seemed ancient to her. He was slim and he looked after himself physically; she supposed he was good looking. Roberto Agramonte was a wealthy business man; what his business was, she did not know. Something to do with sugar plantations and other things that earned him enemies. It was not hard to get enemies in Havana.
Her mind returned to that fateful day too. She had been going to meet Alejandro. Her family did not approve of him, he was involved in the street gangs and he carried a knife. She wore an old white dress of her mother’s; it fitted her perfectly. She carried her sun hat in her hand. It did not matter how often her mother scolded her for ruining her complexion, she preferred the sun on her face. It warmed her face as the thought of Alejandro warmed her heart. She was seventeen and in love. She was bulletproof.
In old Havana there were dozens of old buildings with internal courtyards, hidden from the street. She was meeting him in one of those. She had a spring in her step and her hair bounced as she walked, swinging the hat in her hand.
Roberto saw her from his air conditioned Mercedes. It had cost him a fortune to import it, but it gave him privacy and security; not like the yank tanks that still filled the streets after more than forty years. The car inched along, caught behind some old truck and a burro. The girl glowed in her white dress. She was beautiful and she touched something in his heart he thought was long dead.
He leaned forward and tapped the shoulder of his bodyguard.
“Find out the name of that girl and her address,” he ordered.
The bodyguard and the driver looked at each other; the padron had never taken any notice of a woman before. They talked among themselves in their quarters later. He did nothing with women, but he did nothing with men either. He held these extravagant parties at the house during which women vied for his attention and he ignored them all; he was the perfect host and he did not favour any.
The bodyguard loved to tell the story of the night he had got the closest to one of those untouchable women that he had ever got. He had held her arms as he frog marched her along and threw her out of the mansion. Evidently she had taken matters into her own hands; made a grab for the padron and he was less than amused. She had muttered that he must be gay because he did not react when she groped him, but the guard suspected it was really not his style to be so forward. She had got a reaction; it was just not quite the one she had hoped for.
Regardless, the woman had made a serious miscalculation; she was not invited again and nor was her husband. The gossip mill said that she would be divorced soon. Her stupid grope had cost her husband his business contacts; he was forgiving of her infidelities, but not of her mistakes.
The car returned to the same street later in the day and the bodyguard asked around. It didn’t take long to get the information the padron wanted. Alejandro saw them and he knew who they worked for. He started to worry. When he saw the distinctive car return the next day and the man in the elegant white linen suit exit and look up at the building before he entered, Alejandro really worried.
Roberto spoke to her parents; it was traditional. Her parents assured him that she was untouched, virginal. He gave them small gifts and they were impressed by him and his subtlety. They were imbued with an emotion they have not had for decades; hope. They say nothing to her. She heard of his visit but does not realize it involved her.
Maela met Alejandro that night and he scared her a little; he was so intense. He pressured her to have sex with him; but she was unsure. She asked him to give her a week. He knew her family did not approve of him, but he believed if they have sex, she will be ruined for the rich man and she will have to marry him. He cannot compete; he has her heart but he understood there was more at stake here.
He was frightened he will lose her.
Poor Alejandro is too slow. The next day her mother told her of the rich man’s interest in her. Maela has lived in the barrio her whole life; she knows what his offer means. Her parents are unable to hide their delight. The rich man does not want her as a toy; he wants to marry her. It is unheard of. They had many hopes for Maela; she is smart and she worked well at school, but this? They had never dreamed of this.
She cried that night but she made her decision. It was a sacrifice, but it would raise her whole family out of the gutter. She felt that she cannot say ‘no’.
The car came for her the next day. She wore the white dress by request and she held her mother’s hand tightly. She no longer cried. The elegant man took her hand to help her from the car and it was done. Servants collected her small suitcase.
The ceremony was arranged quickly. It was private and low key. He kissed her gently at the altar but then he lefts her alone. She had her own room; a whole room just to herself. It was the size of her parent’s whole apartment. They have moved out of the tenement and have a new home with a yard for her young siblings to play in. She can visit whenever she wants, provided that she goes in the car.
She sat at the salon and listened to the gossip. The women do not seem to care that she
Roberto heard her crying one night as he walked past her door. He tapped and entered, only after she granted permission.
“Maela what is wrong?” he asked gently. He was not angry, only concerned and she found herself showing him the picture of her old apartment. He recognized it and smiled. He had always been so kind and so gentle with her, and she did not want him to think he had made her unhappy.
“So many families shared that building and I miss them all,” she explained. “I miss the smell, the noise, the small dirty children playing in the street and the stray dogs.”
He chuckled. “I know,” he agreed. How could he know? “I always thought it was the same dog, or maybe the same two dogs. They all look alike.”
He held the now dog-eared card in his hand and so slowly, he started to speak. His building was just the same, he told her. She was dumbfounded. She had always thought he came from wealth. It sat so well on him. He told her his story. He was a self-made man; a street kid who had worked hard to get what he has. She sees within him a glimpse of that boy. Like Alejandro. He kissed her cheek and left her alone.
The next night he took her to dinner. She was surprised when the car stopped at a crumbling, three-story ruin on a rundown central city block. Roberto told her it was built in 1913 as the family home of a wealthy sugar baron. The mansion still had its marble staircases, stained-glass windows, Spanish tile floors and twenty five foot-high sculptured ceilings. The building now housed forty families. It smelt like home.
She wondered why they were here. He held her arm and they walked up the staircase to the third floor. A knock on an apartment door revealed a different world; a luxurious restaurant, with modern art on the walls and a gleaming kitchen. In a city where the only restaurants that most residents can afford are those serving scraps of pork on a plate of rice and beans, La Guarida served swordfish filet in a seafood sauce with pumpkin seeds. Roberto had the rabbit lasagne with a black olive parmentier.
She was touched by his gesture. It was like him; the contrast.
The next day at breakfast she asked him a question about the sugar industry. She had been reading the newspaper. He was surprised by her intelligence. He started to discuss his business with her. She had met his business associates and she had a sixth sense about people. He respected her opinion.
She realized this was unusual one day at the salon. The other women sleep in, in the mornings. They are not expected to do anything except look pretty. They complain about their husband’s affairs and mistresses. She suspected Roberto was a much better man than their husbands. She began to feel fortunate.
A week later he rushed from the car with a puppy in his arms. He saw it at the side of the road and made the driver stop. He paid too much for it from some street urchin he was not sure even owned the dog. She laughed as she hugged it to her chest. He smiled as he watched her with it.
She still met Alejandro at the gate every week, but she started to feel guilty.
She called the puppy Diego and he followed her everywhere.
The next time she met Alejandro she was distant. He tried to remind her of what they had. She pointed out the past tense to him. He insisted they must continue to meet. She felt it was hopeless.
Another night Roberto gave her a bunch of mismatched flowers he had picked from the side of the road. She kissed him.
The old maid told her the driver and bodyguard thought it was hilarious; watching the padron pick wildflowers. Maela’s heart surged at the thought that he did that for her; he could have bought them from some expensive florist and they would have meant nothing. She placed them in a vase in her room. She touched one of the blooms and she thought.
The next time she met Alejandro she was rude to him. She told him he reminded her of her puppy following after her. He refused to give her up. It was hopeless and cannot continue she told him. He begged. She knew it must end. She was hard and cruel; she must be. She told him she was married and he was beneath her now. He was shocked, then angry. She finally saw some of what frightened her parents about him. He had lost and he was not polite. She stood safely behind the locked gate and let him rail at her. She felt that she owed him that.
He spat at her.
She cried after he had left. She sat at the kitchen table and the old maid told her she had done the right thing. She washed her face and went to meet her husband at the door.
The next night she knocked on his bedroom door. He opened it and was surprised to see her. He wore long sleep trousers and his chest was bare. She placed her hand on the skin over his heart and she kissed him. He shut the door behind her.
She was eighteen that day.
About the Author
I feel I should be witty and informative about how many children and household pets I have. But really, the chickens lay eggs and I am yet to see what use the teenagers are. They eat the eggs, I suppose. I love writing. I also read a lot and play my music loud... really loud. I started writing fanfiction as mrstrentreznor and discovered that my head had many more stories in it than the ones that I chose to correct. I choose to share them with you now.
Connect with me online:
by A.M. Gray / Literature & Fiction / Short Stories / Poetry have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on20 votes