Here is my first WSS fic. I am currently studying the play in school, and we're watching the movie as well. Sadly, I can't truly enjoy it that much, as my crush and one of my good friends are playing Tony and Maria :( But let's not be depressed, hehe!
Disclaimer: I only own Senora Sanchez.
BTW - I didn't know whether or not to spilt into separate chapters. It's short, so I kept it with one chapter - it is complete!
As the age-worn grandfather clock chimed at six o'clock on the dot, Maria rose from her sewing machine and approached the door to the bridal shop. Quietly, she flipped the cardboard sign that hung on the door over for one of the last times. If you passed by the store outside, you would read the words, Closed – the words that appeared in the door every day at exactly six p.m.
Maria returned to her worktable and picked up another cardboard square, although this one was blank. With a thick, black marker, she wrote – in both Spanish and English: Sold – new business opening next December.
Fighting back her tears, Maria placed the cardboard underneath the "closed" sign. She slumped back in her seat, the bags underneath her eyes sagging. She had gone sleepless for the past three months, rarely slumbering for more than two hours per night. There had been no more dances or socials at the gym, or jolly, memorable nights on the rooftop of Maria's family's apartment. Everything was different – 'Nardo was dead.
But he wasn't the only one who had perished on that fateful night. Tony – Anton, her beloved Anton – had been killed. Curse that Chino! Killing her love just to keep the Sharks safe! How cowardly! How foolish! Maria's heart ached with hatred at the man to whom she was once betrothed. How she longed to strangle Chino whenever she saw him! But alas, Maria rarely spotted him now that Bernardo was gone – the Sharks had suffered some minor breakdowns, and several members had left the gang, returning to Puerto Rico or traveling to explore other parts of the United States.
I shall most likely see him today, Maria glumly remembered. Both Chino and Rosalia claimed that they were coming to visit her together around closing time.
"Senorita Maria!" The door leading up to second level of the shop creaked open, and the original owner of the shop – Senora Sanchez – prudently entered the room, leaning on her cane. The old spinster gave her employee a toothless smile. "Locking up, eh, chica?"
"Si, Senora," Maria cleared away the numerous yards of fabric placed near her sewing machine. "Rosalia and Chino are coming to see me home, Anita said that she might come as well."
"Ah, yes!" Senora Sanchez nodded, hobbling forward on her cane to take some of Maria's fabric to store away. "Chino! What a handsome, young boy he is!"
Maria stiffened. "Yes…he is quite the catch."
Senora Sanchez chuckled, her wrinkled face glowing. "Now, Maria, don't go loving Rosalia's new husband! You said yourself that your betrothal to Chino was never truly meant to be."
After the deaths of Bernardo, Tony, and Riff, Maria had officially broken her arranged engagement to Chino, proclaiming that she'd never spend the rest of her life with a man who murdered her true love. Shortly following the engagement breaking, Rosalia – the simple but adventurous Shark girl – persuaded her father to make her a match with one of the handsome Puerto-Rican men. Pleased that Chino was now available for his daughter, Rosalia's father quickly settled an agreement with Chino. Within a month, the two were wed.
"Ai, Senora!" Maria flushed angrily as she shoved some folded dress material onto a self. "Never will I love Chino – never have I loved him! He killed not only Tony, but my power to love another again!"
"Chica," Senora Sanchez eased down into a chair. "Because of Tony, your brother was killed."
"And because 'Nardo was killed, Tony was killed!"
"If you say so, Maria. All of this talk is making my head ache – no more, I beg of you…" Senora Sanchez snapped her attention towards the unfamiliar sign hanging in the door, and slowly, she rose from her seat to read it. When she finished, she turned back to Maria, her eyes glazing over. "It has been sold?"
"Imagine!" the old woman declared nostalgically. "My little bridal shop being sold into another business! For twenty years I have lived above this store…"
"…And nearly a million memories you have made," Maria knowingly finished.
"Si, chica," Senora Sanchez took one last look around the interior of her beloved shop, and then wobbled back to the steps leading upstairs. "Do not stay here with your friends too long, all right?"
"Of course, Senora Sanchez."
The old maid hobbled up the stairs leading to her upstairs apartment, and as soon as she had disappeared, there was a playful banging at the back door. Waiting for Maria to come and answer the door, Rosalia and Chino eagerly barged in, followed by a pale and quiet Anita, who had quit working at the shop several weeks ago.
"It is official!" Rosalia happily announced. "We are moving to California in three months' time!"
Maria's eyes widened. For weeks, Rosalia and Chino had talked of leaving New York for a bigger and better horizon, something less demanding than New York, something less violent. But no one had taken the couple seriously – everyone expected the two to eventually give up on this discussion.
"It is true, Maria," Chino told her, flinging his arm around Rosalia. "But we plan to leave in just two weeks, to take our time touring the country before settling down in California. We may stay in one place for awhile, to see how it suits us."
Rosalia interrupted, "But what we do know is that we are leaving this awful area for good!"
"Felicitaciones! Congratulations!" Maria said. She was still stunned inside. More and more Sharks were leaving New York every day, all because of her brother's death. She had seen the Jets occasionally when they took the time to speak politely with what was left of the Sharks. They were all still there – Action, Diesel, A-rab, even young Baby John! What made the Jets stay together? Was it because they were true Americans and the Sharks were not? Because they were not foreigners, like the Sharks?
Anita rolled her eyes. Even since Bernardo's death, the careworn side of her had faded, and only the tough side remained. "Bah! Do not congratulate them, Maria! They are fools for running away from memories!"
"Rosalia and I are not escaping from memories!" Chino claimed, red-faced. "We are merely going towards a new beginning!"
Anita threw her hands up in the air, surrendering. "Ai! Never did the West Side bother you two, never did a little violence upset you! But then a death occurs – " Anita now refused to utter out Bernardo's name, it hurt too much for her to say. " – And you decide to leave?"
Rosalia laughed icily. "What a mouthful for you to say, Anita. Especially because you are going to Florida in merely a month."
Maria's stomach dropped, and her mouth wide open, she glanced at Anita, her eyes saying it all. "F-Florida?"
Anita's stony eyes melted, and warmth and tears emerged for the first time in ages. Salty tears running down her cheeks, Anita seated herself upon a chair, looking down at her hands guiltily. "I apologize, Maria. I should have told you sooner. But yes, I'm leaving for the south. Puerto-Ricans are more welcomed there, they have whole communities of them."
"Anita," Maria, too, began to cry. Now she had to take action. Her best friend was leaving – what did that leave Maria at? "Anita, please reconsider, I beg of you. You adore New York!"
"No," Anita shook her head in denial. "I adore America. I adored your brother. Without him, New York shall become taboo to me – I will have nothing to do with it." She glanced at Maria gently. "You could come too, chica. It will be better there, we will both find new men –"
"No!" Maria cried out, tears gushing out of her eyes. "My parents – they are still not over 'Nardo's death – and I – I can't leave – "
Rosalia snickered, her head resting on Chino's shoulder. "Sounds like you girls have a lot to discuss." She began leading Chino to the exit. "Buenos noches, Maria. I can tell you are headstrong enough to make the right decision –" She snorted. "- - Whatever that is." She let go of her grasp on Chino and strutted outside. Her husband quickly muttered his good-byes, and he, too, left.
Maria stared at Anita. "You are different now."
"I know I am," Anita shot back. "Everyone goes through change."
"But why at the same time?" Maria wailed. "Everyone is leaving me, Anita. Bernardo and Tony were first, and now all of my friends are moving away – including you. Out of all of my Puerto-Rican friends, I thought I could always count on you, Anita."
Anita sighed heavily and approached Maria, taking her friend's cheeks in her hands. "Listen, mi chica. You are not a child anymore. Life has come upon you – true life. And this is what true life is all about – sacrifice, death, and birth. We must face it, whether we want to or not. You must grow up, Maria. You were in love – I was as well. That is another part of life – heartbreaks." Anita shrugged and stepped back, approaching the back door. "Think about all I said, Maria – about Florida and life," she chuckled lightly as she opened the door. "Who knows? Maybe your true life will begin in Florida." And with that, Anita was gone – the one person Maria always assumed would be there for her.
Silently, she fell down onto a chair, buried her head into her arms, and wept.
"Excuse me? Lady?"
Maria snapped her head back up, to find one of the Jet girls, Velma, standing there, a pink, frilly dress in her arms. Maria quickly stood up, frazzled. "Oh – I – we are closed – what time is it?"
Velma's eyebrows rose in question, "The front door was unlocked, and the light was on, so I just came in. You was sleeping when I walked in."
"A little after eight."
"Oh, my," Maria rubbed her eyes tiredly, groaning inside. "I was supposed to lock down the door two hours ago…"
"Hey, don't sweat it, girl," Velma shrugged. "You look like you could use the rest." She studied Maria and then concluded, "You was Tony's girl, weren't you?"
Maria blushed, and her heart skipped at the mention of Tony. "Yes." She extended her hand. "I am Maria. How may I help you? As long as I am here, I might as well work."
"Velma," the white girl shook the colored girl's hand, and then shoved at her the pink dress in her arms. "I need the hem trimmed – Graziella and Diesel are getting hitched soon, and Graziella made me her bridesmaid."
As she took the dress from Velma, Maria suddenly remembered why this customer seemed much more familiar than she already was. "You were dating Riff – Tony's friend."
Velma glanced sideways at her, her expression blank. "Yeah. I was."
Maria nodded, and speedily adjusted Velma's dress's hem. When she completed the task, she handed the dress back to its owner.
Velma gratefully accepted the dress. "Thanks a bunch. The couple's dress rehearsal is tomorrow and I was afraid with it being Sunday, no shops would be opened."
Maria was not listening. She was recalling what Anita had said – change happens to everyone. Why stick out in the crowd? Maria thought. Daringly, she spoke, "Velma, do you think I could possibly attend the rehearsal of your friends' wedding? Any friends of Tony are friends of mine."
Velma appeared shocked, but she soon smiled. "Sure, no prob. The gang would love to have you." She made her way towards the door. "Thanks again for fixing the dress, Maria."
"De nada, Velma. You're welcome."
Once Velma had left, Maria reflected on what had just happened. She had proven herself wrong – she had just made plans to hang out with Jets – Americans. She wasn't going with Anita or her parents or Bernardo – just with herself. She was breaking free from the Puerto-Rican clan, and making herself a true American girl.
"Change is good," she said to herself thoughtfully. And with that, she gathered her belongings, shut off the lights, and headed home for some well-deserved sleep.
I changed some things around from the film. For instance, it appears that Graziella is Riff's girlfriend in the movie, but in the play, it's Velma, and I want to keep it that way. And a lady can be seen leaving the bridal shop after "I Feel Pretty" in the movie, who's probably the owner or boss. I made Senora Sanchez the original owner, as in having originally opening the store on her own and then leaving above the shop when she retired.
Please, if you're going to read, review!