Luz Vargas is a promising young Latina writer from Washington Heights, a predominantly Dominican neighborhood in New York City. Who upon receiving top honors for her short story, “Here and There” from the prestigious Quisqueya Writers of Tomorrow Association, Luz’s boyfriend, Luke, suggests a couple’s getaway to the Dominican Republic where he plans to propose. But when the trip to the Island brings her face to face with a past love, Luz is torn between honoring her commitment to Luke and revisiting an island romance.
The story is told through a series of vignettes that chronicle Luz’s struggle to reconcile her American identity with her Dominican side.
Loving in Fiction
I lost my virginity at age 23 to a boy I barely knew from a third world country. The story goes, the one I told my family and tried to convince myself of, that I waited till my wedding night to lose it. Although I did lose it to the boy that would eventually become my first husband I did not wait till my wedding night but that Catholic guilt did drive me to marry him even though I did not like him very much.
The details of that first encounter have been buried deep within my subconscious because the experience was both frightening and exhilarating. The truth lies within the fictionalization of Luz and Henry's first date in my novella, "Luz." Easier to recount and digest under the guise of fiction.
The first time Luz and Henry were together it happened out of nowhere. One minute they were watching ESPN in the bedroom and the next his hand was underneath her blouse. Luz could feel her face turn red; her ears also reddened and burned as they often did whenever she was embarrassed or really angry as he pinned her on the bed. He must have outweighed her by at least eighty pounds; she squirmed underneath him and asked him repeatedly what he was doing, to which he responded, “Shhh.”
He asked Luz if she wanted “it,” and she asked him, “What exactly are you planning on giving me?” He laughed, unzipped his pants, pushed up her skirt, pulled down her pink panties and forced himself inside her. Luz squirmed but ultimately gave in, taking in the musk that exuded from his body.
Perhaps to understand my allure to someone who would go on to break my heart countless times we have to start at the beginning.
Boys never liked me, heck they don't really like me now. In the 7th grade after weeks of pretending to care or know anything about Capoeira, a Brazilian form of martial arts, I finally got the nerve to ask this 8th grader if he liked me.
He smiled shyly and begged me to change the subject but I persisted and changed my tactic.
“What don't you like about me?" I had the balls to ask.
He shook his head and declined to answer.
I continued to badger him and promised that I wouldn't get offended.
He finally gave in and said, "you're not developed" pretending to cup giant breasts.
The jokes on him I grew into an ample 38E.
My eyes immediately watered.
I waved him off, muttered "whatever" (it was the 90s after all) and ran home.
In those days I wasn’t fat. I was a scrawny tomboy with horrible posture. I spent most of my time looking down at my feet, avoiding eye contact. I found solace in my writing and in creating characters that weren’t as socially awkward as me. I wrote about love before I had ever experienced it and continue to live out my wildest adventures on the page.
Throughout the years I’ve experienced dating, love and loss but nothing beats the sweaty palms, rapid heart beat and uncertainty of a first kiss with someone you are falling in love with. Through fiction I get to watch my characters fall in love and fumble and it’s almost just as exhilarating as experiencing it for yourself.