Ana Marina Garza heard a child’s voice call from the other room. Friday night, the nation’s capital slept, and in the suburbs, she needed to balance her role as a mother and…her job. Sometimes she thought of neither role, and just threw herself into the work. Either one would do.
Her office sat in a far corner of the house she bought with her ex-husband. The house served as collateral for child support costs. He’d received the best deal. The house was built in a post-war boom, and since then, really needed to be torn down. She’d lost money keeping it afloat.
The friends that know her – really know her - gave her office nicknames. With its voluminous history books that Garza liked to show she’d read from cover to cover, her friends had smartly culled a few nicknames from history. Valley Forge. The Wolfs Lair. The Rubicon.
They didn’t know this was the same name Re/publica used for the Plan.
The lights in her office were dim. The only light came from her electronic tablets and peripherals. Quite a number stood open now. Each one had scanned images from archives around the world. Luckily her SoS clearance allowed her to by-pass the limitations of the world’s warring intra-nets.
Portraits and pictures hung on her walls. She’d collected many over the years, but only a few were displayed. Many were bound in gold leaf frames, built from kits she’d used with her daughter. Many portrayed battles from history – and the moment after the fighting. After the dying. When a war had been decided by one decision, one final cataclysm. Men laid wounded, colleagues hung on their last words. On some far-flung end of the earth, it always came to this. Some died alone to never know the world they’d wrought.
The picture that Garza hung over her desk dated from some global war. The Goddess of Liberty. Columbia. She wore a Grecian robe with the colors and designs of the U.S. flag. On her head, the mitre cap of liberty. She strode among a garden, and with a hand, distributed seeds to be sown. The title asked, What part will YOU have in victory?
Garza worked until the voice of her daughter could no longer be ignored.
Her daughter continued to scream bloody murder.
-Bri…I can’t…I can’t hold a conversation like this. Come in my office.-
Her daughter screamed again.
-Brianna! Come into my office if you want to talk to me!-
A great storm of energy entered the room before her daughter stepped in. When the eye of the storm arrived, it came in the form of a 13 year old daughter. Garza didn’t look up. If she did she might’ve been reminded. Fact. Her daughter looked nothing like her. More like her ex-husband, and sometimes, exactly like her mother.
Brianna looked around and snarled.
-Eeewww. How can you see anything? You need to…-
Garza turned around. She looked at her daughter. For one second she saw the resemblance between daughter and mother. The same dark brown hair and brown hair with long eyelashes that batted beneath the thick eyebrows of the first colonists of Nuevo Santander. Then the similarities disappeared, but not the pain.
-I keep the lights like this because this is how the war room of a ship is lit. So the operators can see the controls. You know…sometimes I think I’m commanding a spaceship…-
Brianna rolled her eyes, shook her head.
-SMH. Star Trek! Helno…-
Garza reached around to grab her.
-OMG! You. Did. Not.-
Garza grabbed Brianna and pulled her closer. There were teenage sounds of disgust, an attempt to resist, but all for naught. She gave up rather easily. Her father’s daughter, and no Anzaldua.
-Tractor beam locked on! Resistance is futile!-
Garza gave her a kiss on her cheek. Brianna made an eewww sound. When the adolescent whine faded into resignation, Garza resumed the interrogation.
-And what rebellion are you planning tonight?-
-Nini is having a sleepover. But I want to meet everyone at TapEx. Get a bubble drink.-
Garza gave her a skeptical look. Was this how her mother once looked at her? In search of el sedicioso?
Brianna made a sound of disgust.
-Mom! Of course not! Like you even know. Besides…I don’t feel like hanging out here if you’re going to ignore me. Bored AF.-
Garza let go of Brianna, so she could look her in the face.
-I’m not ignoring you.-
When she said it, she could hear the shallowness of those words.
Brianna twisted around.
-Well unless you think I’m going to play Star Trek…Wars…whatever…with you tonight, then you’re ignoring me.-
Garza stroked her head. She had such nice hair. An Anzaldua.
-Can’t we negotiate?-
Brianna shook her head, hopped off of her lap and folded her arms.
-I’m not negotiating with a tyrant.-
Garza laughed, Brianna didn’t.
Garza swiveled around in her chair, looked at one of her electronic tablets.
-Then you’ve forced my hand. I don’t negotiate with forces who are in open rebellion to this government.-
Garza looked at the images on the device. She had punched into Brianna’s computer to see her school work.
-I see you haven’t honored the terms of the last treaty. Your readings aren’t finished.-
Brianna protested by looking at her own device.
-Oooohhh! Like you even care! That’s from Origins and Cultures Class. And you don’t even teach me Spanish! Whenever Granma talks to me, I can’t…-
Garza silenced her with a look. This…was Nuevo Santander. All four hundred years.
-Silencio! See…you know enough. The terms stand - or you will force me to decide this matter by force of arms. Then I will dictate the terms as the victor.-
-Finna do the readings tomorrow. Promise.-
-I will make this concession. Now give your mother a kiss and tell her you love her.-
Brianna quickly leaned over and gives her a kiss. But in place of a kiss, she made a heart symbol by putting her hands together.
Garza laughed, and watched her daughter run out of the room as fast she could. You can run…the cowboy president once said.
-Call me if you need…-
Garza was alone again.
She listened to her daughter grab some things, then leave the house. Garza went back to work, her world. She looked at the main screen. There was a scanned image from an old New York Times. A burned out building dominated the screen. Half-tone flames leapt out of the top of a neo-classical building. The caption read Reichstag Fire, Nazis Blame Reds. She worked through the night.