Anything to Hide a Face

Santana sits and watches the river run while the neverending noise names her background its property. She is still pretty enough. Santana watches the river run and notices it only flows downhill. Santana was brought here by the Big Office types who told her she’d someday bring down the house. Santana told them not to tell her anything they didn’t mean but they told Santana the things anyway. She was only a child when they told her -- the things -- and she believed them as children believe in most things that sound like they ought to be believed. Santana saw childhood as a summer that never stopped. Santana saw and was sunshine. She used to say things like “I wonder” and “why?” and now only asks “I wonder why?”

Santana made it in on a Sunday. She set up her room and saw it to be good. Santana set up her room to remind her of things that spell summer. Santana’s room could have been singled out in a line of many rooms and they would have said that “that one belongs to Santana.” Santana would have smiled. She would have seen the thing as one of those things about life that is sappy and seems too easy, seems too right. Santana made the sinkers slide their eyes her way when she walked into the room. She used to really rouse them. She used to sing and swing her hips and have a good enough time for everyone. She used to know her name really well. Santana said that life could not get any better and knew it would be true. Santana sits now and lights a Cowboy Killer.

Santana talks to Daddy and tells him everything is okay. Daddy is definitely skeptical. Santana tells Daddy that they ought to slide out of town and go somewhere warmer before the real rich stuff comes down. Daddy doesn’t think Santana is seeing things clearly. Daddy said that there ain’t nowhere to go when you know what you are and that any attempt to escape would be enough to really end them both. He says that the best bet is to bunker down and just take it, manage it, learn how to see it through. Santana rips another Red and bites down on her bitter tongue. Daddy tells her to point in the direction she pleases to point in and she points down south. “Don’t you know there’s trouble down south?” He asks her. Santana tells Daddy she didn’t know. Santana points to the west and Daddy says “hell,

there’s plenty trouble waitin’ out west” so Santana sets her sights north. “Up north there’s nothing but trouble.” Daddy declares. Santana hasn’t heard a hell of a lot about the east but she figures if it’s the only place that’s without trouble then it’s worth a proper probe. But Daddy tells her that in the east, there’s more trouble than ever.

Santana sniffs, then snorts, then spits into the black sidewalk beneath her. “Well,” she questions Daddy, “where the hell can I go to escape a place like this?” The question falls on Daddy’s deaf ears, so Santana speaks again. “I ain’t gonna stay here, ain’t nothing but trouble here.” Daddy spits on the ground, and tells her that she’s right. “Well then where do you go if there’s only trouble everywhere?” Santana asks. “I don’t know a place you can go.” He says. “Well I’m not going to stay here.” “I know,” he says “but you probably should.”

The river runs over the rocks, never stopping. The river is as black as the night and as cold as death. “I bet that river could take me anywhere I asked it to.” Santana says. Daddy looks at the river and spits at it, but doesn’t quite make it. “That’s not true,” he said, “That river would take you somewhere you don’t want to go.” Santana spits at the river too. “I don’t think you know what you’re talking about,” she says, “I don’t think you ever have.” Daddy smiles at Santana. “Then why the fuck don’t you go find out for yourself?”

Santana doesn’t know what to say to Daddy so she says nothing at all. The river runs right under her nose and it smells awful. It doesn’t smell like a river should smell, but has all the smells that a river should never smell like. She sits and tries to ignore Daddy’s stare. Of all the things he’s ever said to Santana, that thing was the most true. Santana sits and watches the river run while the noise winds down for the night. She never did bring down the house.

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