The Spymaster

Hiya readers (I have to come up with a nifty name for you guys like the Menders or something),

It’s been just under a year since last I posted and I do apologize. But have no fear, I’ll be back soon with a characteristically rambly post about all the things happening in my life this past year.

In the meantime, I’m  going to follow through with my long ago promise to upload my creative writing pieces in addition to my regular posts. (Most of these are assignments from creative writing courses so I’ll be including brief descriptions of the assignments before the story.) And now, without further ado, I present to you Lily getting her shit together and being more productive with her blog:

This was the first assignment from my fiction workshop: the spymaster. We had to observe an event happening around us, something that wouldn’t be hard in a “data rich environment” like New York. We had to observe the moment, and create a scene based on it. Rather than taking the third person approach like my classmates, I chose to get into the head of my character (I also have a big preference for first over third person so there was some bias there too).

(The quote was taken from my syllabus).


“!Que haces!” I jump as my mom’s voice cuts through Bad Bunny’s latest album.

“I have to clean the lens, ma,” I say. “That’s what the doctor said, remember?”

“How you know how to do that?” She demands. “You gonna pay for it if you break it?”

“Mami, its what I’m supposed to do.” I keep my voice low, hoping she gets the point. We’re on a crowded train. “I looked it up on YouTube. They showed me how to do it.”

“I thought you said the doctor said to do it.” Her voice is angry, but her eyes, like fresh brewed cafe before the leche are worried. I know what she’s thinking, if I can’t put my glasses back together, then, with them still finding money for Ximena’s soccer uniform, they won’t be able to afford another pair. And my eyes’ll get worse.

“You kids think you know everything.” She mutters in Spanish, hugging my baby brother, Santiago, close.

“It’s fine,” I say, carefully fitting each lens back into the frame, and trying to ignore the lady across from me and her judgmental blue eyes. I can feel other people in the train car, looking over at the loud Latino family. But I keep my eyes, the only obvious feature I have from my mother, down.

“Let her be, she knows what shes doing.”

Thank God for my dad. I love my mom, I do. And I know how hard they both work to keep us not just clothed and fed, but comfortable. But he was always ready to defend me while it felt like she was always looking for some reason to blame me.

Look, she’s putting it back together now.”

“And what if they fall out when she puts it on?” She glares at him. “You going to pay for it this time?”

It’s a mean jab since he’d been laid off a few days ago.

“Mom,” I say.

“Or you going to get a job?” She throws the words at me. And they land, right in that silence as this old ass 3 train’s lights and engine flickers out.

I want to get up, distance myself from the scene I know’s about to unfold. But doing that’ll only make it worse.

“Natalia, as soon as I find something new,” he says softly. “You can cut down on the hours. Drop one of the cleaning jobs. You make it sound like I quit, I didn’t tell them to fire me.”

I try to tune them out as the garbled voice announce that Chambers is next. Two more stops. Just two more. I don’t know why I think they’ll hold it together at dinner if they don’t care about this public train car. But I hope. Pray.

There’s a Hispanic woman next to me who shifts away, making sure our audience knows she ‘snot with us.

“Yes!” I say, jumping as my mom slaps my shoulder. I guess she’d been calling me.

“You going to put them on?” she asks. “So I can see how much damage I have to pay for.”

“Hay Ama, they’re fine!” I tell her, pulling the glasses from their case and plopping them on my nose. I shake my head a little. “You see? I put it back right, and its not blurry any more.”

“Hm.” She grumbles into Santiago’s downy curls. He’s the only one of us with hair like hers, the soft loose curl that Ximena and I can only sometimes get if we apply enough heat.

I look over at my sister, sitting next to Blue Eyes whose still openly staring at us. I roll my eyes at her, and I watch her hesitate before rolling them back. I’m jealous that she had the option to think about it.

As we pull into 14th, I adjust my glasses. Mom picks up Santiago, and we all converge at the door. I’m jostled around as people shove in even though they see us coming out, and I have this moment of triumph as my mom glances at my glasses and see that, not only are they still firmly on my face, but the lenses are still in place too. But I just smile to myself. Even if I bring it up to her, she’d never acknowledge that she was wrong. But I know it. As do Nena and papi. And, as long as they kept it together during dinner, that would be enough.


Here are a few of my other creative pieces:

I Remember (a poem)

A Seat At The Table (Together Yet Alone) a freewrite

2 thoughts on “The Spymaster

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