My second grade teacher in the Grupo Escolar Simón Rodríguez, la Maestra Olga, asked the children in khaki pants and red gingham dresses in front of her to write a composition about a popular character in our town, Guarenas. Sitting towards the front of the class, I reached inside my bag for the thin Cuaderno Caribe, straightened my back and scribbled the words with strong strokes of my right hand.
I wrote a simple expository piece about “Socio,” a mentally disabled man who fast paced the narrow sidewalks greeting everybody with “socio, socio, socio.” Socio was well cared for by his family in the downtown area of the agricultural town in the late sixties.
When I finished, I showed my work to the teacher who read it and asked me to follow her outside. I thought I was in trouble.
Maestra Olga called on the next-door teacher, Maestra Janette, and showed her my work. Now I was intrigued.
Maestra Janette asked me, “How old are you?”
I said, “Five,” showing my open right hand.
“Escribes muy bien y eres tan chiquita,” she said. “We need to talk to your parents.”
“Felicitaciones,” said both almost at the same time. “This is a great composition.”
I continued writing short stories and journal entries even through my turbulent teen years when my mother found my little diary, the one with the tiny metal key and read about my masturbating with vegetables and how much I hated her. I’m sure she read it because she started telling me, “nunca serás feliz porque no quieres a tu mamá.” But then I ran away from home and I lost all the writing I had done for years: short stories, journals, and shitty poetry full of clichés.
I have written through all the disruptions of my life, losing track and files along the way. The turning point happened in 2012, when I decided that writing was not a hobby but a constant in my life and I set attainable goals to become a published author. Now I write every day, and submit work frequently.
I have published only a few pieces, and soon will self-publish my memoir. Like that first composition, the central character is a mentally ill woman. I am that woman, struggling to control my emotions and to escape the situations I can no longer control.