DisclaimerMi pecado is the intellectual property of Televisa and Juan Osorio. The story and chapter titles of this fic are inspired by "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. I make no claim to ownership of the series or the poem, and I make no monetary profit from the publication of this story.

The days, like the men, bleed into each other. Each dawn is as bleak as the next; each sunset brings the same despair.

This is Justina's life now. She is an indentured servant, only she knows that her sentence is perpetual; her "debt" to Federico will never be repaid. What's worse is that the men do not care. She is but a means to an end; they care that she provides them with a release, that is all. She is interchangeable with any other warm vagina on the planet.

She tries not to think of the way her life was before, or of the future. There is no point in hoping.

By the time that Justina sees the first person from her old life, she has forgotten how long she has been trapped in this one; time ceased to behave linearly long ago. She only knows that it is a Friday, because Federico has her sit in the plaza by the courthouse every Friday in an attempt to seduce stressed and tired attorneys, judges, criminals — anyone, really — into her bed, and this is what she is halfheartedly doing when she catches sight of him.

At first she thinks that she is hallucinating, because Luciano does not take clients this far south, but he draws closer and yes, it's him. Hope, once dormant within her for so long that Justina had believed it to be dead, springs to life in her chest with a painful pang. She'd forgotten how this feels, optimism.

She strikes her best pose, trying to make herself look as alluring and desirable as possible. Their eyes meet, and she stares at her former lover with such forceful desperation, trying to make him understand without words. Forgive me, she wants to say. Save me, hold me, love me, want me, please don't leave me here mi amor, mi vida.

She thinks for a moment that he might have understood, but then in the next second something within him turns to steel. Luciano just stares right past her, like every other man in her sorry excuse for a life; he turns up his nose, as if he has smelled something foul, as if she is a rotten piece of trash sullying this lovely plaza, and just walks away, the one glimmer of light in this endless night snuffed out without another thought. And really, she thinks miserably as the ever-familiar tears begin to form yet again, why should he give her another thought? He'd worshiped her body and soul, and she'd betrayed him time after time after time...

There will be no happy endings for her, Justina realizes. She doesn't deserve them.

Justina cries at her table until the sun has begun to slip beneath the horizon. With a start, she realizes that she's going to be late getting back to Federico and takes only a second to wipe her eyes and grab her bag before dashing off to the bus stop. The last bus is just leaving when she makes her breathless arrival, though; the only way back now is to walk.

The road home is dark and quiet, save for the cicadas' soft song wafting over the tall, grassy fields. Justina has only her thoughts to keep her company; tonight, the men of her former life occupy her mind. Paulino was her first serious boyfriend, she recalls, but he'd been able to sense that she cared more for his status than for Paulino himself, and things had fallen apart relatively quickly. Then there was Gabino; he was already married to Inés, though, and was only interested in a passionate affair.

That had left only poor but sweet and adoring Rodolfo. He'd loved her more than any other man in her life, but, as always, she'd aimed too high: first for a wealthy man, then for a man who loved her, then for any man. She'd had perfection, wrapped in a neat little bow, in her hands, and she'd thrown it away in hopes of finding something better. Now, she's as she deserves to be: a lonely whore. A cool breeze in the otherwise still night tousles her hair like Rodolfo used to do in happier times, and Justina tearfully curses herself. If only then she'd known the price of her ambition! If only then she'd known—

Something rough and heavy clamps itself over her mouth; she tries to scream, to run, but it's all around her, crushing her, forcing her down into the tall grass with a hard bark of a laugh, and no, this is not happening, not again. This is all a dream, one of those terrible nightmares spurred by that horrible night from years past. The heavy weight on her chest that's cracking her ribs; the hot, putrid breath rushing directly into her nostrils; the sharp, splitting agony in her pelvis; it's all in her head. None of it is real.

All that she has to do is open her eyes, and she'll wake up in bed next to Rodolfo. He'll wrap his arms around her shaking shoulders and plant gentle kisses all over her face, reassuring her that her nightmare is over, and she'll sink contentedly into his warm embrace. She'll beg him over and over for his forgiveness, tell him that she loves him and that she's so sorry for everything that she's put him through, and he'll whisper that all was forgiven long ago. Then he'll tell her that he loves her, that their boys love her, that they could never want a different wife or mother, and they'll fall asleep tangled in each other's arms with the sound of the other's heartbeat to lull them to sleep, and Justina will never covet another thing, never again take her family for granted, once she opens her eyes...

It's not until she's back in her apartment, standing shell-shocked in front of her bathroom mirror, that Justina realizes that she's not dreaming. There are bruises all over her face and arms and blood, yet again, trickles down her thighs. She sees and she finally understands, and in the horror of that moment she screams the most terrible sound, one that seems to last an eternity and run as deep as the pain entrenched in her heart. Not one but two men have thought so little of her that they have merely used her body as they wished without permission or payment; apparently prostitution is too high an aim for her, as well.

Once her throat is raw and all of her tears are spent, Justina grips her sink with white knuckles and stares with loathing at her reflection. Virtually every resident in both Río Blanco and San Pedro once agreed that Justina had been a great beauty in her youth, but now there is only the evidence of years gone by in the mirror. Deep grooves line her weathered skin nowhere more than around her sunken, tired eyes, now as dull as her mother's once were. Looking into the mirror is like looking at the withered petals of a once vibrant blossom.

She cannot take this anymore.

There is a ceiling fan above the foot of Justina's bed. It is the only ceiling fan in the apartment, though Justina has never paid it any attention; it was broken long before she moved in.

It will finally serve a purpose tonight.

Her fingers tremble as she wraps her longest scarf around her slender neck and ties it there securely. With her feet firmly perched on the very edge of her bed, she spreads her arms out wide, ready to let go of everything. She has left only the briefest note behind, addressed to "my boys". "Forgive me" is all that it says; she doubts that it will ever reach Julián and Josué, but she needs to leave it behind regardless. One day, she hopes, they will forgive her for her countless sins and remember only her love, but she no longer has the strength to wait. Death, over these numerous days and months, has become her only chance for salvation; she craves it now more than anything else.

Justina takes a deep breath. She thinks of her boys when they were young, just happy little babies who smelled of everything good in the world, and of Rodolfo and the warmth of his gaze. She wonders briefly if Gabino will be waiting at hell's gates for her. She takes another, final lungful of air and lets go.

She falls.

The full weight of her body transfers to her ceiling fan as she plummets through the air, and with a sharp crack and a shower of plaster the broken, useless thing pulls away neatly from the ceiling, crashing straight into her already bruised back.

Justina lies on the floor in stunned silence for a few moments, uncertain at first of where she is and what has happened. Once she realizes that she's still alive, that she's failed, she screams out of rage and despair. She slams her balled fists into the mangy carpet and sobs, exhaustion creeping over her. She's just so tired, and all that she wants is to be done, to be free of this prison of a life.

She's going through her other options in her head — there's a tall, climbable tree next to the old motel where she used to work, and she knows that there's a bridge along the way — when she feels a familiar thumping beneath her hands. A raging meltdown is about to take her over when she suddenly realizes what song is making her whole apartment vibrate.

It's a Christmas carol — "O Come All Ye Faithful", she realizes. Memories of Julián and Josué opening their presents on Christmas morning — Rodolfo could never afford much, but they'd always been so delighted with the little that they received, happily thanking both him and her for weeks — flood her mind along with a new image: Julián with his new baby, certainly born by now, celebrating the holidays. Justina closes her eyes slowly and exhales through the sob bubbling in her throat as she finally comes to the conclusion that she has been too afraid for months to reach.

It's time to go home.