The Book of the Three


The third reason we knew Junie was going places was Maria Espinosa. Some girls look just like they are going to look from the time they are in pigtails. She was one of these. In some cases that is a good thing. In some cases that is a bad thing. With Maria Espinosa it was good, it was very good. Everything on her fit just-so. Even when she wore metal braces on her teeth she looked like she was born with metal braces on her teeth. Like they were pretty. She did not ever wear pants to school or to worship. It was skirts or dresses, strictly. Her momma and daddy loved her and did right by her. It was a rumor she spoke other languages at home. Some said tongues. But she spoke pure English out and about, so who could tell for sure. It was a nice small mystery for us to hold in our hearts. Otherwise there was nothing mysterious about her. She was a true fact. She got just enough A’s and just enough B’s. She liked puppies and horses and little babies and the mall and bad music. She had excellent penmanship, a good singing voice. When anybody thought of what a girl should be they thought about Maria Espinosa. You could not say just what it was. It was everything. No one thing stood out about her. That is just what made her perfect. Why this meant something for Junie is not as easy as just he wanted her and she wanted him. True, they wanted each other. It was plain to see. They did the things such people do. Perk up when talk turned to the other one. Blush whenever she or he was around. Stare. So on. But after Gary Lester, Maria said she was not allowed to go with boys. She was a good Catholic girl, she said. We did not know for sure what this meant as we were all nominal Baptists. But it stood to reason she was saying she did not appreciate him telling about her private affairs. Plus she told her friends it was all a lie anyhow. Or at least there was no honest way for Gary Lester to know. She had not even let him kiss her. If that was the way boys were going to be she said she was better off without them. From arm’s length we all just got a better look at her perfection. That is how these things are with boys and girls. But Junie was most likely to succeed. She was most likely to marry well. That is the way it worked. What it did was promise something out in the far-off future. It was something these two would get to soon enough. No one doubted it. We did not worry over it. It gave us all something to look forward to. It was like they were a prince and a princess-to-be. Not to say as time went by some of us did not start to put on airs. Aint no reason to just to let her go to waste, and I don’t see what he’s got that I aint got, and, shoot, she’s in her prime and he won’t pull the trigger. It was talk. Just talk. That is how these things are with boys.