I apologize. Again.
People compliment me on my looks the same way they talk about the weather to start small talk. I get a lot of metaphors: “she’s got eyes like polished chestnuts.” “A skin like peach, the color of oak leaves in the Fall.” “A mouth like an oasis from the Arabian Nights,” Don Hernando said once. They’re all similes, actually. The women in the pueblo, however, don’t bother with that kind of poetry. “She’s got some secret admirer from Monterrey who brings her silks and perfumes from the East.” “I’ll widow myself before I see my husband talking to her.” “Have you seen the silver hairs on her head?” Yes, I’ve got some silver in my hair. It’s one of the few visible signs of my age. I wish I had more of those. And less of the silks and perfumes, which I have no use for. I’ve got a whole cabinet filled with trinkets like that. All from the gentlemen of the pueblo.
I have no friends. No confidantes to unburden my sorrows, no companions to gossip with while knitting or washing my clothes at the river. But I’ve got plenty of suitors. They try to buy me with presents. They bring me flowers, everyday. A few stop by my house on the weekends, bringing novelties from their travels. And promises. Always promises. They want to marry me and move to the coast. Some even talk about going to Spain. “You’ll never have to work again, Isabella. You’ll have your own villa, with servants of your own. Luxury! Travels! We’ll go to the opera, swim in the Mediterranean, sup with counts, dine with dukes. You’d live like royalty, if only you were my queen.” To all of them I give a humble smile, and politely decline. I don’t need the silks. I’ve got no use for the opera. I don’t want my own villa. I just want to grow old where I was born, in the company of my people. Some logs in the stove and a pillow to rest my head is all I ask for.
I wish I was ugly. Plain. Just a face in the crowd.