Veronica, I said, whirling around to face my cousin who also starred as the evil nemesis in my life, not to be overly melodramatic or anything, because it is totally true. Veronica is eVil with a capital V. I tucked my Saint Diary behind me, making sure it was hidden.
Veronica was at the apartment trying to learn some of the Italian cookie recipes from my mother because her mother, my aunt Silvia, was determined that at least one of her three daughters would turn out to be a kitchen natural and grow up to usurp my mother at the family store. Id thought I could successfully avoid Veronicas visit, but I was wrong. My blood began to boil, but I took comfort in the fact that Veronicas outfit was way too tight and her hair was so teased and sprayed that she was the caricature of a Rhode Island Mall Rat. Remember when you used to be a nice person and people like me could actually stand to be around you? I asked, once I knew my temper was in check.
Remember when you used to not be such a total baby? Sarcasm oozed from Veronicas voice. Something maybe almond paste?was smeared down the side of her face. I bet she squeezed it straight from the tube into her mouth like a greedy glutton. You and your mother think youre so high and mighty.
Veronica . . . my mother was calling. Veronica? If you are not here to watch, you are never going to learn how to fold these egg whites into the batter properly . . . Yoohoo! Where are you?
Yeah, yeah, Im coming, Auntie, she said, rolling her eyes and disappearing back down the hall. Her footsteps thudded against the wood floor. Thud. Thud.
My cousin, the elephant.
As soon as Veronica was gone, the tension disappeared from my body. I grabbed my Saint Diary from where Id stashed it and sighed with relief.
My Saint Diaries were also my most secret possessions.
Each year on my birthday, February 14, St. Valentines Day, I began a new volume, fixing different colored pockets onto the pages of a thick book, compiling a section marked Notes for my new saint ideas (like a Patron Saint of Homework or a Patron Saint of Noticeas in Notice me, please, Andy Rotellini!). Most important of all, I chose which out of the many thousands of official saints to venerate during the year. Tradition, my tradition, dictated that St. Anthony of Padua, the Patron Saint for Lost Things, got page number one. Always.
Volume 8, the record of my fifteenth year, was rose red, my favorite color.
In the back was a section for the occasional, precious response letter from the Vatican. (Really they were rejection letters, but I liked to think of them as responses because that sounded less depressing.) I held on to these to remind myself that at least they knew I existed. For the hope that one day, I might just get through to them.
You know, The Vatican People.
Any day now, the news would arrive. My Patron Saint of Figs proposal was a winner. I could feel it.
Antonia! Sbrigati! my mother yelled, shattering this moment of hope with her Im-getting-angry voice and an Italian command that loosely translated as Get your butt off to bed immediately and dont tell me youre still praying because I wont buy it this time. Early bedtime somehow applied to me but not my cousin.
I faced Sebastian one last time, the heat of the candle flame warm on my chin. St. Sebastian, I whispered, gazing into his blue eyes, if you can help me figure out the saint thing, Id really appreciate it. Its already been thirteen days since I sent the last letter.
Antonia Lucia Labella! (Thats lou-chia, by the way, like the pet.)
Okay, one more last thing, I said, tempting the full force of Moms rage, my lips level with Sebastians now, as if we were about to kiss. Even though I know that technically in the Catholic church you have to be dead to be a saint, I really dont want to die if you can help it. Fifteen is too young to die.
Excerpted from THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD by Donna Freitas.
Copyright © 2008 by Donna Freitas.
Published in 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
Blood at the Root
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