March 17, 1968
I found this old notebook in the trash by the Suarez house, and was given this new pencil yesterday for my thirteenth birthday, so I’ve decided to write about my life. I’m not sure what to say. My name is Luciano Castillo Garcia, and I live in a coal-mining camp in Concepción. My father, Carlos Castillo Sanchez, works there, and we have a pretty good life. We live above my mother’s store, and have a small kitchen with a gas oven that we got used last year. I love that oven. It putters and spits, but when we have gas, which isn’t that often, it purrs in contentment. My mother uses it only for special meals. She made a cake yesterday for my birthday. We didn’t have any sugar for it, but it tasted wonderful anyway.
My mother’s name is Angelina Garcia Flores, and she has the most lovely hair of anyone in our town. When my father is working, and I am working at the store with her, and there are no costumers, she will tell me about my grandfather and great-grandfather. I can tell that she loves them and holds their memory dear by the way that she holds herself when she speaks about them. She is so proud, standing strong and tall, back upright, eyes fixed on one point in the distance, mouth held in a half-smile. She tells me of how my grandfather, Luis, would tell stories of how his father, Pedro, used to march in the strikes at the nitrate mines of the north. She describes the way that in the mornings when her father was leaving for the mines here in Concepción, she would shine his shoes and he would give her a kiss on the forehead for good luck. And she always ends the story by telling me how lucky we are to have such a good life, to be part of the Socialist Party here in Chile, and how I should always greet father when he comes home by thanking him.
My mother is right. I do lead a good life. And my family is the best part.