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La Don-a: The Rise of the Swan - 2

Updated: Apr 21

Author's Note: Warning this chapter of this Historical YA contains domestic violence, child abuse and mentioned/implications of rape.


2 Cups of Water: To the glass being as full as you let it be


“In those times the world wasn’t in the best state especially early years of my childhood, the country was still going through the last years of a World War so a lot of the men were still off fighting and the few that came back were a dark shadow of their former selves. It was pretty brutal to see almost like they came back possessed or another person came back in their bodies. It hit the people that stayed back home hard not only the change in their love ones but the affect of the war in general. A lot of things changed because of the war but a lot of other things were brought to light as well…” Geraldine paused and she seemed to think of her next words carefully. It was almost as if she was weight the pros and cons of what she was about to say.


“What do you know about Elementals?”


“Not much, just that they are extremely rare and that the war might have been started by one…” The younger woman found the question strange while Elementals are illegal, the debate in Capitol hill is still going to decide if they should be.


“That’s not completely accurate, but they are rare. The truth is that no one knows how they came to be or why, there are only speculations and assumptions. Some said they were spawns of demons cursed to wreck havoc and mayhem while others claim them to be angels whose love and curiosity for humans made them fall. But there is one thing that was agreed on by all, whether they were demon spawns or fallen angels, Elemental Sensors -or simply Elementals as they were often called- were definitely blessed by some greater being, whether that being was good or bad was a matter of opinion.”


“What does that have to do with anything…?” She stared confused not understand what Elementals would have to do with the older woman's story although there are rumors that one of her sisters was an Elemental.

“It’s all part of the story.”


“Well, I do not know much as we weren't really taught about them when I was in school, all we are told is that they are dangerous and we should stay away.”


“Then I'll tell you the basis, they are individuals who are blessed with the ability to manipulate and control one or more natural elements as well as possess an enhancement on one or more of their senses. The quantity varied depending on many factors that have yet to be figured out by scientist but the one remaining fact was that each Elemental was able to manipulate one element and possessed one enhanced sense.” Suddenly Helen could understand why everyone warns about them and why those in Washington DC are so eager to put restraints on them. As she mused Geraldine kept talking almost like a professor giving a lecture uncaring if its students listened or not.


“These powers came in three different levels; they are low, medium and full. The most common were low level Elementals which were people with the ability to manipulate already existing elements and with senses that were slightly above average humans but lower than the average animal. These Elementals could pass off as normal humans with good genes. Low Elementals were dependent on being close to their element. This limited their abilities and made them no more than normal humans if not in access to their element.”


“This is all fascinating but…”


“Do you want to hear the story or not?” For the first time since they started Geraldine snapped and it made the younger woman jump, she was remained how truly dangerous this woman was despite her appearance of wise and caring older sister. Geraldine Salazar was the most dangerous woman in America and very closed to top of the list around the world. This was the woman that had killed many for less than what Helen has done. The younger woman wanted to plead for forgiveness, she had got so high of the fact that Mama Swan agreed to speak with her that she felt herself special, immune to the woman's wrath. Geraldine simply rolled her eyes, not for the first time wondering if leaving a legacy was worth dealing with the new generation that seemed to entitled and immature to her.


“Please, forgive me!”


“On the other hand, medium level Elementals had the ability to control and manipulate already existing elements...” Geraldine just continued speaking ignoring the girl's pleads but glad that she had at least some sense. “...and their senses were far superior to any humans and on par with that of any animal. I heard of an Elemental that controlled a fire while others got everyone to safety. While Medium Elementals also needed to be near a source of their element they had far more control and power over it.”


“What about Full Elementals?”


“Now those are the real Boogeyman for the politicians, they are what they truly fear and the real reason they want Elementals under their thumb.”


“You mean restrain so they don't harm anyone?”


“If you really believe that then you have more to learn than I though.”


“What do you mean? You think there it a conspiracy? That the people's fears are a lie?”


“The people always fears the monsters but the government just wants to control them, they fuel the people's fear in order to act in 'the people's best interest' as they will always claim. Anyways, Full Elemental is the final level but this level is rare that there are said to be less than one thousand in the world but they are not unheard of. These were Elementals who were able to control and manipulate existing elements as well as create their own. Their senses were far superior to any living creature on the planet, basically making them super humans. Full Elementals usually possessed more than one element and sense. They never possessed more than two elements and senses that has been documented but even with just that a Full Elemental is practically a one person army.”


“That’s…”


“Amazing, I know!”


“Dangerous! Someone with so much power could do whatever they wanted and no one would be able to stop them.”

“And that is what started the war or at least it had a lot to do with it, see the war started because of Elementals or at least one Elemental in particular. A Serbian special Elementals forces were sent to assassinate some really important guy from some other country that I don’t care to know the name of…That pissed some people off but instead of attacking Serbia or the bastard that sent them, everyone went after the Elementals.” Geraldine could not hide her annoyance at this, she had a lot of experience being judged by what others perceived of her and their own personal bias. She understood feeling like fighting a losing battle just to get people to see her as an individual. She could sympathize with the Elementals that were just doing their job like any other soldier.


“Turns out the one who ordered the assassination was a Medium fire and sound Elemental. The ‘normal’ head of states began to declare that Elementals were too dangerous and they should not be allowed to roam free without restrictions. One side believed that restricting Elementals violated their human rights while the other side believed that it was necessary for the good of mankind…so they went to war. Pretty stupid right? All these countries joined a war that had nothing to do with them over people that for the most part were just living their lives. I mean sure there were bad ones but much like ‘normal’ humans there were also good ones that wanted nothing but peace. They didn’t ask to be born different or special and yet they would be made to pay for it either way.”


“I don’t understand what this has to do with anything…?” This time Helen's tone was soft and tentative as she did not wish to anger the woman again but this all was just confusing her more.


“Well, on top of having the disadvantage of being born a woman, because that wasn’t going to give me enough hardships. I was also cursed to be an Elemental in a time when the people were just beginning to fear them. Hated and mistreated as a woman, feared and distrusted as an Elemental. Like a typical man, God really set me up to fail from the very beginning but I bend to no man instead I prefer to bend them over and make them my bitch so that’s exactly what I did.” Geraldine smirked thinking about all the men that wanted or tried to control her but ended up bend over like the bitch they claimed she was.


“It’s not possible! Someone would have said something, an enemy or rival trying to discredit you. With the stricter laws on Elementals, it would have ruined you even in your line of work…How could there have been no word about this?!” Helen exclaimed in shock and disbelief, her fear forgotten by Geraldine's reveal. She found herself going through every information she knew about Mama Swan and it didn't make sense. There was nothing about her being an Elemental not even a suspicion or rumor.


“Because I told no one, those who knew were few but I knew I could trust them and if I couldn’t then I would make sure they never said, signed or wrote anything in their lives. That means that either you keep your mouth shut or I shut it for you.” Suddenly Helen found a gun pointed at her face and the menacing glaze of the fearsome Mama Swan staring at her. This was the woman that took the world of organized crime and made it her personal bitch. She killed her sister's husband, she torture many and was said to even have overthrown political leaders around the country and in South America. Hearing about her beginning as normal baby, in an abusive but still normal home for those times made Helen almost forget that she was not talking to the abused Geraldine but the abuser Mama Swan.


“I swear, I won’t say anything!” She practically got on her knees to beg the woman whose hand didn't even flinch and who was unmoved by the terror in her eyes. The older woman was silent for so long that Helen was sure she would be a goner but eventually the gun that had seemed to come out of nowhere was put down.


“But how did you find out?” She was still shaking but she needed to be distract or else she's going to embarrass herself even more.


“Well you see, it turns out that everyone was right. My mom got pregnant far too easily and Miguel was incapable of planting a male seed in her, so a few years later I became a big sister myself. It was kind of poetic, as I gained a sister I also lost one because Margarita was sold off to pay the bastard's gambling debt. Yes, I forgot to mention on top of being a drunk and a horrible human being, Miguel also was a gambler. Always an underachiever,” Geraldine sneered at her own joke although there was more truth and anger to those words than a joke should ever have in Helen's opinion but she said nothing.


“This time my sister was born on a much nicer day which was a deceiving sight. At this point my sisters had the routine down like a well oiled machine…”

 

It was a beautiful December day, the city was just beginning to prepare for Christmas and the end the year many hoping that the coming 1914 was better. Winter had hit extra early but despite the cold it was beautiful, the city of New York was covered in fresh snow like the veil of a bride on her wedding day. The children were all off from school and excited about the coming Holidays, their giggling and happiness filled the air as they all played with snow. The parents weren’t in such a great mood as some businesses could not open due to the weather and a day without work meant a day without pay and a day without food with Christmas coming many would have to chose over food or presents. For this reason they allowed their kids to have fun and enjoy the snow as the only present they could give them. The Salazar household was dealing with its own crises, it was filled with activity as everyone moved around frantically preparing for something. The grunts and screams from the one bedroom made them all stop for a second before moving along. Ruth Salazar was giving birth once more, her pregnancy came as a surprise to no one, although they were all shocked it had taken so long after Geraldine’s birth.

All of the girls were no more than one or two years apart but Geraldine and the new baby will be five years apart in age. The long gap did not help the mother who was struggling despite her body's experience, “It’s her age, it’s a miracle this pregnancy even stuck.” The midwife had declared when she was asked by the noisy women in their neighborhood 'what was taking so long' it was well known that Ruth seemed to give birth as if she was peeing. They were thirsty for gossip about who they called 'the bitch in heat' behind her back. The midwife had been right, from the very beginning Ruth had a horrible pregnancy, from not being able to leave the bed in the last months due to constant morning sickness and bleeding to the aches and pain that overcame her body from the very beginning. They were all surprised the child survived full term even Miguel had held back from beating his wife, mainly due to fear of hurting his son as he was sure this time it would be a boy and no one would dare tell him otherwise. The man was currently out celebrating a son that had yet to be born and all the women, even the youngest one had the feeling that once more he would be disappointed. This birth was especially hard and Ruth could not help but scream as the pain felt worse than the last times.


At twelve years old Anna was actually able to help the midwife as she had finally become a woman. Despite her young age of nine Dorothy was in charge of supporting her mother and keeping her calm mainly because she was the best at making others happy and putting them at ease since she was such a happy child herself. Margarita, as usual, took care of the heavy lifting, as a woman at fifteen she was the one to take care of the house while their mother was indisposed. On top of this responsibility, the eldest daughter had a job that did not pay much but it helped out with expenses especially when Miguel took Ruth's earnings to go drink. She took care of cleaning the sheets while fourteen years old Stella was the delivery girl that brought the cleaned towels and sheets for their mother to soil once more.


While all this was going on five years old Geraldine looked out the window wistfully at the other kids playing in the snow. She was supposed to check the sheets on the lukewarm radiator to see if they were dry but she wanted to play outside instead. “Geraldine! I swear, mother is going to die because you want to daydream!” The harsh and loud voice of Stella snapped the girl out of her daze, the teenager was very moody and angry these days, most of the time it was directed at her youngest sister.


“Stella! There is no need for that. She is just a child…I have no idea why you’re so harsh with her.” Margarita intervened, her exasperated tone spoke of how much she has had to do that and how annoying she found it.


“We all had to grow up quickly, why can’t she!? Besides, she ruined everything, if she had been born a boy…”


“Yes, because a baby could control their gender from within their mother’s belly. Do you hear yourself, you are becoming just as irrational as…”


“As who?”


“More sheets!” The midwife yelled from her place inside what was the girls’ bedroom snapping the two oldest sisters out of their stare down and cutting off their argument. In the last years Margarita and Stella had fought a lot more at some point it almost even got physical.


“Doesn’t matter, take these to the room, go!”


Once Stella was gone, Geraldine carried the blanks over to her eldest sister for her to fold. She looked comical and the bundle practically covered her. Margarita laughed as she offered to help but was quickly rejected. Geraldine was a ball of fire, she was so fierce that she wasn’t even six and Margarita envied her. She could barely say ‘I got it’ clearly, yet she made sure that everyone was aware that she could do it on her own. She even stared their father down when he was yelling at her and threw him a raspberry when she had just been barely a year old that if it was not for their mother distracting him and Anna taking her way, Margarita was sure he would have killed her. “Maggie…”


“Yea”


“...I don’t want to grow up if it means being like Stella.”


“Yeah, me neither.” The two sisters giggled, sharing a moment before getting back to work and focusing on the task at hand. Playing outside in the snow or growing up was forgotten as all the girls got to work. The screams of their mother filled the room and urged them to work harder. At this point even the younger Geraldine knew that their mother was the buffer that kept their father away and kept them alive. As selfish as if might sound they were scared to lose that protection although Margarita swore to herself that she would sooner take her sisters and leave than stay under their father’s thumb.


“Is this when you found out you were an Elemental? Was the fear of losing your mother what triggered you?”


“So impatient, I told you that you have to wait. Elementals aren’t triggered, from the moment they are born their abilities lie within them. Much like the ability to speak or walk, you just need to practice and learn to do it. Elementals usually know they’re different from the moment they can process thought, they might not know why or how but they know. For me, it was when I was five that I realized why I was different. I always had a connection to my element, it filled me with a calmness that made me feel fearless. But Elementals were more fairytale than reality or at that point more nightmare, so no one ever wanted to think that they were one even if all the signs pointed to it.” Geraldine looked almost wistful as she though of the time everything changed for her, and as much as she tried she couldn't go back to a time before then when she was normal but then she thinks of how much power and control that gave her and she is grateful for it.


“While in the times of Alexander the Great being an Elemental might have meant glory, in the times I was young it was a death sentence that no one wanted to carry…except me. I saw potential where others saw tragedy, I saw an advantage where others saw disadvantage, but most of all, I saw strength where others saw weakness. When my little sister was born, I was given the honor of cleaning her mainly because my mother wanted me to bond with her. Being the baby for so long made me not as receptive to the new bundle of joy so she was worried I was going to be mean to the baby and wanted us to bond. As if I was her mother and was going to fall in love as soon as I had her in my arms…” Geraldine rolled her eyes although there was fondness shine deep within them.


 

“Let Geraldine clean her.”


“What?! Why me? I don’t want her.”


“Geraldine!”


“You’re a big sister now, you have to protect your little sister and watch out for her.”


“I can barely watch out for myself. Besides, can’t I be the kind of big sister that Stella is?”


“What is that supposed to mean?!”


The teen mentioned glared at the child that was now sticking her tongue out at her. Stella was never a protective and loving big sister, at least not to Geraldine and the little girl was fine with that because she found Stella to be boring and uptight. The older girl also reminded her too much of their father for the little girl’s liking. “Geraldine, please…” The little girl could not deny a request from her barely conscious mother that was covered in more blood than the butcher around the corner that stands at the window like a serial killer checking out his next victim. She also wanted to leave because the stench was making her nose burn, she wasn't sure how everyone else handled it.


So with Anna’s help she took the new baby girl to the bathroom and placed her on the empty tub “now you can’t actually bathe her, she’s too little but you use a damp towel -not wet- and wipe her gently. Like this…” Anna proceeded to show her


“Anna!” and then made sure she had it before rushing off.


“Close your head! [shut up!]” The baby just kept crying and Geraldine wanted her to stop so she put her hand on the tiny mouth. Then the baby began turning red and Geraldine panicked. She remembers Anna rocking and shushing her but Geraldine was too weak to carry the baby. She covered her ears and begged for the crying to stop, when suddenly that is exactly what happened, Geraldine was too happy to care until the baby made a sound that wasn’t crying. She looked up and to her shock she saw water in the form of a cradle rocking back and forth, in the center laid the now sleeping baby. Like any child her age, Geraldine had only one reaction


“Wow!”


 

“You’re a water Elemental!”


“What gave it away, was it the water carrying a baby?” She couldn't help but snap sarcastically although she understood the young girl's surprise. Geraldine had once been told that her personality was better suited to fire or even earth not calming and healing water. “Yes, I’m a water Elemental which wasn’t bad, I would’ve preferred something cool and violent like earth or fire. Water just seemed weak, like something you only used for healing but I’ve drowned enough people to know that’s not the case. Water was my secret weapon, just like me it was unassuming yet overflowing with potential, good or bad. I just happened to choose bad but that’s not the water’s faults, it’s everyone else's.” Geraldine thinks of the words Stella sneered at her about her inability to take responsibility for her own actions and how she wanted to believe that everything was everyone's else's fault instead of her own.


“Anyway, that was my little sister Elsie Salazar and fortunately she was the final one mainly because my ma’s body made the decision for her. Despite how I felt the day of her birth, Elsie is by far the sister I’m closest to, in some way I always associated her with finding out I’m an Elemental.”


“ The Angel,” Helen declared with awe as she thinks of who became the most beautiful woman in America whose beauty was said to even have princes from foreign land obsessed with her. Then she focused back on the older woman's words.


“ What is your heightened sense?”


“What? You didn’t figure that out? I already said that.”


“What?! When?!”


“Are you even listening to anything I’m saying? I am not going back so you're just going to have to think about it in your own time or not know at all. Where was I…? Oh yes, Elsie in a water cradle…”


Geraldine noticed a bright red birthmark on the baby’s face and she could not help but think about how it ruins the image of the otherwise almost doll-like beauty. As if listening to her thoughts a water tentacle reached over and caressed the baby’s face right over the red birthmark, when it moved away the mark was completely gone and the baby’s face was flawless. Geraldine had been so surprised that she stepped back and fell to the floor, this seemed to cut her connection to the water because the baby was suddenly back in the tub and crying loudly. Anna walked in looking around as if she would find some monster within the shadows “what happened?” but Geraldine just stared at the place the water cradled once stood in shock.


“There was…and the mark…” Anna raised the now clean baby and cradled her, calming her cries. Geraldine waited for her older sister to talk about the mark that was no longer there but it never happened.


“You did a good job cleaning her…you even dried her…” Anna just sounded impressed and Geraldine was confused, she wanted to tell her sister but she just walked out with the baby leaving her alone. It was hard for a little girl to understand anything of what had happened but children were much more adaptable than adults so it was also easier to shrug it off as just a neat trick that she could do. It was her own little secret that she would keep to herself for the time being until she figured out more without her know-it-all sisters sticking their nose in it and trying to take control. It became a secret that she shared with her baby sister even though the infant had no recollection, it was still something special they shared that brought them closer together just like Ruth wanted.

 

Over the years Geraldine continued to test her new powers in the eyes of only her baby sister, who she was often left in charge of taking care of since her older sisters started working and her father refused to send her to school. When Elsie was two years older things started to change even more as Miguel got very into gambling on top of his heavy drinking, this meant that they had to try harder to hide whatever they managed to earn or else they would starve. They had to be very smart about it so they would often give the money to Geraldine or hide it with the baby since the man hardly ever acknowledged their presence. With this at the age of seven years old, Geraldine became the family’s accountant, keeping track of the money that was given to her and that she was asked for. She also had to get inventive on where to hide it, something that her magic helped with a lot. She learned she could not only make water but she could also turn it into ice so she would often hide the money in blocks of ice in different places around the apartment, mostly within the walls.



“I got really good with money and numbers, by ten years old I was doing high school math. Things got bad when the influenza hit but with my magic I was able to heal my sisters and mother when they got it, of course I had to do it while they were asleep so they wouldn’t catch me. We all prayed that Miguel would get it and die but the bastard seemed to have made a deal with the devil.” She lamented but Helen couldn't help but think that if Miguel had died then the woman would not have turned into Mama Swan and practically taken over.


“Although those were hard times since due to the name ‘Spanish influenza’ a lot of people assumed that everyone of Spanish descent carried the virus. We all introduced ourselves as Italian-Americans but in the neighborhood everyone knew. We got spat at and sneered at, some would even throw stones, demanding that we go back to our countries and take the flu with us. I was being told to go back to a country I had never even seen, at the time I could barely even speak Spanish; I was more American than Spanish but that didn’t save me.”


“Trust me I know, try telling an Irish or anyone in Boston for that matter that you're Irish-American but don’t drink…” Helen lamented as it was the story of her life even her own family made fun of her for being weird. She was rarely invited out because she was an embarrassment.


“You don’t drink…?” Geraldine was surprised, the prohibition made drinks out of everyone even the most devote. Americans practically became obsessed with alcohol so much so that it was so rare to find someone that didn't drink even socially.


“I don’t really like the taste,”


“Not sure what to make of that. Anyways…Unfortunately for us, with the flu in the air and the hate against Spaniards, Miguel spent more time at home apparently it’s not so nice when it’s someone his own size or bigger than him doing the beating. This gave him time to throw shit in our faces that we couldn’t always dodge. With no one willing to give Spaniards any jobs and/or lowering their pay, money got really tight so Miguel found new ways to exploit us for cash to drink and gamble away…”


As taking money from his family became harder, Miguel Salazar decided to pay his gambling debts another way and the first to fall prey to this was Margarita. The young woman at seventeen years old was married off to a man that Miguel owed a great debt to. Margarita was the family’s heavy hitter, she made the most money working for a very wealthy family. The teenager had been working with the family for a couple of years and had gained their trust and affection which meant that the family often gave her clothes and food as well as anything else they would throw away. “Miguel, please reconsider. We need Margarita…” The situation was so serious the Ruth risked herself by begging her husband to rethink his decision as Geraldine, Anna and the young Elsie held on to their oldest sister for dear life. They all knew this day would come but they had hoped that it would take longer or in Geraldine’s case that their father would die before he was able to mess everything up more than he already had.


“Are you questioning my decision, Ruth?” There was a dangerous tone to the man’s voice as he walked menacingly towards his wife.


“No! I would never do such a thing…” Ruth saw Geraldine’s glare at the man, the little girl was still so fierce and fearless enough to face down her father even after getting her first beating a little after Elsie was born. Ruth remembered that day and it made her shiver, the little girl had tried so hard not to cry but even her fierce temper was no match from the ruthless blows that even left some internal bleeding. At the time Ruth had been sure they were going to lose her but after a warm bath -that Geraldine insisted on- the little girl was as good as new. After that close call they had all agreed to keep the little girl away from the man, since at her young age she was too fragile and could not withstand as much as they could, but also because as the one who hid all the money it was crucial that she stayed in the shadows.


“Margarita is way past the marrying age and as a woman she is nothing if she has no husband or children. This was always going to happen, at least I get something out of having all bitches…”


“But father…!”


Everyone wanted to protest even Stella wasn’t too happy with the news, Margarita often did the work of ten people and thanks to that the others didn’t have to work as hard. Both Stella and Dorothy were able to go to school thanks to this. Anna was about to start classes as Geraldine was old enough to take care of Elsie on her own. Without Margarita neither of them could enjoy the luxury of an education any more. Suddenly the man swung his hand backhanding Ruth who was beside him and silencing everyone in the room as the woman fell to the floor with a bleeding lip. “I don’t know who made you think that this was a discussion but it's not. Coño [Fuck], Margarita is getting married and I want not a word from anyone, está claro? [is that clear]” Everyone was still silent as Margarita now had her two youngest sisters firmly behind her held by a trembling Anna.


Puta Madre[motherfucker], pregunte que si esta Está claro?! ” The tone was loud and tense, almost as if the man was a spring ready to uncoil and snap.


Si, padre [Yes, father]” When Miguel spoke in Spanish they were to answer him in perfect Spanish or else they would lose a few teeth. The man was very strict about his language and culture despite the hate that they got for their ‘involvement’ in the influenza. They all had to learn Spanish and celebrate the holidays celebrated in Spain. But were banned from speaking Italian or even eating Italian food despite it being their mother’s heritage. Geraldine glared at the man as hard as any seven year old could until the man scrunched his eyebrows and pressed his hand on his stomach, almost bending over as if in pain.

“I learned very quickly the dangers of water, it’s not something a normal child would think about or even care about but we lived with a monster and while healing was useful for me it was more important to fight the monster than to heal the wounds it left behind. I wasn’t like my family, I didn’t think that we should just take the abuse. I wanted to stop it, so that day I learned that the body was mostly made up of liquid and most liquids have water as their base, even alcohol, which I was sure made up 80% of Miguel’s body by that point.”


“That’s morbid…”


“No, that’s survival. I could make his stomach turn until it hurt so badly that he would bend over in pain, sometimes if I concentrated hard enough I could make him scream, those were the best days. Every time I had a chance I would do it but it took a lot out of me so I had to be careful not to draw attention. He also started blaming my mother’s cooking and threw a plate at her head for it so I had to pull back. But sometimes it was too satisfying to pass up, although I wasn’t as careful as I thought I was or my mother was just more observant than I gave her credit for…”


Ruth watched as her husband bent over holding his stomach and groaning in pain. She had asked the man to get himself checked out, worried that the problem could be something worse than simple stomach aches, maybe it had been symptoms of the influenza. She was sure it was all his drinking but then she started to notice Geraldine’s intense focus and slightly mischievous smile every time her father got cramps. Ruth wasn’t as stupid as people thought, she knew there was something different about her daughter. She remembered that her nonno [grandfather] was a very powerful water Elemental “Water is actually more dangerous than people think, it’s not just about healing. Water Elementals can take life just as easily as they can give it. Do you know the body is more than half water? Water Elementals can control all that, this makes them by far the most dangerous Elementals especially because sooner or later they all begin to think themselves gods…” Her father had once told her when she declared how boring it would be to be a water Elemental and just heal people.


So far none of her children had shown signs of being Elementals and the way the government was currently talking about them, Ruth was glad. But recently she had noticed things about Geraldine, like how a warm bath seemed to heal her internal bleeding and how she seemed to have a nose that could rival any dog. No one knows how the Elemental gene worked, all that was known was that it ran in the family at some point but it could be a father or an ancestor hundreds of years ago. Ruth frantically yet discreetly shook her head at her daughter, begging her to stop but Geraldine just pouted and crossed her arms. The young girl was far too rebellious for Ruth to handle most days but her firm mother glares still worked and Miguel stood up as the pain suddenly stopped. Ruth decided that she had to pull her daughter aside and talked to her about her gifts and the dangers of them.


“That talk was not very comfortable; I had to pretend I had no idea what she was talking about until she called my bluff. She did tell me about my great nonno, who was just like me and she also told me how the gene had skipped two generations making me the first Elemental in the family. She did give me a lot of good information that I didn’t know but she wanted me to not use my magic ever again which was not something I was willing to do. Being a water Elemental was the only control and advantage that I was blessed with. It would be foolish not to use it, at the very least to protect myself and my family.”


“So did you kill him…?” Helen should not be as excited for the death of someone but she was, Miguel was a despicable man that deserved to die.


“Who? Miguel?”


“Yes, did you use your element to protect your family like you wanted to?”


“No, but I later wished I had more than ever before…” There was pain in Geraldine's eyes as she though of something that was far ahead and Helen did not know about yet. She wanted to desperately asked what it was but the older woman had already called her patient many times and Helen was sure she was reaching her quota. There was a tense and almost oppressive silence that fell over them and stayed there for what felt like hours.


“Anyways, with Margarita gone, our whole dynamic had to change especially since Miguel became more ruthless, so often mother was out of commission. Anna took care of the house and Elsie, Stella worked two jobs and Dorothy worked one as well as made sure that no one noticed too much. I went from being the family’s accountant to also the family’s doctor since I was the one that had to patch up mother’s wounds. When it was just us I would use the water to heal her which was great practice and as long I was just using it to heal, mother was okay with it. When there were others present I had to do it the old fashioned way, cleaning them and wrapping them in cloth.” Geraldine got up and made herself a drink, surprisingly offering water to Helen which the girl took gratefully as despite not talking as much she had been very thirsty. It was like a brief seconds intermission and this time the silence wasn't oppressive or tense.


“On the bright side, I got really good at stitching up wounds. When I was ten the war ended and the side pro-Elementals had won which was great news for me although people’s opinion about Elementals had already started changing. This also meant that all surviving men started to come back from war and that meant women were losing their jobs and being forced to return to the house. The men weren’t in the best shape but even at their worst they were better than any broad according to employers. Miguel’s gambling got much worse as with more men around he was desperate to prove his manhood especially when he began to be teased by the returning soldiers for not going off and fighting in the war.”


“Why didn’t he?”


“Because despite his bravado, the man was a coward that was only strong around those weaker than him. He made up some lie about having some heart condition to get out of it, like a lot of wealthy families did for their own sons.”


“That’s horrible! It was his duty to protect America from her enemies like all true Americans…”


“Huh…Well aren’t you just a walking talking propaganda?” Geraldine's teasing made Helen blush, her family has always stressed the importance and the greatness of this country. It has offer them so many opportunities and the Elwoods were nothing if not devote from church, to the bottle, to family. This is why it is so important for her to learn how Mama Swan defied expectations and norms because she wants to be able to serve her country despite being a woman


“Either way, Miguel wasn’t an American, that was something he made sure everyone knew, at least around the house, outside he pretended to be the most patriotic of Americans. He watched baseball and rooted for the Yankees, he drank like a fish, beat his wife and children, then criticized politicians and complained about the conditions while doing nothing to make them better. What could be more American than that?”

“Going to war, fighting for freedom, liberty and justice…” Helen thinks about the long line of soldiers that run in her families history, there is no greater honor in her opinion.


“Okay Ms. America… That’s all nice and good but not everyone is willing to give their lives for the country.” Geraldine rolled her eyes at another sign of the younger woman's naivety. Still she didn't want to address it since that was no the point of this little storytelling hour at least not for her.


“Anyways, the next one to pay off one of his debts was Anna, I was praying that it would be Stella as the oldest but the businessman that bought Miguel a drink, really liked Anna. Which translated to she looked the most manageable and the easiest to manipulate. The man wanted a woman to lay down and take it, I hated him from the moment I met him. Much like Miguel, he got out of the draft due to ‘asthma’ although he smoked more than a chimney. I had been positive he was going to set the apartment on fire when he went to visit. He also mocked those that did go to war and even sacrificed their lives “fools” and “chumps” he called them. I knew from the moment I looked into his eyes that Anna was going to know nothing but suffering with the man and I felt so helpless. I wanted to help and stop it all, but all I could do was give him a stomach ache that not even my mother protested against, that’s how bad he was.”


“Was he worse than Miguel?”

“No one is worse than Miguel.” There was a dark look in her eyes as she though about why no one was worse than Miguel.


“But the man that married Anna had more money and lived in a house in the Bronx so unlike Margarita, Anna had a wedding. It was the first time any of us had dressed nice, Miguel even allowed ma to buy us new dresses. Anna looked beautiful in her white gown and the backyard looked like some royal garden. It was so much fun, especially since it was the first time the family was together, Margarita was there with her husband and their two children.”


“She already had children already?!”


“Yep, turns out Margarita was just as easily to impregnate as our mother. The first year of her marriage she fell pregnant with a boy,” Geraldine remembers how happy Miguel had been at the news, the man celebrated as if it had been his son born not his grandson. The kind was definitely Miguel's favorite and he got a side of the man that none of them ever saw. The doting grandfather although Geraldine grimace as she though about how he also tried to passed down his archaic believes “and a few months after he was born she fell pregnant with a girl. I don’t even think the boy got to really breastfeed before she was pregnant again, Anna had gone to help her before she too was married off. But with two children, working and a husband that drank all the money he made or spent it on other women, she was often too busy to spend any time with us. So the wedding was a great time to see each other and spend time together, although we definitely felt out of place even as we dressed nicer. Miguel got drunk and made a fool of himself so ma felt we should leave early so as to not ruin the rest of Anna’s day. Without Anna and Margarita the house felt empty, Stella got a lot more insufferable and Dorothy more whiny. Elsie started to get real quiet and closed off, she always wanted to keep real close to me or ma, at first I thought that it was because we were sure that I was next.”


“What do you mean? You were far too young especially compare to the others.”


“Miguel started taking me out with him to the tavern, it was definitely not a traditional father-daughter outing or a place for a child, let alone a girl beginning to become a woman, but it kept him out of the house so I went along with it. That was where I met Joseph…


“Joseph ‘The Judge’ Moretti?! The leader of the Moretti family mafia, practically the king of New York at that time, that Joseph?!” Helen exclaimed, although it was common knowledge that Mama Swan been part of the Moretti mafia she had been sure that the woman join and met their leader as an adult not a child.


“Well he ain’t king any more...” Geraldine smirked and Helen could almost picture a crown on her head as she seemed like a queen sitting on her throne,“...but yea, although back then he was just little Joey Moretti. I didn’t know anything about his family at that time and they were just starting out as loan sharks not yet too deep in organized crime. He was just a boy much older than me that gave me the jitters with his incessant staring almost as if I was a steak and he was a starving dog. I was barely twelve and he was nineteen but still Miguel insisted that I spend time with him and keep him happy. We were all waiting for the announcement that I was the next cattle being sold off. What I didn’t know was the storm that others behind the scenes were brewing, a storm that would directly affect me later on.”





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