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The Transformation

The Transformation

The Transformation


From Short Stories About Us
By Carine Fabius

Next Story: A Better Place →


Lena, an African-American woman, is on vacation in Santiago de Cuba with her Spanish-American husband Alejandro. They are thrilled to be there; the only problem is she keeps being mistaken for a Cuban prostitute. After a time, a transformation—for her and her husband—begins to take place.

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Lena Taylor’s almond-brown face and bare arms contrast pleasantly with her Spanish husband’s olive skin tone, although the mixed couple often draws veiled stares in Atlanta, where they live. Atlanta has been dubbed the “new south,” even if some would dispute that claim. But the partners in life and business are in the tropics now, and Alejandro Moreno has wagered that by the end of their stay, his tan will bring him up to speed.

“Only our mothers will be able to tell us apart!” he says.

“Meaning I’ll be using a hat and umbrella the whole time?” Lena says, grinning.

Moist and scorching in the midday sun, Santiago de Cuba hums a canción with Afro-tinged rhythms, ode to the city’s majority black Cubans in the land of Castro. Excited to be there for the first time, and looking forward to practicing her minimal Spanish-language skills, Lena smiles at the surly doorman as they climb up the steps of an elegant colonial-era hotel, whose balcony serves as an open-air restaurant.

Buenas!” she says.

The stern-faced doorman looks past her, nods to Alejandro and points the way to the outdoor dining room with a wave of his arm.…

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Next Story: A Better Place →