It’s been over ten years but I thought of you Gina and I couldn’t help but cry. I felt waves of pain and choked up emotion overwhelm my body making me double over and gasp for breath. I’ve buried you in the back of my mind- filed you away and fought the urge to remember you. It hurts to wonder if you’re dead or alive; and if you are still breathing- if it hurts you to draw breath from this life.
Being pretty doesn’t do you any favors in this neighborhood; instead it makes you a walking target to strike down. The dirty men trying to paw at you, the ‘homies’ trying to get you big at a random kickback, and most girls would claw you down if you made their boyfriend’s head turn as you walk by.
Yet you had heart you know? You never backed down from a fight- your angular face set in stone and “china” eyes would turn into slits under the exclamation marks of eyebrows you had. I can still see you clearly if I close my eyes: you wearing your baggy Dickies tight at the waist with that black cotton belt and big silver belt buckle, your burgundy shirt tucked in pulled tightly over your breasts that we were all jealous of.
I always felt proud that I owned Vans just like you. You’d do me up with the Jordana Lipliner Pencil in Honey, my hair slicked back and loose in the back. You made me feel like a chola as we strutted across campus; cool and accepted as you wrote “La China” next to my “La Honey” on the bathroom stalls.
You were special Gina, a beautiful girl from East L.A. that didn’t take shit but always stood by me. I was Proud to be your friend.
Why does East L.A. swallow beautiful girls like you Gina? When I saw you again you were a shell of your old self. All that was left was a crack-heads skeleton of what used to be an Aztec Princess. I wanted to throw my sweater over your body and revive you. Gone were your Latina curves – those large round breasts you were so proud of, only a flat concave chest in their place. You were hardly covered in that awful see-through mesh dress you had hanging off your frail frame. I couldn’t find the beautiful almond shaped eyes full of fire- all I saw was dull glass…