Slave of the House
Late one afternoon, there was a knock at the door, and Mom
After hugging the man who was standing there, she turned to us
with a rare smile. “Children, this is your Uncle Ramon. He will be
staying with us and take care of you. Come, give him a hug.”
The moment I set eyes on him, a chill raced over my arms. I was
wearing shorts and a sleeveless blouse, but I felt naked, the way he was
The good part of Uncle Ramon’s arrival was that I could go back to
school, since he could take care of Rosa, Natalia, and Javier. But from the
late afternoon on, we kids spent a lot of time alone with Uncle Ramon,
because Mom and Dad were both working two jobs and were around
The first day I came home from school, Uncle Ramon stood on the
stoop, eyeing me with a crooked grin. “Ceci” he said, (pronouncing it
“Sessy”), “your mother wants you to clean the house, cook dinner, and
wash all the dishes afterward. She said you were to leave nothing over
for the cockroaches.”
“Sure,” I said, pretending not to care that Mom made me to do
all the dirty work. Rebeca was only one year younger, and could have
helped me with the cooking and cleaning and everything else. But
Mom wanted me to be the slave of the house, and I had no choice. I
knew from past experience that if I refused, I would receive one of her
atomic pinches and have to spend a few hours in the closet. Doing all
the housework left me exhausted, so I had little time or energy leftover
for my homework, and I sometimes fell asleep in class.
Uncle Ramon would still ogle me from time to time in that strange,
glassy-eyed way, especially when I wore shorts.
One day, I summoned the courage to approach my mom with my
fears. “Uncle Ramon sometimes looks at me in a funny way.”
My mother glared at me. “What’s wrong with you? Are you crazy?
Don’t start any problems with your uncle. He’s helping us out.”
“I’m not starting any problems, Mom. I just don’t like the way he
looks at me. You and Dad are hardly ever home, and I’m scared to be
alone with Uncle.”
She planted her fists on her hips. “If you say one more bad word
against your uncle,” Mom shouted, “I will have your dad punish you!”
Mom never believed anything I ever said to her about anything.
Uncle Ramon walked in right after this, and probably heard
everything through the window.
Now he knew, no matter what he did, my mother would take his
One night, after I put my little sisters to sleep in our queen-size bed,
with them on the inside so that the wall protected them from falling off,
I was awakened by the creaking of the floor. My eyes shot open to see Ramon
leering down at me. He had that same look that I tried to tell my mother about.
He put his hand over my mouth, and whispered in my ear, “You be quiet.
If you’re not, I’ll tell your mom and dad you’re a liar.”
I was so afraid of what he was going to do to me, but even my little ten year old
mind knew what was coming. I squeezed my eyes shut so tight blocking out what
was happening to me.