Read Down to the Bone Online

Authors: Mayra Lazara Dole

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Social Issues, #Homosexuality, #Lgbt

Down to the Bone

BOOK: Down to the Bone
6.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Table of Contents


Copyright © 2012 Mayra Lazara Dole


Bella Books, Inc.

P.O. Box 10543

Tallahassee, FL 32302


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher.


First published by Harper Teen 2008

First Bella Books Edition 2012


This first Bella Books edition has been augmented with substantial additional text and contains editorial changes from the original.


Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper


Editor: Katherine V. Forrest

Cover Designer: Kiaro Creative


ISBN: 978-1-59493-317-2



The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.


To Mami and Damarys, the two loves of my life.

About the Author


Mayra Lazara Dole loves papayas (slang for you-know-what but she’s honestly talking about the fruit), pineapples, finger bananas and long, cascading hair. She was born in Havana and raised in exotic Miami. The author was kicked out of an all-girl private school at thirteen due to a sizzling confiscated love note written to her by her girlfriend about their first time. She worked as a librarian assistant, ESL tutor and landscape designer until she became a full-time writer. Mayra lives in Miami with her beloved partner (aka: Astro Maniac)—she’s obsessed with astronomy, astrology and the occult and drives Mayra nuts! Dole started her writing career with picture books depicting two rebel eight-year-old girls (for sure they’ll be MAJOR lesbos when they grow up), and the first Cuban American critically acclaimed lesbian YA novel in history. She’s written essays, short stories and poetry for literary and lesbian magazines and for Hunger Mountain—the Vermont College Fine Arts journal of the arts. Mayra’s magical realism short story,
Inside the Inside
(CORNERED anthology / Running Press) and
Run for Your Life!
(THE LETTER Q anthology / Scholastic) will also be published in 2012. Oh, and she’s been a Lambda Literary YA judge, something she loves and is very proud of.

Author’s Note


I’m grateful to Bella Books for allowing me an updated, literary version of
Down to the Bone
. I LOVED rewriting the novel and hope new readers and old fans enjoy this second edition.



1—The Kiss


Today, the morning rose like a loaf of sweet banana bread. I left the house ready to start living life juicy bite by juicy bite.

It was the last day of school and we were free before lunch. And if
wasn’t the best news ever, it was also my two-year anniversary with Marlena, the love of my life. Her summer vacation started yesterday. She was expecting me at her place to celebrate (if you know what I mean). I couldn’t
to get out of the mind-numbing last class to visit her.

I was certain that soon Marlena would be in my arms. After a few hours of fun, we’d transform into all the colors of the spectrum until that kaleidoscopic nanosecond where we’d turn luminous, phosphorescent and fly . . .

But instead, I got myself into a hellish nightmare.

The instant my teacher opened her mouth and hissed like a cobra, I should have run for my life. If only I’d seen what was coming, I would still have a place to live.



I’ve just arrived at the beach by bus to clear my head and figure out where I’m headed.

I look around me.

There’s a light aqua sky. The sand is filled with people who seem joyous, as if their lives haven’t just been ruined.

A girl with a cap and surfing shorts slams congas with her palms:
Dún-prak, checke prak!

Girls in bikinis with hair flying all over the place clap and shuffle their feet to the beat.

I stand on the pier, looking down, watching my puppy, Neruda, chase sand crabs. She runs after them and barks. She gets close, and they disappear into their burrows.

I wish my life were so easy.

Just last night, my mom, Marlena and I visited my grandmother in Ft. Lauderdale. She’d finally healed from an appendix operation but still needed help with chores. I didn’t allow my grandma to move a muscle. After the three of us whizzed around the apartment vacuuming, mopping and making a racket washing and drying dishes,
said, “Your mother and I will finish the kitchen. Go on. You girls go have some fun.”

And boy, did we have a blast!

Marlena and I shut ourselves in the basement filled with packaged foods and canned goods (in case of the impending nuclear explosion, of course!) to “watch TV.”

I dipped Marlena in honey and tasted her, bit by bit.

Before you knew it, we were heading back home to pick up my little brother at a friend’s house. Everything was so perfect.



I grab Pedri’s picture from my shoulder bag. His shiny smooth face and sweet harmonica smile gives me hope. “Shyly,” he wrote on the back in his broken English, “you are a big, littol, eskinny, fat, tall, short cooko monthster. I love U berry much! Pedri.”

I walk down to the sand to get Neruda. I throw my towel under two coconut palms leaning against each other like secret lovers. The sun sparkles through fan-shaped greenery. Water laps gently along the shore.

I breathe in the salty smell that reminds me of my mom’s meals. She fried fish every Friday night. I’ll probably never eat her home cooking again. I’ll miss helping her slice, chop and mash as we prepared dinner together while listening to music. Mami’s always been generous with food. Recently, for Marlena’s mom’s birthday, she made a mouth-watering lemon pork dinner. Neighbors were invited for a feast that ended with guava shells and cream cheese, Tania’s favorite desert.

It kills me to think I’ve destroyed my mom’s life, and if I’m not careful, I’ll probably wreck Marlena’s as well.

Marlena and I met a couple of years ago when she moved a block away. She wasn’t allowed to go out much. That’s why we became homework buddies. I got her hooked on magical realism, anime PC games, karaoke and snorkeling. She turned me on to dystopian novels, poetry and chess.

A year later, without warning, our friendship came to a screeching swerve.

We were at the movies eating buttered popcorn from the same bucket. Our fingers met and lingered for an awkward moment. She spent the night. After I shut off the light and plunked down on my side of the bed, there was a minute of hesitation as we kissed each other’s cheeks and said good night.

I had no clue what would transpire between us the following day. I remember it as if it just happened this morning:

Galloping rain and blasting thunder shakes my house. Pedri is spread on the orange living room sofa, watching cartoons. My mom and her boyfriend Jaime sit in the mango-smelling dining room, talking and drinking after-dinner

Marlena and I are sprawled on my bed after dancing our heads off, listening to a mixed CD of Jaipongan, Middle Eastern and Nu Soul.

She tells me, “My parents won’t allow me to date until I turn sixteen.”

“Woah.” I shake my head. “That’s two years away. I wish they weren’t so strict and let you come to parties with me.”

She smoothes my hair away from my face and plants a kiss on my forehead. “It’s okay. At least they let me come here and spend the night.” Her black eyes sparkle. “I don’t need to go out weekends. Dancing with you is what kissing a girl must be like: the best feeling in the world.”

My heart bangs in my chest. Kissing a girl?

With a flick of the finger, she changes the music to a slow romantic bolero and just lies there searching my eyes.

I bolt from the bed, rush to the music shelf, grab a djembe CD and put it on. Heart-thumping beats vibrate the walls.

I hoist my hip-hugger button-down jeans and mess up my long, straight, sun-streaked hair so it’s crazy-wild. “Come on!”

Marlena jolts out of bed and lands in front of me. She tries to mimic my wild freestyle footwork and bouncy rhythm, but her feet get all tangled up. I rotate my hips before stepping into a twirling cha-cha-cha. “Sleek or what?”

“You’re incredible!”

The CD ends and for a second there’s sharp silence. We stand face-to-face. A whooshing wind dives in through the bedroom windows, making her long, mahogany curls wave around in the breeze. Her violet eyes seem liquid under the dim light. A beautiful sweetness pours over me.

The walls around me fade. I feel like I’m swimming inside her. Something different is happening within me. She leans into me. Her velvety lips touch mine, and I get goose bumps all over. I feel as if silvery threads of rain are covering my entire body. I’m turning into the sea, becoming one with her, melting.

We kiss for a long, long time . . .

The memory is snapped out of me when the girl stops banging the congas. The sounds are vacuumed away and it seems as if the world has stopped breathing.

I stare at the rolling waves for comfort, but can’t stop my mind from buzzing with thoughts.

I woke up way too early this morning from the anticipation and excitement I was feeling about getting together with Marlena. With one eye open, I reached for my cell on my night table and texted her:

happy 2 yrs! i love u love u love u. can’t wait to kiss u kiss u kiss u & u know what else . . .

I lowered the shades and fell back asleep. Soon thereafter, a thudding electrical storm that soaked the city woke me up just in time to catch the bus for school.

My room turned hazy and dark as I stumbled around searching for clothes to wear. I was dying to take a taxi to Marlena’s and get tangled up under the covers with her, but I didn’t allow myself that luxury.

Instead, I left for school.

Bad move.

By the time noon approached, I could barely contain myself from running out of class.

Ms. Alegre—better known as Fart Face—was up on the board writing the name of textbooks we’d need next year. What kind of a senseless thing was

I was finishing reading all the sweet, luscious texts Marlena sent me last night after my mom dropped her home—my iPhone was hidden inside my math book. Memories fly to me as if in a 3D film:

. . . tomorrow is our happy 2 yrs! remember our 1st time? ur fingers . . .

A looming presence stands before me. “Shai. Didn’t you hear my question?”

I look up. Gray-haired, wrinkly Fart Face tears the cell out of my hands.

BOOK: Down to the Bone
6.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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