Dearest Mama and Papa,

As I write this, my heart races, and tears continually roll down my cheeks. I am terrified of what may happened in the next few hours, but I must be mature and deal with it.

As you are still out running errands, I must explain to you all that has happened in the past several hours. I am unaware if you two know of this sorrowful news, but Bernardo has been killed. He and the Sharks had had it with their archrivals, the Jets – Americans. Last night, after the dance, 'Nardo and his friends met up with the American boys and the two gangs scheduled a rumble for earlier tonight. I was not told of this up until today - actually, perhaps I was told earlier, but did not remember. Recently, everything that occurs to me has been a blur, for I am in love – not with Chino, or any other Puerto-Rican. But an American – a former Jet. You do not need his family background now, for I fear that my love may not be with me much longer.

But I shall reveal that his name is Tony, but I shall write no more about that subject!

Anyways, when I did find out about the rumble, I implored Tony to go and stop it, for I believed that any fight was not good for my love and I. He promised to do so...but now I think that he shouldn't have. For at the rumble, my American love stabbed Bernardo. Oh, how my heart ached when I wrote those words!

But this is not where the bad news ends. Around 9:15 this evening, Chino arrived at our apartment. He informed me about 'Nardo's death, but knew nothing about what happened to my love, besides the fact that he killed my brother. Shortly after Chino left, Tony arrived, saying that he hadn't meant to hurt Bernardo and that my brother had killed Tony's best friend. Immediately regaining my respect and love for him, I begged him to stay with me. We had both fallen asleep when Anita came in. Tony quietly exited the apartment using the fire escape - we hastily made plans to meet later at the drugstore.

Anita caught sight of Tony leaving, seeing him by looking out my bedroom window. She fretted over the man who had captured my heart, saying that I'd never be happy with him.

I refused to believe her, and she finally saw that I truly loved Tony. Once we saw eye-to-eye, Anita told me that Chino had possession of a gun and was planning to shoot Tony. More worried than I have ever been in my life, I asked Anita to find Tony and tell him that I would be tied up at my home for awhile, as a police officer stopped by to question me about the rumble's outcome.

And here I am now, scribbling down this letter as quickly as possible, for I must track down Chino before he does the worst thing possible to Tony – and that is to kill him. I am hopeful of coming across Tony on my search, and then we can possibly run away together – away from this cruel place where nationality can get in the way of love. But…what will happen if I am too late, and Chino has shot Tony?

Although I am a young woman now and must learn to solve problems on my own, I long for assistance in this situation! Dear Mama, beloved Papa…I want your guidance in this, but I cannot ask of it. I will not risk you two, for you have suffered enough and won't even know of your suffering until you read this. You have lost a son, and tonight, you may lose a daughter – I am wondering what is going to happen to me, but I plan to be as cautious as ever. I love you both so much, and I do want to return home tonight.

Hopefully…I will.

Your loving daughter,

Maria

(Or as Papa likes to say, Maruca)