Chapter 1-Carmen (June 8)

A beam from the setting sun passed through the bedroom window, spotlighting a black and midnight blue tangle resting on Carmen’s sheets— rough edges and fuzz. She dropped the bed sheet she’d been straightening. She stepped back, gasping, and stared at it from a few feet. It had to be Euathlus pulcherrimaklaasi, a Blue Femur Beauty Tarantula from the Andes, like those she’d captured and dissected as part of her research project in university. She studied it. It was fabric, it was... She leaned over and picked it up, pinching it between her thumb and forefinger like a dead insect. A tiny tag inside, almost microscopic, claimed this piece of size eight lingerie was “hecho en Peru.

A few blocks from her two-flat, Chicago’s blue line train passed underground, rattling the ground like a weak tremor. Cars whizzed by, through the heart of Logan Square, on the way to Kedzie Avenue where they moved inches at a time between idling in place. Carmen stood in her bedroom, deaf to sounds, numb to the vibrations, holding another woman’s lingerie. She dropped them on the bed again.

Carmen closed her eyes and clenched her jaw until it hurt. She only knew one person who traveled back to Peru for custom-made lingerie. All she could see was Diana’s made-up face. An idling car across from her two-flat honked, breaking her concentration. Tires squealed and birds sang, landing on her bird feeder outside the window. Finally, she heard it all.

Diana had been her good friend, her comadre, a godmother to Ximena, Carmen’s fourteen year old daughter. Why hadn’t Carmen listened to her sister, Bere, her friend, Estela, and even her own mother? Everyone knew what kind of woman Diana was, but Carmen had befriended and loved her anyway. Why? Because of nostalgia, homesickness for Peru that carved a hole in her heart--and Diana filled it back up.

She attached herself to the one person besides her family who understood.