Not for Sale (Rudy and Mayra)

Rudy put his hand in the pocket of his pale blue guayabera and felt the soft, velvety jewel box. He put his key in the lock of the wide double wooden doors and pushed them open. He took in a deep breath of the pine oil scented air and breathed out slowly. He wheeled the black case with his quincalla samples of earrings, necklaces, hair clips, envelopes, small bottles of perfume, scarves, shoe laces, glue, staplers...He sold everything. He'd done well this trip. He'd gotten three new orders, seven returning customers. He made enough, or he would make enough when he delivered and got paid, that he could risk paying the last installment at the joyeria El Rubi, on the necklace with one ruby and one garnet he had been buying for Mayra for three months. No quincalla necklaces for her.
He stepped deeper into the cool, wide, dark hallway, onto the red, green, and ochre moorish tiles that came halfway up the wall. He breathed the pine oil scent of his home and imagined the huge smile on Mayra's face when she saw his gift. That smile lit up her eyes and made her glow. Something warm he thought was love rushed up his chest. He almost lost his balance. He walked into the front room. The tall wooden shutters of the patio doors were closed. The dark room was empty. For one second he held his breath. Was Mayra gone? But when his eyes got used to the darkness he saw her curled up on the big red velvet couch.
She didn't look up at first and when she did he saw she had been crying. He knelt beside her and stroked her black hair with its gray streak. "Que te pasa?" He leaned in to kiss her but she turned her face. "What is it?" He handed her the purple velvet box. She opened it. Inside the box was a gold chain with a ruby and garnet hanging from it. Together the two stones made a heart. The necklace glowed against its black velvet cushion. Last time he bought her pearls. She threw them across their bedroom. "Cosas para vieja. Don't buy me things only an old lady would wear." He had a hard time guessing what she would like but red was her favorite color. She threw the box across the room into the huge ceramic pot that held a wilting areca. He reached for her. She pushed him away. He thrust his body at her. If he wanted to he could crush her. She was small. He could smell vanilla and cloves. Before she said one word he felt dread. Was this the last time he would smell Mayra' skin, touch her hair? I pay for the perfume. I pay for the hours and hours in the peluqueria.
"Rudy me voy. Me tengo que ir."
He clasped her so tightly she couldn't move. "But I forgave you."
"That's just it. There's never been anything between me and Rolo. There's never been anything to forgive. You refuse to believe I love you and I can't take it."
He let her go. His knees gave way. He collapsed beside her onto the red couch. She rose and walked to the other end of the room. She wore the red dress with the deep v neck in front that showed the top of her breasts, so smooth and round.
"Rudy I'm leaving."
"Pero porque? I gave you everything." He waved his arm at everything he'd bought after he talked her into moving to Pueblo Nuevo and leaving her beloved Coral. "El sofa, three chairs, that painting of the Rio Guacabon you love so much, the Chinese lacquer dressers, the black four poster bed. Estas alfombras ridiculas y calurosas." He got up, full of energy now. "Este bucaro pretencioso." He took the huge vase with the Chinese flowered pattern and threw it against the floor. He stomped on the enormous paper flowers.
"Rudy, you tried to buy me. But after all, I'm not for sale." Rudy thought she sounded more surprised by this than he was.

Rudy walked on the bank of the Guacabon. He stood by the flat round rocks at the edge of the water near the field where three boys ran back and forth waiting for the wind to lift their kites. In the beginning he and Mayra sat on those rocks. In those days he was waiting for her to begin to love him and she pretended to love him and he couldn't believe her. She'd left him so many times and each time he thought this time it was for real.
He faced away from the boys, toward the river, so they wouldn't see him crying. Mayra was a splinter in his soul. He should have known better than to adore her. He couldn't get that vanilla taste of hers off his tongue. Her name ran over and over in his mind, an ever present whisper.
He jumped into the Guacabon, aiming for the remolino, willing it to take him to the bottom and erase him because it was the only way to erase her.
"El viejo se tiro al rio con ropa. " One of the boys jumped in after him. He grabbed Rudy's chest and threw his arm over him. "No puedo."
The other boys jumped in. Together they dragged Rudy onto the grass.

He lay on his back and looked at the perfect dome of the blue sky above him.
"No vale la pena." He spoke these words softly. "She's not worth dying for."
The boys had let go the kites to save him and he watched them fly away into the wind.