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My Audition Piece (Special Post)

by dimensionaltales

As promised, here is my audition piece. As it turns out, it wasn’t my story that got me a rejection, it was my undergrad GPA. So, you know, I actually feel a little bit better about that. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my little short story.

Paciencia y Fe

By Justin Pyfrom

Inspired by the musical/movie In The Heights, Paciencia y Fe is a science fiction short story that explores the theme of legacy. At the same time, it serves as a love letter to my little brother, who is part of the Latinx community.

Camilla opened her eyes and took in her surroundings. A small sigh of blissful relief exits her lips as more of the environment unveiled itself to her. It was her park. And, it wasn’t just the whole park that made her smile. It was the fact that she was in her favorite section in her park. The red bench under the tree at the lake. It was uncanny. Every detail was vivid and identical to the way she remembered. Ever her favorite bench was there; the one next to the big tree.

As she walked over to it, she let everything sink in. The buildings were as high as the heavens, each of them that become a part of her escuela at some point or another. The many trees that her grandchildren would play with the other kids in the neighborhood. It always brought a smile to her face to see kids being kids. It was her favorite pastime along with feeding the birds.

She turned to sit down and noticed a bag of bread crumbs. When she picked up the bag, the birds immediately waddled toward her. Their feet, trotting with happiness and hunger, wasted no time in surrounding her feet. A chuckle came out of her as she began to feed them. It was something she did every day. She remembered telling everybody who asked that it was her “quality time with the block”. No one ever questioned that and some would even join her from time to time.

As Camilla fed the ducks, she took a moment to look over the park for the third time. Then, she looked to see that the sun was indeed bright, but not enough to hurt her eyes. She didn’t feel any discomfort from staring at it. Moreover, the weather was clear; there was no wind.

Eso es extraño, she thought to herself. Suddenly, everything clicked for her and she let out a light chuckle before finally saying, “I know you’re here.”

Then, just as quickly as a light-heartedly “Seriously?” was heard, a young man appeared next to Camilla with a smile. He looked to be in his late-teenage years and wearing a black dress shirt, vest, jeans, and formal shoes. His appearance was something she had not expected and he looked to be used to it. “You know, immersion is already difficult to pull off. But it’s damn near impossible for you lots.”

“It’s because we already know what you’re coming,” Camilla pointed out with a motherly tone.

“Right,” the teen plopped his head into his palms, “Can’t blame me for trying. It is a neat trick, right?”

Camilla chucked another handful of bread crumbs, “But why all of this? Shouldn’t you just take my soul and be done with it.”

The teen arched his eyebrows for a moment before laughing, “That’s never going to get old.” Seeing Camilla with a blank expression, he explained, “I’m an angel of death – not my boss. Name’s Abraham.”

“Camilla,” she nodded. Then, she stopped for a moment before adding, “Actually, it’s Camilla Eugenia Yamilé Irma. But everyone called me ‘Abuela Camilla’ – or just Abuela.”

Abraham blinked, “Called?”

“Well, given that you’re here…”


“I told you,” Camilla smiled, chucking another handful of crumbs, “when you are a certain age, we’ve come to expect you eventually.”

“Well then,” the angel smiled, “Pleasure to meet you, Senora Camilla.” He snapped his fingers to make an identical bag of bread crumbs appear in his hands. “So, why the park,” he began to feed the birds, “why not your birthplace or your apartment with your grandkids?”

“You’re the angel. Shouldn’t you know?”

Abraham shrugged at the question. “Maybe. But I’ve learned that people of a certain age love to share their stories.”

“You’re not here to reap me,” she asked, flinging more crumbs at the birds. Camilla was a woman who lived her life on auto-pilot for most of her youth. The only time she got a chance to breathe was at the park, feeding the birds. “Because,” she added with a tone of humbleness, “I’m ready.”

“He gathers that,” Abraham concurred with a smile, “but he’s waiting for something.” Camilla paused to look at the young man with a look expressing explanation. However, she was only met with a shrug and a look that says “You know what I know”.

Paciencia y fe,” she sighed, giving a small nod.

He tilted his head. “Hm?”

“This community,” Camilla looked out at her surroundings, “has such a history that’s always evolving. Changing with the time. Whether it was for better or worse, we always had to move along with it. Some changes were more overwhelming than others. So, when that happens, I always did two things.”

“Feed the birds,” Abraham guessed.

She nodded, “And repeat ‘Paciencia y fe’.” She gestured to the whole park. “The community may change but this park was always frozen in time. I think that’s why I loved it so much.”

As she spoke, the park gradually came to life, occupying itself with the people of the community. Kids playing tag, teens playing football and American football with each other and the adults, and women gossiping about the latest current events. She even saw the usual men using the environment to work out. And, all the while, as everyone greeted her and welcomed her, Camilla could remember always being there for her community – either by feeding the birds or handing out food and water for everybody. Seeing all of this made her smile wide as she looked at Abraham. “Nice trick, little ángel.”

“Well, you’re doing most of the work,” he cited with a nod and matching smile. He watched as everybody greeted her in their native tongue as well as take a moment to either check in or check up on her. “You were quite the popular one.”

Camilla laughed, “Comes with age, hijo.” As she pointed to each of the adults in the park, Camilla talked about how she either taught them as their teacher and/or tanned their hide when their parents weren’t around. He further explained that the role of a teacher doesn’t stop in the classroom. That being a teacher is only half of the job, especially for the ones who didn’t have parents.

“And what about the ones with parents?”

“Not all parents are capable – or willing,” she sighed before going into another explanation. He went into detail about how the majority of her students were like most of the kids in her community. They had loving partners who were struggling, being forced to choose between paying the rent or buying groceries. She knew that they were kids carrying an unfair burden and didn’t want them to lose what was left of their youth.

“How did you do that?”

“I did what mi madre did,” she mused with a gingerly toss of bread crumbs, “And her mama before her.” She turned to Abraham, who was listening with great enthusiasm and gave a smile that would give to all of the kids. “You just show them that you’re there. That you will always be there.” She gave him a little nod before tilting her head. “That’s really what every child needs. To know that you’re always there to listen.”

Abraham took a moment to feed the birds with her. Camilla could tell that the silence was something that he wasn’t accustomed to. Moreover, it was evident that there was a question weighing on his mind. “Most of the parents didn’t appreciate my ‘meddling’ and thought they could scare me.” It was the look of shock revolting from a teenage angel of death that told her everything. She had been used to this response but it was also clear that he hadn’t experienced much in his past life. “Oh, don’t worry, cabrito. I had my mother’s spirit,” she gingerly stressed with a smile, “Stubborn, tough, and with a strong backhand. I even had my chancletas ready for them.”

“Them.” Abraham gave a puzzled look as he wanted to confirm, “You mean the kids?”

No, hijo mío, los padres,” Camilla laughed as she went feeding the birds, “I’ve hit more of them with my chancletas than their children.”

Chancletas,” Abraham struggled to repeat.

Camilla chuckled as she pointed to her wiggling flip-flops.

Abraham’s eye widened at that statement. “You hit the parents – with your scandals?”

Camilla couldn’t help it. She let out a laugh that caused the birds to fly away for a second before quickly returning to her feet. She then looked back at the angel as she asked, “How many Latin abuelita have you spoken to?”

He took a moment before answering, “I think you’re the first one, senora.”

She nodded, let out a “Hm”, and explained, “Well, mi hijo, we give respect to everyone so we demand the same from – and for – everyone. We don’t care about your position or status. Respect is something you’re given at birth so it’s something that needs to be shared.”

“I get that,” he nodded.

“In fact,” she grinned, “Let me tell you about one stubborn cabrona.” As Abraham leaned in, Camilla regale the young angel on how she had to “parent” a mother. She spoke about how it was becoming public knowledge that the mother was more interested in being a party girl than a responsible adult before the news got to her house. Being raised by a single mother, she was raised with the understanding that it was unacceptable for a mother to put any before her child. But, when she confronted the mother to express her concerns, the mother didn’t want to hear any of it. So, she took a more physical approach.

“You hit a parent,” Abraham widened his eyes in complete shock.

“Hijo,” Camilla arched her eyebrows, “hit means one. I whipped her. I may have been a school teacher but I’m also a parent.”

“You were a school teacher?” His tone was more of disbelief than quizzical.

“Si,” she nodded. Abraham assumed she was focusing more on the question than the tone. “I was a maid before that. With my mommy, while working my way through college.” She paused to think about something before adding, “Dealt with a lot of cruelty from a lot of entitled fanáticos.” She closed her eyes for a moment to hear every hateful thing she and her mother had to listen to. You better clean this mess! You better learn English! You better not be late! You better pull your weight! But then she opened her eyes and just smiled, “But it was all worth it in the end.”


“Aye, si, mira,” Camilla pointed to the three kids playing football. Abraham could see that two boys were in their school uniform while a younger girl was in typical street sportswear. All of whom were enjoying each other’s company. “Mi tres Ángeles.”

Abraham took a single look at them. He saw that they were all of different skin colors and body types and felt as though he had to state the obvious. “They look nothing alike.”

No me diga,” she quipped, “but they’re brothers and sisters, nonetheless. I made sure of that.”

“You raised them?”

“Claro,” Camilla said with pride, “I mean I raised everybody on this block at some point or another.” She pointed to the bigger of the two boys and introduced him as Jeremy, before explaining that she found him trying to steal from a bodega. He was always hungry and his father was either too drunk or too high to feed him leaving him with no choice. So, she decided to not only stop Jeremy – but also help him. Soon, Jeremy was staying over every night and, eventually, he was living there with his father being none-the-wiser.

“What about the other one,” Abraham pointed to the boy running next to Jeremy. The boy was shorter than Jeremy but a little bit bigger than him.

“Oh ho ho,” Camilla chuckled with motherly glee, “Jeremiah, mi pequeño alborotador. He found me, believe it or not.”

“I can, actually,” Abraham smiled, “You seem to be quite popular.”

“Not popular, hijo,” she shakes her head, “But I am known. So well-known that Jeremiah found my house after he ran away from home. His mom was someone who had no problem with scaring and lying to get what she wants and everybody was afraid of her including Jeremiah.” She stared at her kids before continuing, “The boy was terrified when he came to me…and his mother was furious. She tried to scare me and I tore into her with my chancletas – in front of everybody. Gave her a good hiding.”


Camilla laughed, “Well, my young angel, one thing everyone in my community knows is I have one rule when it comes down to kids: You don’t hurt them in any way.” Again, she looked at her kids and nodded her head towards the young girl, “Carla, my youngest one, her parents gave her to me when she was a baby.”

“That’s heartbreaking,” Abraham held his chest, “I mean…that’s really heartbreaking.”

Si,” Camilla nodded, “But it happens. She didn’t have the maturity or the finance to take care of a baby. She cried for hours before leaving so she could get her life back on track. I don’t know if she did or not. But all I know is that she never came back for her and I became her legal guardian.”

Abraham arched his eyebrows, “What about their birth parents?”

She shook her head to the question before replying, “Never knew them.”

Abraham, “None of them?”

“They never asked,” she shrugged, “Plus, they’re out living their lives now.” She pointed to each of them as she said, “Teacher. Soldier. Traveler. All with a successful career and all with wonderful families. They’re doing just fine on their own which means, in their eyes, I’ve done my job right. And, because of that, they didn’t see a need in knowing their parents.”

“They didn’t want to know them?”

El pasado es el pasado,” she waved her hand in dismissal. “I always taught people to never dwell on the past. Look but never stay.”

“Even you?”

“Especially me, papito,” Camilla confirmed, “I’ve seen so much pain in my youth. But it is all outweighed by the good that I’ve done for my community. Well, I think it does. You could never be sure since…you know?”

“Yeah, I know,” Abraham agreed as he continued to watch Camilla’s final moments. “So, what about your grandkids? What’s going to become of them?”

“How do you mean?”

“Aren’t you worried?”

Camilla shook her head, “Not particularly.” She resumes feeding the birds with a grin on her face. “That’s the thing about being a mother to some and a grandmother to many more, papito. I give support and create a foundation so they can get up if they fall.”


She knew what he was about to say next and she just kept feeding the birds. “They’re going to be fine, Abraham,” she stressed. As she flung the last bit of the bread crumbs, Camilla rose from her seat to look at Abraham. “I know they will.” Then, a laugh burst out of her, realizing the irony of her surroundings. “Take about freezing the moment, huh?

Abraham smirked at that comment; a reaction that she didn’t see coming. She was about to ask about it only for him to put a finger to his mouth. Then, he moved his finger to his ear. Camilla followed the gesture only to hear a faint melody.


She looked at Abraham whose smile grew a little wider. As he remained in his seat, his arms stretched out across the bench and his head leaned back as he listens.


Camilla took a moment to try and find the source. However, Abraham, without much movement, just shook his head, again, motioning her to listen.

Alabanza a dona Camilla, senor…

Camilla watched as Abraham gestured to the street behind him. She could see everyone in the community gathering around her place. With her three now-grown children leading them, everyone held their candles and raised them to the sky as they sing “Alabanza”. Her three now-grown children are in the front, leading them.


“I suppose you’ve influenced more people than you thought,” Abraham stood up.

Letting out a heavy sigh of relief, Camilla looked up at the heavens as she said, “Ay, Mama, look what we did.”

“Are you ready,” he stretched out his hand towards her, “because I think it’s time.”

“As I said,” she returned the gesture, “when you’re my age, you’re always ready.”

“Are you sure?”

Paciencia y fe, papito,” she smiled warmly.

“Right,” he nodded, “Paciencia y fe. I really like that.” Abraham gingerly lifted himself and Camilla off the ground. He looked up towards the heavens and let their spirits soar higher with each graceful memory.

“So, did my mom and her mother before her,” Camilla smiled, “You think I’ll see them, again?

“I don’t doubt, Senora Camilla,” Abraham smiled, “I mean…if they are anything like you.”

“They’re better, hijo. I can promise you that.”

“Then I can’t wait to meet them.”

I hope you enjoyed the story. Please don’t forget to follow me on my social media platforms (TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Goodreads) on my web page’s right side. Also, I do love hearing suggestions of what books to read outside of my norm (Science fiction and fantasy) as I am a part of the Goodreads’ reading challenge for 2022. My goal is to read 180 books this year and I’m already at 150. August is going to be the month of heaving audiobooks and writing.

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