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Nine Days

By Suzanne LaFetra

Number of:

Consecutive nights she’d spent away from her family since her children were born: 2

Years she’d lived on the beach in Mexico before she’d come to California and met her husband: 6

Decades she’d been married: 0.9

Waves etched into her whitegold wedding band: 6

Waves etched into his: 0

Years they’d been in couple’s therapy: 3.3

Minutes she’d searched online before she found a rental house in the same village she’d lived in before she became a wife and mother: 5

Percentage discount the owner gave her because she still spoke such good Spanish on the phone: 10

Hours before dawn she left for the airport: 2

Pages she read of the novel on the airplane: 4

Minutes it took her to retrieve her guitar, laptop and small suitcase from customs: 75

Days until she would have to be back in the airport for her return flight: 9

Kilometers per hour she averaged speeding toward Tulum: 130

Songs she sang at the top of her voice because the rental car didn’t have a radio: 8

Candles she bought at Mar Caribe grocery store: 6

Bottles of Don Julio tequila she purchased: 1

Amount in pesos she paid for the half kilo of steaming tortillas wrapped in pink paper: 6

Kilometers of jungle road she traveled once she left the paved highway: 11

Keys she needed to open the house’s three doors: 3

Things she put away before running outside: 0

Stairs leading down to the beach: 13

Sand toys, bottles of sunblock, hats, coolers, animal crackers, babywipes, beach umbrellas weighing her down: 0

Inches of fabric covering her body as she dove into the Caribbean: 0

Stretch marks sagging across her breasts and belly: 59

Days before her 42nd birthday: 1

Minutes she floated on her back in the amniotic sea: 8

Orgasms she’d had while having sex in the past year: 4

Times she’d swum in an ocean with her husband: 0

Seconds it took for the salt in her tears to mix with the salt of the Caribbean: 6

Other men she’d slept with since meeting her husband: 0

Dreams over the past year in which she’d made love to others: 27

Degrees in Fahrenheit of the air temperature when she lay down naked on the clean sheets that first night: 83

Stars visible from her bed: 1,674,598

Instances she thought about calling home: 19

Times she actually dialed before hanging up: 1

Minutes before sunrise on the morning of her birthday that she slipped off her wedding ring: 3

Old friends she called and invited to her birthday party: 11

Minutes she took shaving her legs, smoothing scented oil across her tanned belly, sliding a new bronze bracelet up her arm, flicking a brush of shimmering gloss over her lips: 70

People who showed up at the party: 18

Toasts to her chased by the best Herradura tequila: 5

Kisses that just missed her cheek by the tiniest bit - un poquito, no más - and pressed against her warm mouth: 4

Mariachis who crooned her favorite Mexican song Sabor a Mi: 6

Friends who asked if she missed her children: 14

Times she answered in the affirmative when they asked her if she missed her husband: 0

Candles pressed into the gooey chocolate frosting on her cake: 1

Wishes made when she blew the moist air between her parted lips, that she be the one to split the piñata, to bust it wide open with a fat stick, so the stickysweet candy inside would rain down on her: 1


Suzanne LaFetra's writing has appeared in a dozen anthologies and several newspapers and literary journals, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Christian Science Monitor, Pearl, Rosebud and Literary Mama. She lives in the Bay Area and is at work on a memoir about her love affair with Mexico.

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