The Mission gardens were the most peaceful place. After saying her prayers, Alicia waited and noticed the gardeners who tended the plants. She knew how much work it took to keep the flowers blooming and the pathways clear. Their home garden was much bigger than this space, but the air here held a calm spirit that lulled Alicia into believing everything the clerics taught.
The Chumash workers assigned to the yard bent over the flower patches. Big floppy hats shaded their faces. These were Nina’s people. They were not as cheery as the people Alicia saw in the village. They wore long baggy pants and stained shirts. Some used a bright cinturón, a belt, to hold up their pants.
“Ah, here you are.” The padre approached on a garden path.
“I have waited and said my required prayers, Padre.”
“Did you say them or did you also feel them, Alicia?” Padre Romo examined the girl’s face. “You still seem troubled to me.”
“No, no. I am okay, but I do have questions.” Alicia had a line prepared to say. “You have a wonderful memory for prayers and scripture. I know you have a splendid memory of the pueblo, too.”
“It is the job of a padre, Alicia, to hear confessions, to absolve and then forget.” Padre Romo sat next to her. “Your mama and papa, your uncles too, have as many memories here as I do.” His words made Alicia’s heart beat fast. Would he be straightforward with her?
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