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Feb 21, 2010 at 12:53pm
by Joy
Handling with Care

Jason Brown opened the file in front of him and pushed a button on the phone on his desk.

“Let the next patient in, Evelyn.”

“Right away, Dr. Brown. She is the last one for today.”

~Miranda Gutierrez is seven years old. She believes she is cursed,~ the referring pediatrician wrote. Gutierrez…ending with an –ez. It reminded Jason of another name, a common name, Sanchez …Jason had found out how common the name Sanchez was when he had searched up and down the west coast for a Sanchez.

~She believes she breaks the things she touches. She gets very nervous in her daily life because of that. Her schoolteacher reported she was sometimes reluctant to hold a pencil or pen even though she didn’t break them every time. Otherwise, she is quite normal and healthy. Nevertheless, I think she can use some counseling. Attached is her medical report.~

The opening of the door and the tap tap of a cane made Jason look up.


She stopped, feigning surprise, and forced a short laugh. “Hello, Jason. I thought it might be you, even though in this country so many Dr. Browns exist.” She sounded hesitant.

He stood up, wordless and overwhelmed, watching her run her hand through her auburn hair falling in waves on her shoulders

He wanted to hold her tight, just as he had, a decade ago. It was as if not a minute had passed since then. He felt it, still. Nothing had taken away from his intimacy toward her; an intimacy born simply of thinking of her so often, of missing her, and of not finding her in other women. He shook his head to bring himself to the present and realized she was leaning on a cane.

“Please, sit down. This must be Miranda. Hello, Miranda.” He couldn’t believe he could keep his voice low and even. He waited to sit until they did.

“Hello,” The little girl said meekly, her eyes cast at her shoes. She was a thin child with tight lips, and her hair, auburn like her mother’s, was held back by a ribbon.

“What happened to your leg, Natalia?”

“A simple fracture. It is healing nicely. It’s been a couple of months.”

“Sorry about that. I’m glad it is healing, though.”

He suddenly remembered her visit was about her child.

“What seems to be the problem with Miranda?”

“I think it is her imagination gone wild, but her pediatrician thought we should nip it in the bud. Miranda was apprehensive about coming here.”

Jason noticed Miranda wriggling uneasily. He got up, walked to the door, and held it open.

“Miranda, I’d like to talk to your mother alone for a few minutes. Would you please wait outside, near Evelyn?”

The girl walked toward him and dipped her head as she exited the room.

Jason turned toward Natalia. Instead of going to his desk, he sat near her on the couch. Her eyes lifted to his hair; afterwards her gaze locked with his for a second. She blushed and looked away.

“I searched for you,” Jason said. “From L.A. to Seattle…Why did you go?”

“I didn’t want to go, but I had to. My parents took me to Michoacán. I finished school there.”

Jason leaned toward her. Natalia continued. “Then, after Alejandro, Miranda’s father, I found a job with a TV production studio. When the Studio moved to Miami, I came with them.”

“And they let you? Your parents?”

“It was very hard, but I fought them. They didn’t like it, but...” She shrugged.

“What do you do here, what kind of work?”

“I’m a set designer.”

“Are you…married?”

“I was. Alejandro was killed during a hold-up in Mexico City while he was delivering goods. It wasn’t so good, the marriage, I mean. The whole thing, that, and my parents…I rebelled…at the end. What about you?”

“Never married. Four years ago, I moved to Miami. Sorry about Miranda’s father. It must have been difficult.”

“About Miranda…” She blinked her eyes several times. A mark for a person trying to change the subject? Jason straightened up. Natalia continued. “When we left Mexico three years ago, my mother cursed us. You know how they are.”

“Yeah. They don’t like gringos. They never liked me.” But then his parents had not liked Natalia either. According to them, Natalia did not belong with Jason but with the other migrant workers who toiled in their vineyard.

“Well, Miranda heard her, but it didn’t bother her much then. That is, until I broke my leg. We were walking together when I fell. She thought she had something to do with that. Also, she is a bit careless and breaks things easily.”

Jason looked away from her. Watching her was making his mind wander, but here she was, in front of him, telling him of her daughter’s problem. Her daughter by another man.

“You said something about a curse.”

“Oh, my mother didn’t mean anything by that. She was just so mad at me.”

“But a curse could have a lasting effect on a small child, right?” Jason recalled how some Latinos believed in curses. If somebody put a curse on someone, bad things would happen to that person.

“I suspected that, but Miranda’s problem happened later, after I broke my leg.”

“All right, Natalia. I see. I’d better talk to Miranda now. Alone, if you permit me.”

He arose and held out his hand to her, but ignoring him, she leaned forward on the cane. When the spring mechanism recoiled, she sank down. He reached and took her hand and guided her up with his other hand. When he held her hand, he felt her pure essence, her warmth, bursting into millions of brilliant colors, all of them going right through him. Once she straightened up, she pulled her hand back, and Jason realized she was backing off, trying to stand on her own.

He wanted to touch her again as they walked to the door but did not dare. She was, after all, was his patient’s mother.


Miranda sat across from Jason, answering his questions about her school, the weather, and Disneyworld where she had been to, a year ago. Once Jason thought she felt comfortable talking to him, he asked, “How did your mother break her leg?” She quickly looked away, her jaw trembling.

“I was walking near her. I held her skirt and she fell.”

“You held her skirt and she fell?”

Miranda nodded.

“Do you think your touching her had something to do with her falling?”

She looked at him. For the first time, he noticed the color of her eyes: hazel with specks of bright yellow light, shooting out rays at his eyes. Not like Natalia’s, but someone else’s.

“I break everything,” she said.

“What was the first thing you broke? Do you remember?”

“My father. But I am not very sure of that. I didn’t want him go to Mexico City. I held his leg. I was four years old then.”

“I think I may be mistaken…Hmmm…Your mother said some other people had something to do with that.”

She nodded. “Yes, but the worst of it came after we left Michoacán.”

“Why? What happened there?”

“My grandmother got really angry. She didn’t want us leave. So she put a curse on us.”

“A curse! Now that’s something. Did you want to stay in Michoacán?”

“No, I wanted to come with my mother. I don’t like it there. But now I am cursed.”

Jason did not argue. Miranda was convinced. He had to find some way, a roundabout way, to reach this child.

“You came with your mother to Miami, right? But you didn’t break the plane, did you?”

“It doesn’t happen like that. Not all the time. But when it happens…” Her voice broke off.

“That must be scary. I know I’d be scared if things and people broke, after I touched them.”

Miranda stood up and walked to Jason’s desk. She took the felt tip pen on his desk. She broke it apart and dropped it in front of Jason.

“See? It is like that.” She stared at him.

“Yes, I see, Miranda. The pen broke because your mind accepted it to break. A curse becomes a curse when we accept it.” Miranda raised her eyebrows. Skeptical. Jason thought. “But there is a faster way to undo curses. Did you know that?”

“There is?”

“Yes, there is.” Jason reached into a drawer and pulled out a blank envelope. Then he put the felt tip pen into it. “Now, let’s go talk to your mother about this.”

Jason led Miranda into the waiting room.

“Natalia, I don’t want you to get up again. So let’s talk here. Miranda and I have to undo a curse. Afterwards, we’ll take it from there.”

“What? How?” A quaver of disbelief slipped into Natalia’s voice. While Jason watched her mouth move, something like a breeze traveled up his torso and teased the back of his neck.

He paused to clear his throat. “I live by the beach, a perfect place to bury old, broken things and curses, too. Miranda and I need to bury some things by the light of the moon. Would you agree? If you could bring her…or if you would let me pick her up…whenever you wish.”

“Oh, Jason…” Her face lit up when she noticed Jason’s fingers sliding up her left arm. “Yes, of course, we’ll come. As soon as possible.” She hesitated, then she placed her right hand over Jason’s hand and squeezed.


The beach shimmered and sparkled as if lit by a huge lamp. Ahead of them, on the water, the reflection of the moon rippled in broken ringlets, broken by the waves. The waves of time Jason thought. Time had a way of changing so many things. Yet, so much stayed the same.

He stuck the shovel deep into the sand, lifted a clump of grass, and tossed it aside. After he shoveled out a hole about a foot and a half in diameter, he stopped. Leaning on the shovel, he said, “Now, Miranda, drop all the broken things into the hole.”

Miranda hesitated for a moment, but she moved forward and opened the bag, then let the felt-tip pen and several other broken objects fall into the hole. Jason covered the hole and tamped the sand down with his feet.

“See, we buried the broken things. We buried the problem. For it to stay buried, you must accept the burial. Now, tell me, do you accept this burial, Miranda?”

“Yes,” Miranda said. “I accept. What I touch won’t get broken anymore.”

“If things somehow get broken, they are broken by accident, right?”


“We’ll talk more about this. You’ll come and see me several times. Will you be up to it?”


“Miracle,” Natalia chirped, leaning on her cane. “You got her to agree with everything you say, Jason.”

“Natalia…”The words Jason wanted to speak came rising up to her throat, all of them wanting to push to the surface. He felt pressure gathering around his chest. He held out his hand. Natalia took it. “If only I could convince her mother, too…”

“Try me.” Natalia’s voice energized. “I’m game.”

1873 words (MS word count)
"Handling with Care [13+]
Entry · 02-21-10 12:53pm
by Joy

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