Maria V. Luna




Simón Simone Simón


Maria V. Luna is privileged to be employed by one of the world’s greatest fashion forces by day, but by night she’s even more fortunate to be a budding writer.  She is a professional day-dreamer slash nap-taker and a student in the Rutgers-Newark MFA program for fiction—the former often benefitting the latter, so don’t be fooled.  She plans to live abroad in the coming months, to spend more time with her characters, allowing them, like children, to reach their full potential on the page.

It’s only seven in the morning and the salon doesn’t open till ten.  I need all that time to get ready, girl.  Takes me longer than regular women because I have more shit to cover up, push up, and hold down.  Anyway, I love the early morning.  I’m two tacitas into my espresso and whipping my eyelashes into shape in front of my clear acrylic vanity, my beautiful, gorgeous, gorgeous vanity.  Te digo que when I saw this vanity in the window of that little boutique in Chelsea, I said to myself Simone, nena you deserve this.  The chair is acrylic too, but I found a lace pillow to cover the seat. You know, I sit here for an hour every morning plastering and painting this face into perfection.  Girl, after a while my flat ass starts hurting.

The hair is real, and it looks fabulous no matter what I do to it. Otherwise, could you imagine? I’d never get to work on time.  I can remember when I was young, my father yelling at my mother about my long hair.  Mami would argue back, “Ay nene, Dominican blondes are so rare that is our obligation to show off all that Anglo blood we managed, by some milagro, to preserve”.  At one point my hair had grown way past shoulder length.  My mother helped me restrain it into a braid every morning so as not to piss off Papi.  I used to let all my hair out before bed, brushing it with one hundred strokes, then I would get on my knees and thank baby Jesus for such fabulous hair.  My mother and I were the only ones who found my smooth golden hair a wonderful gift from God that I should cuidar with tender love and care.  Mami was like the fucking Marilyn Monroe of our barrio.  She was one bad rubia.  I remember always catching my father groping her in the kitchen before I went to school in the morning. They took showers together at night and Mami slept in the nude. Sometimes I could make out the W silhouette of her heavy breasts as she brushed her lips against my forehead to kiss me good night.

  My parents met in the seventies in the Dominican Republic.  Mami was the only blonde for miles and miles.  Everybody was in love with her green eyes, big round ass and thick tan legs.  I will say this about Papi though, he only had eyes for her, and he still does.  I call them on the phone. Every now and then I can hear Mami as she hands the phone to my father.  She says in a deep sultry voice, Andres, amor de mi vida, el telefono, as if it were foreplay.  I hear them kiss and he picks up the phone.

I begin to dress and think about all the things I learned from watching my mother’s arduous, yet alluring, morning routine.  I sit at my vanity, back straight and legs crossed, layering my skin with foundation over quality — that means expensive as fuck —  anti-aging cream.  I use all the same brands, and line up the bottles and jars in the very same order as I remember Mami doing.  My neck and wrists are dotted with Chanel Mademoiselle eau de parfum. That’s expensive shit too. My panties are powdered with July Mar talcum powder, you know, for the sweat.  I have a lot going on down there, so it’s important.  I take my time working scented lotion all over my arms and legs, feeling closer to perfection with every stroke. I’m getting closer to the person I was born to be.  The air in the room grows fragrant with my femininity.  I try so hard.

I stuff myself into a purple micro mini and a sheer black top.  My purple bra underneath gives it that burnout effect.  I crush my big wide feet into size-eleven black pumps and take one look in the full length mirror before grabbing my black carterón, and heading out the door.  My eyes are beautiful, my hair falls into the softest waves, forming parenthesis around my breasts, my padded bra.  My legs are long and lean. Ay Simone, I think to myself every morning, you are one bad bitch.  Just like your mami.

I turn around to look at my room one more time before closing the door and locking up.  Yes, girl I have to lock up that room!  Bitches I live with are always trying on my clothes and stealing my shit.  I have two roommates and you’d think I would be raiding their closets really, you know.  Pero no, they always end up sitting on my bed, trying on my costume jewelry, spraying each other with my perfume.  I work ten hours a day uptown like six days a week.  I can’t have these whores, and I love them to death, dousing each other in my hard earned Coco. 

I make my way out of the apartment, stepping over boxes and shoes and a huge ass rainbow-swirled glass bongs.  This apartment is like a big fucking party all the time.  I’m saving to get out of here real soon.  I can’t live in the Lower East Side forever, and my building is falling apart.  I have to paint my walls fuchsia again and again because the water leaking from the ceiling turns the corner of my room into a weird maroon color that spreads. 

I finally called my father last night and asked him to lend me some money so I can start looking for another place.  I need roommates with more class. Roomates who buy their own fucking perfume.  I told my father to drop off the money after I get out of work.  I’ll just need to change my clothes before he gets here.  I certainly can’t have him see me looking like this. 

My father, Andres, is a handsome Dominican family man.  He believes that being there for his family means folding money into the palm of your hand, “Is okay,” he says.  “You don’t worry about paying me back,” always followed by a kiss on the forehead. 

He and I had problems when I was little, a lot of problems.  He is a macho man, a man’s man.  He is the guy your father would call to help your family move your shit from the second floor to the twelfth floor because the apartment up there is a little bigger.  You could call Papi to paint your house, or be the godfather of your kid.  Women of every race love Papi, even now with that big ass gold medallion propped up by a hard round beer belly.

  I was not your normal kid, but I tried really hard to please Papi. It just never seemed to be enough for him. I wasn’t enough.  One day I just stopped trying so hard.  If I couldn’t be me under his roof, then I would be me somewhere else.  It felt like I always had my big feet in two different worlds.  I rarely see my family, and when I do, I can’t go to the house in this get up.  I have to put on a pair of jeans, a tee shirt, a Mets cap, and Ay Dios mio, a pair of Converse or Nikes, to look like I fit in.  It’s as if being fabulous overwhelms people.

He didn’t hear me right.  He thought I said before work, when I clearly said despues.  I was walking up Essex to catch the F uptown.  I was like half a block from the subway when I saw him, rather he saw me.  At first I didn’t know it was him. I just figured it was another guy checking out my fake tetas. 

So here I am trying to lay low.  I’m not looking to be in a relationship, not looking to mess around.  I just focus on my job and my singing.  Yes, girl I can sing! Anyway, I don’t flirt.  I don’t look into men’s eyes and especially not ones that belong to a man wearing a big gold chain propped up by a hard round beer belly.  The dude was walking down Essex, eying me up.  He passed me by with a tired-ass piropo,Diablo Morena! Si caminas como cocinas guardame un chin del concon.” My father taught me that line when I was just nine-years-old. 

“Hola, Papi,” what else could I say? 

“Como fue,” my father asked.  I gave him a minute to take me in.  I gave him time to look at my long blonde hair and remember how my mother refused to cut it though it encouraged the boys at school to beat up on me daily.  I gave him time to recognize the green eyes that I inherited from my mother, his wife at home most likely still sleeping at this early hour.  I could see his gaze fall to my cleft chin, a reflection of his own.  His eyes wandered further down to my skinny white throat, looking for my Adam’s apple I suppose, the one that has protruded from my neck since I was thirteen-years-old.  His eyebrows were sewn together in recognition.

“Yo soy tu hijo, your son Simón.”  I don’t know why I said it the way I did.  I said it as if I was proud.  I said the words your son with like, emphasis you know?  I was coming out, I was being pulled out, I was being pushed out of the closet right in front of Papi.  One hand on my hip, my long French manicured nails grazing my skirt, and the other holding the strap of my big black purse. I lowered my voice and watched my father’s eyebrows shoot up signaling coherence, “It’s Simone now Papi, and you’re early”.

I suppose I never planned for this moment.  I never saw it coming.  There were no more words to say. My dislocated jaw wouldn’t allow it.  I couldn’t sing an answer from my diaphragm with my ribs kicked in and cracked.  I couldn’t run, I couldn’t see out of my eyes, purple like two plums sitting on top of my cheeks, Dios mio.  Someone called an ambulance and helped pick my teeth up from the dirty sidewalk.  I didn’t tell the police who it was.  They were just surprised my big black purse wasn’t stolen.