She was sitting on my bed laughing with my sisters. It felt good to see my sisters laughing.

It was coated with a thick accent, but her English was very good. "And I was going to get on the plane, but then I saw him, he was standing there with flowers, and he said, oh Laura, don't go to America. I want to marry you. But of course, I am here, so you know what happened."

"Oh my gosh!" my sisters shrieked. "I can't believe that!"

A totally normal moment was happening in my bedroom. And I was kind of part of it, standing in front of the mirror, getting ready for the New Year's Eve dance.

Everyone knew that I was fragile and broken except Laura, and so I acted normal for her. I hadn't let on since she got here that I was actually wretched and going to hell. She didn't have to know, because she would go back to Mexico soon.

Until then we would keep going to the movies, shopping, out to lunch. I would even initiate some of it. With Laura I pretended like everything was okay. I told her stories from my high school and college days like they were still mine to tell.


Two weeks earlier, Mom had stood in my doorway.

"Gary Thornley was wondering if you could pick up a girl from Mexico staying with them and take her to church with you."

This was random. Gary, in his late sixties, was a great guy who directed the choir at church. I had sung in several of his Christmas choirs, but that had been the extent of our interaction. It was that dang good girl reputation I had. Honestly, if people knew who I really was inside, they wouldn't trust me to do things like this.

But she was from Mexico. 

She spoke Spanish. 

I had minored in Spanish. The desire had hit me my freshman year to learn another language while I was in college and had the chance. I had a phenomenally passionate Spanish professor who warned us that he would no longer speak English to us after the first day.

During this time, my boyfriend's brother married a darling girl from Chile. I met her just days after she moved to the United States. She knew no English, but wanted to. One day I just showed up on her doorstep with my limited Spanish. Our conversations started out very basic, but over time not only did our proficiency in each others' languages grow, but a special friendship as well. We used to meet up several afternoons a week. I hadn't seen her in months now. Not because she was connected to my ex-fiance, but because I couldn't bear her to see me like this. 

This girl from Mexico wouldn't know anything about my past. And we could speak Spanish together. I felt a glimmer of excitement.  

"Sure," I said.


Laura cared about her appearance. Every time she emerged from the Thornley's basement where she stayed, she had done something extraordinarily cute with her hair. And she was always wearing a scarf or a dangling pair of earrings. It had been months since I had purchased anything new and fun to wear. She reminded me of why I used to like to.

Laura loved shopping. She knew exactly what she was after at the mall and would go from store to store til she found it. 

Laura loved dancing. She had belonged to a folklorico dance team at her school back in Mexico. She showed me pictures of the elaborate, gorgeous costuming, striking poses with handsome dance partners. 

Laura loved her family. Our outings or afternoons and evenings spent at the Thornley's home were interspersed with conversations online and by phone with her mom, sisters, and cousins. They talked so much I felt like I knew them.

Laura liked boys. A lot. And she didn't waste any time here. I don't even remember how she met Joe, but he had a friend and we doubled.  

Laura loved music and movies and restaurants. 

Laura was not consumed with the idea that she was going to hell. Because she wasn't.

In fact, as deeply ingrained as it was, this whole "going to hell" complex I had was seriously abnormal.  The more time we spent doing fun things day after day, the more I started to realize it.

Maybe I wasn't going to hell either.


One frigid January morning, it was time to say goodbye. Laura gave me a letter she had written the night before. We embraced. 

"You have to come to Mexico," she said. 

I had never been there before, but from the images I'd seen in magazines and movies, I formed a scene in my mind. In it we were doing all the same things we'd done here, but in Mexico.

"I want to. I will see if I can."

For the first time in months I meant what I said.

Next Chapter: Lies Fed to a Depressed Mind