'Veronica Street' is a novel of Los Angeles by Jenny Burman, serialized here at LA Observed. Read previous chapters.
In the rush to tell Marisol's story we've gotten ahead of the bigger picture. Fiction does that sometimes. It bolts in the direction of its choice, unseating you if you're not careful.
So, whoa, and let's back up.
Marisol remains invisible, for the most part, at school.
Lourdes has gone home crying. She is off the bus, and there's a fat tear rolling down her right cheek. "I am crying," she says to herself, not yet angry but on her way. When she gets home to the apartment...
Wait, slow down, back up. Send Lourdes home unseen.
We're following Marisol. It's an hour and some after Lourdes' first fat tear rolls. Marisol carries a brown-glass bottle with some kind of oil in it. Essential ingredients for a curse. And she carries news that her uncle Eugenio may or may not have received yet.
The timing is terrible. Eugenio has just lost his 15 acres in a tax sale a couple of days before the first birthday party of his niece, the daughter of his wife's older sister. Eugenio's wife is over the edge about the party. She has been the loser of her family--for marrying him, Eugenio, and for never having kids--and her sister has thrown a lifeline back into the family by asking her to host the party. They've been married twenty-one years, and it's the first time they've hosted his in-laws.
Eugenio's wife, Melody, has sent him to buy meat.