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Estancia Aldea Norteña 1: Epifanía

January 06, 2023 11:30AM
Summary: Catalina Moreno comes from a small town on the plains but gets the chance to travel with her wealthy neighbors to Mar del Plata for a holiday. A fan of telenovelas for years, her own life takes a dramatic turn as she learns about the wider world, friendship, romance, and herself. Austen's Northanger Abbey set in 2008 Argentina.

"Epiphany," an illuminating realization or discovery, an annual Christian feast celebrating this event on January 6, the twelfth day after Christmas (Wiktionary).

Anyone who met her would say that Catalina Moreno was not destined to achieve more than a quiet, peaceful life on the plains of Argentina. Her little town of Fortuna had no train stop, few bright lights, and only as much amusement as the citizens were lucky enough to provide for themselves. Catalina herself grew up very ignorant of this poverty since her father Sr. Ernesto Moreno made a good living managing a public health clinic, aided by the one nurse, his wife. Their home was full of laughter, joy, and constant movement, what with seven children coming one after the other.

When Catalina was very little, she chased her two older brothers through the grass, rode her bicycle all over the town, and delighted to twirl in the wind or catch fireflies or anything that would bring her home with tangled hair and muddy clothes. Her cheeks were always flushed red, her eyes bright with happiness, and though she knew few things well she shared what little she possessed with anyone. Later on there were younger sisters and brother to run after her. No one could doubt when the little Morenos tore past like a storm, but there were few clouds on the faces who saw them.

Then at last Catalina grew up: by her quinceañera she had learned to appreciate a new dress and brushed hair. She loved dancing, and was proud to open the first waltz with her father. Her greatest achievement that night was not stuttering during her speech; her fondest memory was the surprise dance when she got to prance and twirl with her eldest brother Javier while everyone watched. Even good Sr. Aguirre took her hand before the cool May night was over, a man who by right of owning the largest farm in the town limits and most of the other property besides was called "everyone's boss." But he was so generous no one complained, and so kind to his neighbors the Morenos that he had always been Tío Ruy to them, just as his wife was their sweet Tía Lola.

In her final year of secondary school, Catalina proved well on her way to finding more to hope for. Tía Lola taught her to spot a fashionable skirt and wear it well; Sra. Moreno tempered this knowledge with instructions on finding bargains, sewing on buttons, and taking out hems. Both understood the value of caring for good shoes, and it was a welcome thing for Catalina to hear a compliment now and then for her looks when formerly there were only tender if vague endearments. She helped her parents in the clinic while studying for examinations to enter nursing school and devouring the latest telenovelas. It seemed she just needed the smallest opportunity, and like her favorite stars, she would rise to make something of her life.

And even though she was not abducted or jilted, and did not even discover she was adopted away from a wealthy family as a baby, at eighteen Catalina found herself about to have an adventure.

"I'm afraid Ruy is not fully recovered from his surgery," that man's wife told their neighbor as the two women sat in the Moreno living room, watching the children play fútbol outside.

"Do his knees bother him still?" Sra. Moreno asked.

"Oh, they're much better, it's true, and we are very grateful for Catalina helping us so much. She has been such a dear: why, they only sent that home nurse to us for a week, and you know old Señora Blanco is far too busy looking after the house to take care of Ruy on top of everything else."

"Well I am glad she has been useful. I was worried she might be watching too much television."

"Oh, as to that, we watch it together, and she has helped me understand the new programs. But she always checks on him during the commercials. If he needs anything we are right there to help. And when Ruy had that rough spell, and we thought we would have to get him to a hospital, Catalina remembered his medication and set him to rights. I really do not know what we would have done without her."

Sra. Moreno smiled, and hoped that meant things were settling down.

"Well, most of the pain is gone, God be praised! but he still isn't able to get around as he used to, or as much as he'd like. That is why I wanted to come over: do you think you could do without Catalina for a few weeks in the new year?"

This unexpected question stumped Sra. Moreno a moment, but she quickly answered that she was sure Catalina could remain with the Aguirres as long as they needed her. "So long as she keeps up her studies, of course."

"Well, of course, but a girl needs a holiday now and then. You see, we are planning to go to Mar del Plata after Christmas. There are so many shops, and the beach of course! I think it would be good for us to get out and about after not being able to travel for so long. Then there's this doctor recommended to us, it's a private clinic there with specialists, and they may have some further advice to give. But we really would like Catalina to come with us, and not just to look after Ruy. It will be a nice little excursion. I think all girls should get out and be admired on a boulevard a few times before they settle down."

Since Sra. Lola Aguirre was only married to her usually wise husband due to showing herself off on a boulevard, it is not surprising she would see it as a necessity of life. As Sra. Moreno had never strolled on a boulevard, whether for pleasure or work, and certainly held no idea of her daughter needing to pursue anything so frivolous, she was not altogether pleased with the idea at first. But talking it over with Sr. Moreno that night brought up other considerations, and when discussing it with their daughter the next day they stressed how this trip would allow her to meet and interview with medical professionals, how the Aguirres might still need her assistance as Tío Ruy traveled to see this doctor, and further that Tía Lola was probably lonely with no daughter of her own to present to her old friends.

"I think we may trust you to keep your head," Catalina's father remarked. "And if you will spend your time as wisely as your money, you may profit from the trip very well."

"Oh, gracias, I am sure I will!" Catalina cried, and was further impressed with her good luck when they decided to purchase a temporary phone for her to use.

There was just enough time to finish the final episodes of Teen Angels, celebrate the Navidad season, eat the Epiphany cake, and then pack to leave in the second week of January. She didn't even care that the magi no longer left her any presents; her new shoes were fitted for a much better purpose, and she could not imagine any better gift than the trip she was soon to enjoy.

Author's Note: Gracias to all the wonderful people who've read and critiqued this story, including LalalaLinoleum, Mirta Ines Trupp, Claudia Corigliano, and Tamara Zarewsky. Any remaining mistakes are completely my own.

Estancia Aldea Norteña 1: Epifanía

MichelleRWJanuary 06, 2023 11:30AM

Re: Estancia Aldea Norteña 1: Epifanía

AlidaJanuary 08, 2023 05:15AM

Re: Estancia Aldea Norteña 1: Epifanía

MichelleRWJanuary 09, 2023 12:18PM


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