[A blast from the past! Josefina de Castillo, happily married to Manuel Castillo, rediscovers her passion for a redheaded priest. And worse yet, he’s now a Bishop!]
Estimada Señora Mariana,
I’ve heard talk of your great wisdom, throughout the the Viceroyal Court of the Marques and Marquessa de Condera, even from the brilliant and beautiful Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. I am at my wits’ end, and beg your advice.
I am here in the Marquessa’s court, where I serve her and learn poetry from the nun, but a terrible thing has happened.
Actually, Madam, many terrible things have happened: the Marques has fallen in lust with me–he is no more capable of love than a table is–and has chased me with his poxy member throughout the castle; my mentor and inspiration, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, has written stunning poetry that enrages the Marques and our patron, the Marquessa, and possibly the Inquisition; and to my shock and surprise, the visiting Bishop has turned out to be Father Alonso, whose red, flowing locks and gentle lessons first excited my love of poetry and, to this poor motherless girl, mankind, when I was still a girl in my widowed father’s estate.
When I glimpsed Father Alonso, or now His Grace, the Bishop, as I must call him, my heart stopped beating, my lungs took no breath, and I felt my entire body grow both hot and cold. Hardly the correct reaction at the sight of His Grace, a holy man, on the part of a married woman. For yes, I am now married to Manuel Castillo Coronado, wealthy landowner and handsome, virile, and to my chagrin, unfaithful.
Oh, this is a long, tangled story. Let me come to my point: His Grace asked me to meet him in the castle library, but when I arrived, he was behind a curtain, giggling–yes! a Bishop, giggling!–with Sor Juana! And when I made my presence known, Sor Juana left, and Father Alonso, for so I always think of him, embraced me with less than holy intent.
Help me, Madam Mariana! Should I leave the castle? Return to my marital home? Polish the Bishop’s scepter? Oh, and before I forget, I believe I am with child…again.
Josefina Maria del Carmen Asturias de Castillo, a sus ordenes
Dear Doña Josefina,
O.M.G. That’s what we’ll say a few centuries later when we hear about things like this. It’s a very pious statement, as we have all become quite religious. It stands for Oh My God, the same way you abbreviated I kiss your hands (beso vuestras manos) into BVM.
So, you’re really in a pickle. (A form of preserved cucumber melon…)
Dare I ask, do you know whose child you’re carrying?
O, esteemed Señora Mariana,
Alas, I do know.
Josefina the miserable
Doña Josefina, you are indeed in dire straights. No, not the band… oh, never mind. So, let me give you some ideas.
First, you should know that Sor Juana is going to be so famous that she will be known for her brilliant poetry and her daring letters even four-hundred-plus years after your time. What does she have that you don’t? You’re both beautiful, you are both daring, you both push the boundaries of what’s permitted…
What she’s got is imagination. She dares to see what isn’t there, and see the truth of what is there. She’s got the gift of words, and the gift of sight. You are beyond lucky to be apprenticing your poetic career to hers.
But she’s also going to get in a lot of trouble, because times being what they are, the Inquisition is looking over her shoulder, and, I’m sorry to say, over yours too. But you’ll make it, I promise.
So…what to do about the babe gestating in your womb, likely the spawn of a red-headed, immoral, advantage-taking priest. What’s the difference between the Bishop, aka Father Alonso, and your husband Manuel? They both seem to think that men have all the rights and women have none. Both believe that they can put their scepters where they don’t belong but only women get the blame. As Sor Juana would say, men fog the mirror, then complain about its lack of luster.
BUT, Manuel is dark and His Grace is redheaded and blue-eyed. A hundred and thirty years before Mendel’s genetics (oh, never mind!!!) you know that if the child is fair there’ll be H E Double Toothpicks to pay.
So, let’s use our imaginations. Have you ever heard of the legend that a child born during a lightning storm will have all the color bleached from him? No? Well that legend exists as of now. You even have an aunt that was blonde and green-eyed, because she too was born in a raging storm.
You say Manuel has green eyes? So much the better.
Luckily you’re due at the beginning of the rainy season, so just make sure that you go into labor when the gods of lightning and thunder have gone mad in their heavens. And make sure you sleep with Manuel a few times, before you start to show. In fact, if there’s a lightening storm any time soon, jump his bones. This way, if the baby is born on a sunny, blue-sky day, all you need to do is change the legend, from conception to birth.
If men could count, we’d all be in trouble!
Good luck, and keep me posted.
Happy 10 year anniversary to Josefina’s Sin, Simon & Schuster 2011