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This story is a complete work of fiction and is intended to be viewed and read as such. This story and the author in no way indorses or condones any actual, perceived or imagined act of physical abuse or dehumanization of any child or adult in any form what so ever. Woodshed haters and beauty pageant lovers beware!   

Laurana Jamie Davis had been given a new life. Just days ago, she and her parents were involved in a horrific traffic accident because of a drunken driver. The fifteen year old girl had escaped with only minor bruises and a few small cuts. Her parents James and Natalia Davis were not so lucky. Their affluence and standing in the Chicago community couldn’t spare her father from dying instantly and her mother passing away a few hours later in a hospital ER. Laura (as she liked to be called) was now without anyone. almost.

Her only living relative came to her aid and comfort as he helped to lay his distant sister and brother-in-law to rest. Twenty years before, Natalia had a falling out with her family because she embraced her American culture, left her southern Mississippi home and married a man whose descent was that of a non Spaniard. The only nod she gave to her heritage was naming her only child Laurana, in hopes that that act would pacify her parents and younger brother. Shortly after Laura’s birth, Natalia’s parents passed away and a distance built between her and her brother that was never really bridged. Out of circumstance, when Laura was born, she did ask her brother to take in Laura and adopt her if anything ever happened to her or her husband. James Davis was an only child and had no relatives. When he and Natalia were married, his mother was alive but she passed away before the birth of Laura a few years later. It was either Natalia’s brother Diego Vasquez or the state that would care for Laura if the unthinkable ever happened.

Diego spent several days trying to sort out the estate of his late sister without much success. He had to seek the assistance of the Davis’s personal and corporate attorney Mrs. Sheila Martin. Mrs. Martin thought the world of Mr. and Mrs. Davis and handled all of the late Davis’s legal issues without charge to the estate. She used every bit of her legal expertise to sort out and reach terms of agreement between the Davis’s creditors and Laura, the sole heir to the Davis holdings. When Diego first met with Mrs. Martin, he noticed that she was not much on pleasantries and was all business. It didn’t take long for him to realize that despite her lake of personality, she would move heaven and earth to work out a fair resolution for Laura Davis. She also offered to assist Diego with any issues involving the transfer of custody of Laura to Diego and his wife. Mrs. Davis also did this while refusing to take any form of compensation from the Vasquez’s. She told Diego that doing this would be a final act of devotion and admiration to James and Natalia Davis.

To Diego’s dismay it was revealed that the affluence of the Davis’s came with a cost. To make his investment business a success, James Davis had mortgaged their multi-million dollar home to the hilt and signed over all of the families stock and insurance portfolio’s to the various banks that kept his firm afloat. The dot.com crash of the `90s and the stock market crash after September 11 just about took his lucrative investment empire under. Only his reputation as a solid and honest broker allowed the various banks and lenders to take a chance on saving the Davis investment empire from failure; however, saving the lively hoods of his employees and his own family proved to be a price that would ultimately be paid by the second love of his life, his daughter.

Laura’s uncle tried to shield his niece from the news that all she had or the only home she ever knew was now the property of the banks and other lending institutions. Diego marveled at Laura and how she comported herself during the aftermath of her parents death. Laura was ever graceful and mature as friends and business associates of her family told her how great her mother and father were. They told the beautiful fifteen year old that her parents would truly be missed and how brave she was to stand so strong while her mother and father were eulogized and laid to rest. Laura really was magnificent as she hosted and greeted all of the people who came to her home after the burial to pay their last respects. Everyone remarked how proud James and Natalia would have been of their little girl.

It was no wonder that Laura was so gracious. Her parents had groomed her from a very young age to be the perfect young lady. Even in black dress and hosiery, she was the model of elegance and grace. She wore little make-up and had her four foot length of straight raven black hair gathered into a perfectly tight bun while wearing her mother’s pearl earrings and matching pearl necklace. Laura used a set of her late mother’s jewel encrusted hair combs to help hold the mass of raven hair into the tight bun. Not a strand of hair was out of place, nor would it be as she had been in many beauty pageants and talent contests, having won more than her share of both. The Davis’s made sure to see that their daughter had the best etiquette training and classes that would help her to present herself to the pageant judges and community. Lessons in dance, singing and piano were also lavished on Laura. She excelled at all of them (piano being her favorite) and just about anything else she put her mind to. The icing on the cake was that she was a straight `A’ honor student. With all of her refinements, Laura still had the ability to be just a fifteen year old girl and be a friend to all that she met. Like all teenagers, Laura was not perfect; she was prone to exhibit an attitude from time to time, especially if she were stressed or if she came across the rare person that either didn’t take a liking to her or vice versa. Pageant judges never saw this side of Laura, having perfected turning her attitude off and on like a switch, for the most part. Her friends, teachers and her late parents tended to look the other way when that most un-ladylike trait came to the surface. Beauty pageants and talent contests aside, she would rather run around in a pair of designer jeans or shorts and tank top rather than wear the requisite dresses and gowns that made her pageant material. As successful as she was in the pageant and talent contest world, she much preferred the company of her high school classmates, be they the coolest of the cool crowd or just the anonymous student who’s name none of the cool kids would ever admit to knowing. This was made clear when almost all of her incoming sophomore class and past and present teachers attended the funeral Mass and the reception that she was now hosting. While she may have only had Uncle Diego as a blood relative, she had many, many friends.

Once all of the mourners had paid their last respects and the home she grew up in had nearly emptied, Diego took his niece by the hand and introduced her to her parents lawyer Mrs. Martin. The three sat at the dinning room table as Mrs. Martin formally read the `Last Will and Testament’ of Laura’s parents and went over the particulars of the Davis estate. Diego knew that the news would be devastating to his niece and that she was going to have to leave behind the life, everyone and everything else that she ever knew. Laura was told that since she had no other relatives, she would now be placed in the custody of her Uncle Diego and his wife, her Aunt Marta. She was further told of her parents wish to have her uncle and aunt formally adopt her, so that she would not lose track of the same heritage that a then eighteen year old Natalia Vasquez had left twenty years ago in order to escape her family situation and marry her only love James Davis. Diego told Laura that he and Marta would be happy to bring her into their family and that her two cousins would welcome her with open arms as the third child of the Vasquez family. He assured her that
she would be raised, cared for, and loved as she became the newest daughter and sister of the Vasquez family. While still processing what she had just been told, Mrs. Martin jarred her back to reality by informing her that the home she grew up in and all of its possessions belonged to the banks and creditors that had liens on the Davis holdings. She was being given two days to vacate the home and surrender all belongings as everything was to be sold, or auctioned. Anything that remained would be donated to various charities by the creditors and the bank.

Laura was stunned and in disbelief. She said, “This is my home. Mommy and daddy built this house. I can’t leave here. Everything I know or have is here.” As tears welled in Laura’s eyes and started to flow, Mrs. Martin corrected her. She said in a rather brisk tone of voice, “Young lady, this WAS your home. Now it belongs to the bank. Everything in this house except for the most personal of possessions like family photo albums or the such, also belong to the bank and the creditors. Earlier today your uncle and I were able to reach an agreement with the bank. You will be able to pack one suitcase of clothing and two small boxes of personal items. The boxes are the size of file boxes so you should take care and choose what items you want to keep very carefully. Miss Vasquez, this is the way it is. You have no choice in the matter. I suggest you prepare yourself for your new life.”

Laura said in a defiant tone and raised voice, “Excuse me Mrs. Martin, you don’t have to be so cruel, I will accept your terms I just don’t have to like it. I also hope that you and the people who want to sell everything of mine and my family sleep well. I don’t think I could if I didn’t have a conscience. Oh and by the way, my name is Miss Davis. Miss Laurana Jamie Davis – Orphan.” Mrs. Martin brought out her claws once more and told Laura, “Enjoy your name while you can dear. Very soon, once the adoption goes through, you will legally be named Vasquez. Again you have no choice in the matter. Miss Davis.” Mrs. Martin concluded her last statement with a condescending smile aimed at Laura. As Mrs. Martin gathered her papers and documents to leave she said, “I’ll be back tomorrow to check on the belonging you decide to keep and to see you out of the banks house by noon.”

Laura had reached the limits of her composure and ran to her uncle’s open arms as she began to cry without any hope of control. He patted his niece on the back and said, “Chica, everything will be okay. The bank my have this house and everything in it, but you have family. That is more important than any material possessions. We can’t replace Natalia and James, but we can fill the hole that has been left in your heart with love. I know you will assimilate into the family chica. It may take a little bit of time and some adjustments, but you will be fine. Just think in no time at all you will be a big sister to your cousins. While you will have a lot to adjust to, you will also be able to teach us some things too. Liana and Roberto (Laura’s 13 and 12 year old cousins) have never been to a big city. You will be able to tell them stories and you will make new friends. Your Aunt Marta will love to have someone as elegant and mannered as you around the house while she works at the barbershop. It saddens me that you never got to know us when you were little, maybe it would make your adjustment easier if you had. That is now water under the bridge, I will look forward to you becoming a proper member of the Vasquez family and getting to learn the ways and traditions of our family as well as your forgotten culture.”

Diego’s reassurance calmed her, and she decided that now was a good time to start picking out the things and clothes that she would take with her to Mississippi. She had the forethought to ask her uncle what it is like living in Mississippi. He told her that their home is just a few miles inland from the Gulf Coast and that it is hot most of the time and always humid – especially now that summer was just beginning. He suggested that she select simple light dresses. He also suggested that she not waste her limited space on such things as vanity items that she won’t have any use for, as their home is a mile from any other house and thirty miles from the nearest large town.

A couple of hours later, her uncle came to her room to check on her and found Laura in her room (walk-in closet actually), sorting what she would pack in her suitcase and in the file boxes. He entered her room for the first time and said, “Chica, you were such an over achiever. I’ve never seen so many blue ribbons and awards. Look at all of these tiara’s and sashes, you really are a star. a very beautiful star.” When she came out of her walk-in closet, he lost his attention on all of her awards; he was now focused on her. For the first time in two days, Diego saw his niece in a pair of cut-off jeans and a short tube-top that revealed her firm midriff and accentuated her soon to be well developed breasts and for the first time, since arriving from Mississippi, he saw her with her hair down. He said, “Laurana, I have never seen so much hair on one head. It is just like your mother’s when she was young. You have enough hair for at least a half dozen girls. It is like a sheet of black silk. With the humidity and heat of the coast, you’ll be glad to not have to take care of it. When we get you home Marta will make sure your head shines. Chica, please do one thing for me; please cover yourself, this is not proper for a young lady.”

Laura didn’t understand everything her uncle had said and just thought that the thing about light dresses meant that she would have no need for her winter clothing and most of her long sleeve outfits. She also understood that since her aunt worked in a hair salon, she would help to take care of her hair, the hair that her mother and father loved so much. She considered her hair to be her best feature. As much as her parents loved her hair, she loved the sleek, shiny silken mass of her blackest of black hair even more. Laura thought to herself, “I guess Aunt Marta shaves Uncle Diego’s head to help him beat the heat and the Mississippi humidity.” That thought sent a full body shiver through Laura, just the thought of getting her ends trimmed every three months would make her shake with fear. She remembered what Diego said about being thirty miles from town. So she had the idea to ditch the skirts and dresses she had packed and just keep a few pairs of jeans and a few pairs of shorts. She used the extra space to pack all of her scrunchies, barrettes and head bands, so she could keep her hair up most of the time and try to cope with the humidity and heat of the Deep South. She also took the tiara and sash that she had just won the month before in the `Miss Chicago Junior Teen 2006′ pageant. The rest of her suitcase was filled with her tee shirts and tank tops (she did not pack any tube-tops, thinking this would satisfy her uncle). Just as she was getting ready to zip it shut, she ran to her parent’s bedroom and collected the antique etched-pewter comb, brush and mirror set from the tray on her mother’s vanity table. Laura carefully picked up the antique pewter brush and held it to her lips and nose. The brush still held strands of her mother’s hair. When she closed her eyes and inhaled, she could almost smell her mother’s freshly shampooed and conditioned hair. She also opened the drawer that had her mother’s jeweled hair combs and pins. She wanted to keep these items, not so much for their extreme monetary value, but more for the sentimental value and to remember her mother (who’s own hair had been just as raven black and straight; however, her mother’s hair had just reached the middle of her back). Laura packed her mother’s hair heirlooms between tee shirts and jeans, hoping that Mrs. Martin would not make an issue of the monetary value of the items. She knew that even in the back woods of Mississippi there would be special times that she would be able to use them in her own hair.  

The rest of her
early evening was spent collecting the family photo albums and other items that would be precious mementos of her mother, her father and her childhood. That last evening was spent with her uncle as she gave him a full blown piano recital after they had dinner. Before turning in for her last night in her bed, she dressed in a long red evening gown and again wore her mother’s pearl earrings and necklace. She also added a jeweled necklace that her father gave her for her fifteenth birthday. Sitting on the piano bench, her hair hung down as the ends rested on the carpet and swung loosely from side to side as her fingers pressed the ivories of the Steinway & Sons piano, playing (with near flawless precision) the melody’s that Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin created centuries before. Finally for mischievous fun and good measure fifteen year old teenager rose from the bench and half squatting banged the piano keys to the melody of `Great Balls of Fire’. Diego was truly saddened that his niece would have to give up the things that privilege and her mother’s genes and DNA provided. He looked at her and in addition to seeing a carbon copy of his now deceased sister; he saw a bright star an `estrella’. He decided that when the adoption is completed she would be known as `Estelita. Estelita Calvina Vasquez’.

The next morning came too quickly for Laura as she prepared to vacate the only home she had ever known. In the kitchen, she found Diego as he was hanging up the phone. He told her that Mrs. Martin had called and said she would be by in about two hours to complete the paperwork that was needed so that the bank could take control of the house and he could take his niece to her new home in Mississippi. Diego suggested that Laura get dressed and have her suitcase and the two file boxes ready to load in the convertible once Mrs. Martin is assured that nothing else has been removed. He told Laura that the drive to Mississippi would take a day and a half or two depending on how many stops they make along the way. He also told her that since the weather forecast indicated clear skies and temperatures that will only get warmer as they approach the stifling heat and humidity of the Gulf Coast, she might want to wear a very light dress and have light sweater for the night time driving. She brought the boxes and suitcase down from her room and had on a tank top and shorts. She wore a long sleeve shrug over the tank top. Her uncle came into the living room after preparing lunches and dinner for their first day of travel and saw the outfit she had on. He admonished her to go back upstairs and change into what he asked for, a dress and sweater. He said, “Estel. I mean Laura one thing you should know is that we don’t wear things like.” Diego was interrupted when the doorbell rang and several of Laura’s friends had come by to say their final goodbye’s, to wish her well and to make sure they keep in touch. She took her friends to her room to chat for the last time while she did as her uncle asked. She selected a bright colored sundress and a pair of matching colored strappy sandals. She also grabbed a sweater as he asked. Laura then took one last look at her walk-in closet and all of the dresses, skirts, gowns that were hanging on the racks. She looked at the drawer bins that had all of her jeans and tops that didn’t get stuffed into the suitcase. Lastly she looked at the shelves that had every color and style of shoe you could imagine. Sadly she closed the door to the closet for the last time. As her friends came down stairs with her, she saw that Mrs. Martin had just arrived and was giving her uncle several envelopes. “Mr. Vasquez, I was able to contact the Department of Children’s Services and get formal custody of your niece awarded to you as of today. This will help greatly with the adoption process once you are back in Mississippi. Some calls were made at the courthouse and one of the judges in our family court went to law school with a judge in the area that you live in. Your judge has agreed to expedite the adoption process and have it finalized within thirty days. Then you should have no problems as far as old school or medical records are concerned. All I need to do on this end is get her name change approved. Our judge will take care of that today for you. He just needs Laura’s full name as you will want it to appear on the adoption petition and on her amended birth certificate. Oh and one last thing, I got a court order to open Mrs. Davis’s safety deposit box and there was just one envelope that was to be opened by you, Mrs. Velasquez and a local Mississippi attorney. Here’s the catch, it is to be done without the knowledge of Laura and only after the adoption is finalized for a period of at least thirty days. I have included it in the large envelope with the other legal papers you will need to keep.”

“Thank you Mrs. Martin. First I want to apologize for Laura’s tone yesterday evening. I know she was upset, but that was no excuse for such bad behavior. As for the name change, I want it to change completely from Laurana Jamie Davis to Estelita Calvina Vasquez. It is time that she became acquainted with her family’s traditions and her Spanish culture. The best way is to strip her of all these influences and American Teenage culture and return her to the conservative culture that her mother was raised in and ran away from. She will get a new and complete Spanish name to go along with her new life.”

Seeing Laura come down the stairs and the scowl on her face as she made eye contact with her, Mrs. Martin said, “Mr. Vasquez I couldn’t agree more. These kids today have it too easy and expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. Just look how your sister and brother-in-law have spoiled Estelita with all of these possessions.”

“Mrs. Martin, I promise you, Estelita is going to be loved and cared for. She is also going to have major changes occur in her life. She will be taught how to live a very simple farm life, to live on a much less grand scale and will give up the thing that she probably holds most dear.”

Mrs. Martin opened the lids of the two file boxes and approved their removal. She started to open the suitcase but noticed the time and said, “I have got to get back to the courthouse before noon so that the name change can be approved. After 4pm your niece will officially be Estelita Calvina Vasquez. We will FedEx the order this evening by overnight delivery and it should get to Mississippi before you do.”

With the legalities done, Diego loaded the two boxes and suitcase along with his suitcase in the trunk of the convertible. He told his niece to get the bags that had their lunch and dinner in it and to come along as he wanted to get on the road and not keep Mrs. Martin waiting. As Laura walked past Mrs. Martin and out the door, Mrs. Martin said with a smirk, “Good luck with your new life Miss Vasquez. I’m sure you will need it.” Laura turned her head towards the lawyer and rolled her eyes at her while saying, “As if”. In a final act of despise towards the lawyer, Laura flipped her middle finger at her. Thankfully this last finger gesture was not witnessed by her uncle.  Mrs. Martin then closed the door to Laura’s former home and locked the door.

The trip to the Gulf Coast went without incident and gave Diego and Laura time to talk and really get to know each other a little better. He found out that she had her learners permit to drive but couldn’t apply for her license until she turned sixteen in eight months. He told her that in Mississippi she would be able to get her license before sixteen. All she would have to do is pass the driving test. She also told him how she was looking forward to being around her cousins and wanted to learn as much as she could about her Spanish family as that was not a topic that her late mother ever wanted to discuss. Sadly, she admitted to her uncle that she only knew a few words of Spanish, while in school she had studied French at her mother’s request.

Diego took the time to let Laura drive part of the way to her new home. She found
that as they moved further south, the convertible compensated for a lack of air conditioning as the rushing breeze cooled her and had her long hair whipping in the wind. While she drove he explained some of the differences she would find in Mississippi. First she found out that her new home was actually a small farm with her Aunt Marta’s haircutting business on one end and Diego’s auto supply business on the other side of the same building next to the entrance of the family farm. He explained that each of the children have morning and evening chores to do before and after school. They also help out with the farm work and with the two businesses. Laura took a deep breath and thought that chores wouldn’t be so bad. She had never been on a farm before, but she was willing to learn. Laura was also told that some of the things she would not have are luxuries like air conditioning and satellite or cable TV. She would also be giving up her cell phone as there were no cable or cell towers in the area she would be living in. Laura found out that the water to the farm was supplied by a well and that the water usage was kept to a minimum as the various crops, farm animals and Marta’s barbershop take priority. The water that came into the house was for cooking and cleaning. There would be no backyard swimming pool like she had at her now former residence. He told her that there are no hour long bubble baths, hot tubs or long hot showers. Everyone gets a five minute shower that is lukewarm at best (silently she thought how would she ever be able to keep her hair shampooed and conditioned the way she and her mother liked it). Diego told Laura that her cousin Liana and Aunt Marta have a dress code; they only wear simple house dresses when at home or when helping with chores. They wear the same plain house dresses and plastic garden clogs when they travel the thirty miles to shop in the nearest large town. Her uncle told her that the women of the Vasquez family never wear jeans, slacks or shorts (now she wished she had packed differently). They have nice dresses that they wear to Mass each Sunday morning (great no more sleeping in on Sunday thought Laura). He also told Laura that she would be going to school at the local parishes Catholic School and that they had a strict uniform and grooming code (so much for my designer jeans that I won’t be allowed to wear she said to herself. She also thought that it was good that she loaded up on her hair accessories since the school wouldn’t allow her hair to fall below her collar. I can do up-do’s and with Marta’s help that shouldn’t be a problem she thought to herself). The last thing that totally shocked Laura was her new curfew and bedtime. Diego told her that she could not go out past 7pm (providing she had all homework and chores done) and had to be in bed by 8:00pm each night including weekends. Rolling her eyes and using the sassy tone of a spoiled big city teenager, she asked Diego if he was kidding about the bedtime because most of the time it is still daylight at 8:00pm.

Diego took a much more serious turn with her and said, “Look young lady. chica, I will not allow insolence from you. I don’t allow it with Liana and Roberto and I will not allow it with you. One thing you will need to learn is proper respect. I was not happy with the way you spoke to that Martin woman. You will learn to address all adults in a proper tone and in a proper manner with ma’am and sir. At our house we have a thing called a woodshed and you will visit it if you show disrespect, misbehave, break curfew or don’t get your chores done. I am sure that when your sister and brother get home from church camp next week, they will tell you I am not kidding. I have told you that you will be loved and cared for and treated as my own daughter, which you will officially be in a month. I also promise you that you will be punished by me or your aunt just like your sister and brother. Estelita you will go to bed at 8:00pm not just because I said so; but, because you will get up at 4:30am everyday rain or shine, school or no school so Marta can get you, your sister and brother cleaned up so that you all shine, then you will start your chores at 5am. You’ll help Marta with breakfast and clean the kitchen before you walk the three miles to your school that starts at 7:30am. School is out at 3pm and then you walk home, do your afternoon chores and homework and after dinner clean the kitchen again, by that time you will be ready for bed. trust me. The farm animals and crops don’t know that there is no school on weekends. They still have to be cared for seven days a week.” Laura was almost shaking at this point and said, “Uncle Diego I am sorry I didn’t mean to sound rude to you, but I have never had a curfew or bedtime like that. I really am sorry. Sir, can I ask you a question please?”

“That is much better chica, you may ask your question” said her uncle.

“Who’s Estella?”

He said, “Estelita is you. Your name change became official when we left Chicago. You are now Estelita Calvina Vasquez. In one month your adoption will also become official, at that point I would like for you to address Marta and me as Mama and Papa, like your soon to be sister and brother do. However, I will not force that. What I don’t want to hear is Laurana Jamie Davis come out of your mouth ever again. You are no longer that girl. Every time Marta or I hear that or someone else calls you that, you will take a trip to the woodshed am I clear on that Estelita?”

Quivering, Estelita asked, “Why did you change my other names? I thought only Davis would get changed, sir.”

“You need to be brought back to the culture and heritage that your mother turned her back on and ran away from. It is plain to see that except for the first name you had, you had no connection to your family or your heritage. When I listened to you play that piano I thought you were a star and that is what Estelita is, a shining star. As for Calvina, that is the middle name of Liana and Calvino is the middle name of Roberto. Calvina is now your middle name. You will understand its meaning when we get home.”

Due to the clear weather and Estelita helping with the driving, they arrived home much sooner than planned. Before noon the next day, they were pulling in to Estelita’s new home. Now that the car was not moving and there was no air blowing her hair in the wind, she felt the oppressive heat and humidity of the southern coast. While Diego was unpacking the trunk, she said “Oh my god, it is so blessed hot here how do you guy’s freaking stand it Uncle Diego?” Diego dropped his bag, came over to her and gave her with his rock hard and calloused hand two not so gentle whacks on her rear end. “Estelita, that was for blasphemy and vulgarity. You are to never use the Lords name in vain. Next time you go to the woodshed.”

Having learned a painful lesson, Estelita took her suitcase into her new home. She was surprised at how small the house was and how much her butt was stinging. Her Aunt Marta came to her and gave her a warm hug and kiss. Marta had been outback hanging up laundry to dry. She welcomed her niece/soon to be daughter by taking her bag and showing her to her new room. Estelita couldn’t help but notice and cringe at the long plain Jane house dress, clunky plastic garden clogs, and bandana that her aunt was wearing.   

Estelita found that she would be sharing a bedroom with thirteen year old Liana. She also noticed that her bedroom and the bedroom of Roberto had no door on them (so much for her privacy she said to herself). Marta tossed the bag on the bed and opened it so she could help the newest family member get settled in. She then picked up two handfuls of Estelita’s four foot raven mane. How many other girls are you hiding in there chica? Oh my I have got some work to do on you.” Turning her attention back to the suitcase, she asked, “Estelita where are your clothes? The only dress I see is this red evening gown. You can’t do farm work or chores in it. You know we don’t were jeans and shorts. I see we will have to driv
e to the Wal-Mart later and get you some proper clothes for a young Vasquez lady. You will need some house dresses, garden clogs, sun screen; several bandana’s for when you do your outdoor chores and a good dress or two to wear to Mass every Sunday morning. As for these jeans, shorts and tops – they go into the trash.” Turning her attention to the hair accessories “What in the world is all of this junk?” asked her aunt, holding up a scrunchie and head band. Remembering what her uncle said, Estelita responded, “Aunt Marta, I just thought that because it was so hot and humid down here, I would use them to help keep my hair up. I also was hoping that since you do hair you could help me take care of my hair in all of this heat humidity. I’m sorry if I made you mad Aunt Marta.”

“You didn’t make me mad; I just thought your uncle explained everything concerning your new life, your new routine and your appearance from now on” said Marta. She took Estelita by the arm and started to lead her out of the house and over to her barbershop as Diego was bringing in the two file boxes. Marta stopped him and said, “Diego look at this mess (grabbing a handful of Estelita’s glorious tresses). I’m taking her to my shop to get this taken care of for good. When I’m done, I’ll need the car so I can take her to Wal-Mart for clothes and over to the church so she can be fitted for her school uniforms. All this girl brought with her was jeans, shorts and junk for this nonsense (again pulling up and yanking on a large handful of raven hair). It looks like we are going to have a bon fire this evening.” Marta continued on to her barbershop dragging a helpless and confused Estelita by the arm.

Opening the door to the barbershop and turning on the lights, Marta sat Estelita down in one of the two barber chairs. She opened a window and turned on a window fan that was in another window to circulate some air. Estelita was confused and didn’t understand what was going on when Marta removed her bandana and tossed it on the counter, revealing her shiny smooth bald head. Estelita screamed, “Oh my god! Holy shit! Aunt Marta, you. you. you’r. you’re bald just like Uncle Diego!” Marta planted her hand across Estelita’s face leaving a red hand print on her cheek. She said, “I heard Diego warn you about blasphemy and cursing chica! Now you will have to learn the hard way. When we are finished here, you and I will take a trip to the woodshed before we go to town and get you some proper clothes.”

“Now sit still while I fix this mess and make you a proper member of the Vasquez family. If you give me any trouble you will not be able to sit for a week after your rear end is tanned.”

“Aunt Marta, I am so so sorry. I just was shocked when you took off your scarf. Will you please still help me fix my hair so it is up and off my shoulders and back? It is just so hot down here” said Estelita.

“Chica, I am not helping you fix you hair up. I am going to take your hair off, just like the rest of us” said Marta as she pointed to a 5×7 portrait of her family. Estelita jumped out of the barber chair when she saw the picture of Diego, Marta, Liana and Roberto smiling from ear to ear for the camera and not so much as a single hair on any of their shiny smooth bald heads. Marta grabbed her niece by the shoulder and forced her back into the seat of the barber chair. Marta became so frustrated with her that she didn’t bother to wrap a paper strip around Estelita’s neck. She just grabbed a red and white stripped cape and flung it over top of the girl snatching the velvety black sheet of hair and moving it to one side as she fastened the cape around her neck tight.

Knowing what her fate was, Estelita began to sob over the impending loss of her hair. “Wh. wh. why are you doing this to me Aunt Marta? I promise I will be good and I will follow all the rules and go to bed on time. Please, please don’t cut my hair. This how mom and dad always liked it.”

“Young lady, I’ve seen how good you are, so good you’re going to the woodshed after I’m done with you. As for how your mom and dad liked your hair, they aren’t here anymore. We are and you will have it the way we want it, the same way your mother was supposed to have hers before she ran a way to be with your father. Natalia defied her parents and ran. Well you are back in the fold and you are going to be shorn and live up to your new name, Estelita Calvina Vasquez – Bright Shining Bald Star Vasquez.”

As Estelita was sobbing and screaming, Marta took hold of the four foot mane and gathered it up into a massive ponytail. She was barely able to hold it with one hand as she reached for her barbering shears on the counter. Marta lifted the shears to a level equal to the base of the screaming girl’s neck. Then she plunged the long shears into the ponytail and started working the blades open and closed. With each movement of the shears, more and more strands of Estelita’s hair were severed and gave way. The process took a full two minutes, but finally the shears made a final closure and released the last strands of hair in the thick ponytail. Showing no feeling for her niece’s plight, Marta lifted the three foot ponytail and dropped into the lap of a still sobbing Estelita. When the broken remnants of Estelita’s former pride and glory hit the cape, they splayed in all directions. Most remained in her lap, but large amounts fell to the sides of the cape and hit the floor. Another large amount slid off the end of the cape and landed at the feet of and in the sandals of the hysterical teenager. Marta then placed the shears on the counter and reached into a drawer to pull out a set of mechanical clippers. She fumbled for the #0 head and popped it on the clippers. She then plugged them into the electrical socked and flipped the switch that brought them to life. Without ceremony, the blades were placed at the center of Estelita’s forehead and as Marta pulled her head back she started moving the cutting blades towards her crown removing her center part. The first pass left a two inch wide swath where just a moment ago a four foot and then a one foot length of raven tresses had rested. As the blades cut through the shortened locks, the severed hair fell in front of Estelita’s eyes and landed on the cape to continue its journey as it slid down to join the mass of hair that already rested on her lap. The next several passes of the clippers had the hair landing on her shoulder and then cascading down the cape like a molten river of black lava. A few minutes later the top was done, having been reduced to very small tufts of bristly stubble.

Next Marta placed the now warm and still hungry clippers at the side of her head. She cocked Estelita’s head to her right shoulder and placed the cutting machine on the left side of her head at the middle of her ear. The clippers then moved upwards toward her temple and over the top of the left ear. Several passes later and her head was then cocked to the left as the right side of her head was systematically denuded with each continued pass of the clippers.

Soon the only hair of any length that remained was on the back of her head. Marta turned the clippers off long enough for her to grab the remaining hair hanging on the back of her head and fashioned it into a short ponytail. The clippers came back on and Estelita’s head was shoved forward so that her chin was pressed into her chest. A dozen or so up and down motions with the #0 blades and that ponytail was removed from her head and like the other longer ponytail it too was dropped into her lap.

The screams and sobs gave way to whimpers and tears as the clippers were once again made silent for a moment.

Marta removed the now hot #0 cutting head and replaced it with a #00000 head. The cutting machine came back to life and began to remove the small sandpaper like tufts of hair that were still embedded into Estelita’s scalp. This cutting head left only a microscopic trace of stubble where not so long ago, a long four foot waterfall of onyx tresses had been suspended looking like a wall of frozen black
water. After numerous passes in multiple directions, the #00000 cutting blades came to a rest for the final time.

Estelita thought that the nightmare was over and started to get up from the big red barber chair. Just as quickly Marta shoved her back into the chair. Marta said, “Chica I am not done with you, not by a long shot. I will tell you when to get out of that chair. If I see you move once more I will blister your behind right here and now and I promise, you won’t be able to sit for days when I am finished.”

Marta moved over to the wash basin and turned on the hot water. She then placed a towel in the sink to soak up the hot water. While she was doing this she focused in on Estelita’s behavior. She told the young girl that there was a zero tolerance for bad behavior or willfulness in the Vasquez household. She also told her that she had been home for less than an hour and had already been spanked, slapped and had earned an impending trip to the woodshed.

Soon the towel was steaming hot and Marta took it to Estelita and wrapped it around her entire head. The hot towel made a defeated and nearly comatose Estelita let out a painful yelp. Her aunt told her that the hot towel was something she would get used to. After leaving it on her head for a few minutes the towel came off and her head felt cold because of the window fan. Just as soon as she felt the shiver from the fan, she again felt warmth that came from a hot lather machine as Marta covered her head with the white foam. Marta then ordered Estelita to not budge as she took a fresh Mach 3 razor and placed it on her forehead and stroked it back towards her crown. With each stroke of the razor, Estelita heard the rasping sound of the micro stubble being removed from her scalp and pale white skin replacing the raven black hair that used to be there. To Estelita’s ears, it sounded as if a freight train was running over and through her head. Marta spent ten minutes removing this layer of stubble from her soon to be daughters head. Marta then re-lathered her head and repeated the stroking, being sure to remove any stubble that had been missed the first time. Once the shaving had stopped, Estelita now possessed instead of a head of gleaming black hair a very white and very pale scalp. Marta turned the barber chair around so that the newest member of the Vasquez family could take a look in the mirror at her new and permanent hair style. “Take a good look at the new you as you start your new life chica” said a satisfied Marta. Estelita hated what she saw.

Her head was ghost white except for two or three dark freckles that had been hidden by her hair and a long tan line that ran from the center of her forehead to her crown, the only proof left that she used to have a head of hair with a center part. She noticed a small mole on one side of her head just above her very large `Dumbo’ ears. To herself she thought, “How could someone this hideous have ever been `Miss Chicago Junior Teen’?”

Before letting Estelita get up from the barber chair, Marta rubbed into her exposed scalp a stinging oil that would help prevent the sensitive skin from becoming irritated. She then applied a wax substance to her denuded head and buffed her scalp until it shined under the barbershop lights. Marta then unfastened the cape and let all of the gathered hair fall to the floor and to the feet and sandals of Estelita. She then gave Estelita a small trash bag and ordered her to clean up the floor of all the hair that had just been sheared from her head. She was also told to pick all of the hair out from her sandals as she did not want any of the hair tracked into the house.

With the clean up done, Marta took the young girl back to the house and explained that every morning at 4:30am she and her sister and brother report to the barbershop for their daily head shave and head wax. She told Estelita that Liana only gets her head waxed every morning and needs to only be shaved once or twice a week because she has already undergone a years worth of Laser hair removal treatments and almost no hair grows back now. She said that Roberto has only had two treatments and still needs his head shaved daily. Marta then told Estelita that in a couple of months she too would start Laser treatments to have her scalp permanently removed of any hair and that within two years she should be permanently bald as well, just like her, Diego and Liana -almost.
Later That Afternoon

Later in the afternoon, Estelita followed Diego around the farm in one of her new sleeveless plain Jane knee length house dresses and new clunky plastic garden clogs, as he showed her how to feed the chickens and how to gather fresh eggs from the hen house each morning as part of her morning chores. Marta assigned her the duty of sweeping and moping the floors of the house, barbershop and auto parts business as part of her evening chores. During the first evening at her new home, Marta and Diego had Estelita bring her suitcase out to the backyard fire pit. She was instructed to place each item from the suitcase into the fire. Each tank top, each tee shirt, each pair of designer jeans and each pair of shorts met the flames one by one. Having her new wardrobe now, Marta retrieved the sundress and sandals that Estelita wore when she arrived in Mississippi and had her add them to the fire. Marta allowed her to keep one of her mothers jeweled hair combs as a remembrance of her mother. All of Estelita’s hair accessories and scrunchies went into the flame as did several thousands of dollar’s worth of her mother’s jeweled hair combs and pins. Lastly her mother’s antique etched-pewter comb, brush and mirror set were added to the fire pit. It took less than a minute for the glass in the pewter mirror to crack after being placed in the fire. The sound cracking sound of the mirror made Estelita jump and a full body shiver ran through her as she witnessed the destruction of one of the last reminders of her late mother.

Diego told his new daughter that she only had one more thing to take to the fire pit before it was used to make hamburgers and hot dogs for that night’s dinner. He handed her the heavy plastic bag that held the remains of her once luscious and long strands of the deepest black hair that had ever been grown by a member of the Vasquez family. With a tear in her eye she reluctantly walked up to the fire pit and placed the bag and its heavy contents into the fire. She listened to the fire as it snapped and crackled when her glorious four feet mane of raven black hair and the plastic bag that held it became engulfed in the flames. Silently and sadly she said, “Goodbye mommy and daddy, goodbye Laurana Jamie Davis and goodbye old life. Hello Estelita Calvina Vasquez, hello ugly big Dumbo eared bright shining bald star, hello new life.”

With her hair now only a memory, she watched her soon to be new father prepare dinner. Marta asked her to come to the picnic table and talk while dinner was being made. Marta then poured Estelita a tall glass of sweetened iced tea. They talked and began the bonding process, while Marta told Estelita that starting tomorrow, in addition to her morning and evening chores, she would spend the next two months of summer break working in the family vegetable garden and leaning how to do laundry by hand at the outside wash basin using lye soap and a washboard. This outside work will help her now pale white head develop into a uniformly tanned scalp by the time school starts and help her acclimate to the heat and humidity of southern coastal Mississippi. Also for the time being she would be allowed to wear her new bandanas only when the family made the long trips to town. Marta took the time to ask Estelita about school, her likes and dislikes, about her many talents. Marta also took the time to talk about Estelita’s late mother and her early days growing up as a teenager in Mississippi. Estelita asked Marta to tell a little about her cousins Liana and Roberto. She was genuinely excited to get to know her cousins that would very soon become her new younger sister a
nd brother. Lastly, Marta told Estelita that she and Diego would speak to her in Spanish as much as possible and that they will expect her to learn from them so that by the end of summer she would be ready for her first year of Spanish language class when school starts.

Estelita politely accepted her new routine as outlined without question or any argument as she ate dinner at the picnic table while standing up. The thoughts of her first trip to the woodshed, along with the feeling of the leather strap inside the woodshed, earlier that afternoon at the hands of her Aunt Marta was still fresh on her mind and on her very tender behind.

Two months later

Estelita, Liana and Roberto were in their mother’s barbershop at 4:30am sharp. It was the first day of the school year for the three Vasquez children. Soon after sitting down in her mother’s barber chair, Estelita was finished receiving her morning head shave and was having her head waxed to a gleaming shine by her mother before she started her morning chores and first day of Catholic School. She looked to the counter and noticed that in the 5×7 picture frame a new portrait of the five Vasquez’s, each dressed in their best Sunday morning church clothes, each smiling from ear to ear, each without a single hair on any of the shiny bald heads of her new family. She noted that the mole and freckles remained as did her large ears. The ugly tan line from her long gone center part was now matched by an equal tan on her gleaming bald head, the result of two months of uncovered outdoor chores in the heat of the Mississippi sun. Estelita smiled and thought to herself “Oh yeah. this is the only way to deal with and beat the heat and humidity in southern Mississippi.” Looking into the portrait, Estelita liked what and who she saw.

Estelita said, “Mama tomorrow could you please wake me at 4am because I would like you to start my head shave and wax early please, I’ve got an appointment to take my driving test after school and I want the picture on my drivers license to look really really good. I think you may need to shave me twice and do a second wax.” Her mother said, “All done chica. You are really going to shine on your first day of school and I promise you will shine for your driver’s license picture tomorrow.” Her mother then planted a gentle kiss on the top of her head. Estelita jumped up and said, “Gracias por afeitar y encerar mi cabeza mama. Te quiero.” She then kissed her mother and gave her a long, firm hug. Estelita’s mother then said, “Chica, you know that for just two months of speaking Spanish, you are doing a very good job. Don’t forget I’ll pick you up from school so we can go into town this afternoon for your first visit.”   

Jumping up and down from excitement Estelita said, “Yes ma’am, I won’t forget mama.  I can’t wait for you to take me to town for my first Laser treatment. I love you and papa so much. Dressed in one of her sleeveless very plain Jane knee length house dresses, Estelita was so excited and giddy anticipating her first Laser treatment that she almost jumped out of her clunky plastic garden clogs on her way to collect the fresh eggs and feed the chickens that was part of her morning chores.

The old Laurana Jamie Davis was gone. The elegant former `2006 Miss Chicago Junior Teen’ Beauty Pageant winner and sassy big city teenager disappeared somewhere between the flames of the fire pit and the multiple disciplined but caring tough love visits to the woodshed that she had experienced during that first summer of her new life at the hands of her new mother and father as well as by the unconditional acceptance and love of her new younger sister and brother. She metamorphosized, to be reborn as the newest well mannered, polite, loving and happily plain Jane daughter and big sister of the Vasquez family.

Estelita Calvina Vasquez had indeed assimilated to her new life. She was and is a bald bright shining star.

Author: Juan Butini Copyright protected c 2006 JDB Inc. Legally Registered r 2006. This story is for personal use only.  This story is not to be downloaded or uploaded to any other site without the permission of the author.

If you would like to comment on this story, please contact me at juanbutini@aim.com

Thank you for reading.

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