National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version


Document Type



Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, Vol. I, pp 28-35.


Copyright 2016 by the author.


All went as it had for fifteen years in the Rivera González household until the day Matilde saw José Juan coming home from school with vomit on his lips, his skin so pale she thought he was a ghost. Matilde hesitated, but decided to open the door after concluding that, if that pallid personage who resembled her aunt Catalina—God bless her soul—was a messenger of death, she wouldn’t put up resistance. She was ready to bid farewell.

No one had seen her so determined since she yelled at her husband in the consulting room of Dr. Guardado demanding that they perform a caesarean section because suffering didn’t suit her. What embarrassment José Ignacio felt passing through the waiting room where other patients and families pretended not to hear anything, hiding behind gossip magazines and old newspapers. That was Matilde.

“José Juan, what happened to you?” she asked.

“Leave the kid alone.” Doña Juana, her mother-in-law, appeared from behind. Looking at Matilde she said, “What happened to you?” She patted José Juan on the back as he slogged inside. Doña Juana was a hunchback.

José Juan had walked a few meters when doña Juana sighed. “Must be the maladies of love.”

Still recovering from the shock, Matilde stared at her. Superstitious old woman. She went to the kitchen and grabbed some Valerian herbs to calm herself.

“Just look at that pale skin and chapped lips. Next it’ll be insomnia and diarrhea.” The prophetic tone in her voice made the house tremble and think about the sleepless nights to come.

The news of José Juan’s sickness spread over the town in less than a couple hours. That’s how it works in Bagojo, a town of 433 people.