The Hidden Pale

by Jessica Castro

January 2009 "Six of the Month" Nominee

My mother and father met while working together at a factory in downtown El Paso. She was thin then, with inky long hair that kissed her waist, fresh brown freckles on her skin that were not quite the age marks that smudge her face today and wore heavy eyeliner he often caught her re-applying while she was supposed to be sewing labels onto denim. He was her supervisor and tried to hide the faded skin that lived underneath the gold band he hid in his pocket until he got in his car and drove home to his family. As a child, all I could look at whenever he came over for the weekend was the skin beneath the stowed band, the skin itself hidden from light and fresh air whenever he wasn't with us, this ring of pale skin that marked a marriage and a different family from the one he created with us. My mother never seemed to notice it, or maybe she chose not to notice it and fixate on it in the way I did as he handed me money to buy my favorite candy from the corner store, or as he reached for the knob on the radio to turn on some slow music for them to dance to. Instead, she easily allowed his branded hand to hold hers as he swung her around our living room for eighteen years to the music, always tossing her head back and laughing.


Jessica Castro lives in Austin, Texas and is quickly approaching an age when she should have things "figured out." She blogs here.