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The Wedding Guitar, pt 13 (Coco) - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
The Wedding Guitar, pt 13 (Coco)
Woo-hoo, made it to the end. With a big time jump.

Question: The logical place for this story to end, really, is with the line where Coco and Imelda walk away from the cemetery. But I couldn't get the xolo dog out of my head. Should I end it at the logical place, or, for no apparent reason other than my brain being weird, end with Dante's ancestors?

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12


Mamá leaned over and kissed her head, then tucked her tightly into her covers. "Everything will be all right, Coco," she said firmly. "I promise you that, and I will keep that promise. We will be all right, you and I. We will always have each other. And we will be all right."

And they were.

But the music was gone. It would never come back.


Time moved on. She loved her mother, but they fought until the day of the breakdown. She loved her uncles, and she had friends who she cared about. And she had the tiny scraps in her mind, the sound of Papá's voice. She would listen for it when things were quiet and she lay in her bed at night, the starlight making blue shadows on the walls.

She had many commands in varying degrees of seriousness from Mamá, but only two from Papá, and so she followed them as well as she could. The first was You'll be good for Mamá, won't you? She's a precious gift. Promise you'll be good to her, and love her so very much. This wasn't always easy -- Mamá could be hard sometimes -- but Coco did love her fiercely, and tried to be good. The second command was simpler: Remember me.

And so she hummed to herself when no one was home, and later, she learned to hum only inside her head. She wrote things that she called "poems" when anyone could hear -- she even won a school prize for one of them, about the sounds of the workshop -- but which, in her mind, followed the mysterious paths the tunes wound along. She memorized the words to all of Papá's poems, and whispered them to herself at night.

And that was how she grew up, cradled in love but still separate, still her own secret keeper. Someday, there would be someone to share her secrets with. But for now, she was

13

1946
walking away again.

It wasn't forever, and it wasn't a fight, but Coco truly disliked the fact that she was turning away from her husband, even if it was for the girls' sake. She could still hear Julio's voice, comforting Rosita not far away, though far enough that she couldn't make out the words.

She walked among the candles and marigolds, looking at the names of dead strangers while her arms grew heavy with Elena's weight. Beside her, Victoria walked along slowly, holding her skirt and looking around with bright, eager eyes, at the families gathered around the stones.

"Who is" -- Victoria squinted importantly and read from an unvisited tombstone -- "Estevan Vasquez Mendoza?" She smiled, pleased with herself for sounding it out. She was learning to read at an astonishing pace. Her beloved Mamá Imelda was her teacher in this, and she seemed unable to get enough words into her eyes.

"I don't know, mija," Coco said. "I don't have anyone here."

"Why doesn't anyone visit Señor Vasquez? Doesn't his family like him?"

"Maybe they're still at work."

Victoria bit her lip and considered it. "I think they are at work. But I think Señor Vasquez was a soldier, and he fought against Nazis."

Coco glanced at the dates, sitting down on a bench across from the grave and sitting Elena on her lap to give her arms a rest. "He would have needed to travel in time to do that, Victoria. He died before the war."

"Oh." She frowned. "What was before the war?"

"Oh, many things." Coco shook her head. "You really wouldn't remember, would you? You were barely a year old when the Potrero de Llano went down."

"The what?"

"It was a big boat. For oil. The Nazis made it sink. That's why we decided to fight them."

"With the Aztec Eagles!" Victoria said proudly. "They flew and fought and helped out! I want to be a pilot and fly a plane and fight with Nazis, like Tío Cedro."

"I think, thank God, that the chance for that fight is over. Remember… it's over? And they didn't have girls." She didn't correct Victoria about who her uncle had been fighting, either, even though he and the unit had been in the Pacific. There would be time for that later. She didn't understand it, anyway.

"That's stupid." Victoria stomped her foot, her perfectly sized shoe making a loud and delightful sound on a rock. She stomped it again for the joy of it, then mimed taking the controls of an airplane (which, in Victoria's imagination, apparently ran the same way as the new truck Mamá had bought for the shop; the uncles drove around with her in their lap and she thought she was the one doing the driving). She rose up into the air and dove for the ground, making bombing noises. "I could fly. You don't need strong arms to fly."

"You do if you're a bird," Coco said.

"I'm not a bird, Mamá. I'm a shoemaker."

"I thought you were a pilot."

This threw her, and at least seemed to derail her from the thought of gloriously defending her country from the evildoers of the world, like Julio and Rosita's brother, Cedro, who they were currently visiting at a quiet grave marker under a tree. Rosita had started weeping, thinking that he might not be visiting with his body not there -- Cedro's body was long gone, somewhere in the vast ocean -- which was why Julio had suggested that Coco take the girls for a walk.

Coco shuddered.

Finally, Victoria said, "I'll be a pilot who makes shoes."

"I'm not sure if you'll be able to…"

"Mamá Imelda says girls can do whatever we want, just like she did." The tone of this sentence had a kind of finality to it that Coco knew there would be no disputing. Mamá Imelda had said it, so it was so.

And maybe it would be so by the time Victoria grew up. Maybe she would be a doctor who made shoes, or the president who made shoes. (Either way, Coco didn't think Victoria had gotten as far as not making shoes.) Coco amused herself by imagining it -- Victoria sitting imperiously on a high workshop stool, handing down laws while she stitched seams in leather.

"Why are you laughing, Mamá?" Victoria asked.

"Because the world can be funny sometimes, mija."

She laughed, then, for no reason, stood on her head. "I will be a clown, too!" She started to walk along a line of stones, weaving back and forth comically as she pretended to lose her balance.

From somewhere deep in the shadows of Coco's memory, a gentle, much-loved voice said, My favorite audience likes clowns. I will be a funny clown for my Coco today.

She closed her eyes and tried to lasso that voice, bring it up further. She didn't talk about Papá, as it seemed to upset everyone, but she fought tooth and nail for the scraps of him that she came across in her mind -- the real memories, as opposed to the photo and letters, all living in some static past. Had that been a real one? She thought it was, but when had it happened? When had Papá said he would clown for her? She couldn't very well ask Mamá, and the only image that came to her wasn't of Papá. She wasn't sure what it was, exactly, just the glint of teeth in a smile under the impossibly black shadow of a sombrero. What on Earth was that supposed to mean?

"Mamá, what's that?"

Coco opened her eyes and frowned. Victoria's head was cocked toward the huge mausoleum, where candles and torches nearly made the cemetery as light as day. There was a crowd headed in that direction, as there often was. Aside from being de la Cruz's final resting place, there was a legend that the guitar stayed miraculously in tune. Someone had ceremoniously brought it to the plaza at noon and strummed it once to show this miracle, as they did every year on Día de los Muertos.

Coco had to get up very, very early in the morning every year so no one would see her picking the lock with her hairpin, or hear her testing the strings. And it wasn't just that she'd be in legal trouble for breaking into the mausoleum. She could only imagine the look on Mamá's face if she was caught in this particular bit of foolishness. But seeing that guitar hanging on pegs, losing its timbre, had been too much to bear, so she'd needed to do something. To leave it alone would have been an abomination.

To everyone else, of course, it was just part of the magic, a kind of benign haunting that gave them a thrill and something to whisper to each other about.

Fans.

And they were listening to...

Coco felt her back tense up. "It's a song, Victoria."

"Music?"

"Music."

Victoria listened as hard as she could. "There are words in it! Like the choir in church!"

"Yes, mija."

"Could we hear the words?"

"We don't need to," Coco said, trying not let the tension into her voice. "I know them. The song is called 'Remember Me.' Ernesto de la Cruz made it very famous. He always sang it. It's about… it's about someone who has to go away, and leave someone else behind."

"Why is everyone there? Are they all his family?"

"No. His parents are buried somewhere here, but there's no one else I know of."

"His parents are dead people?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"His papá had an accident with a car in the capital. A long time ago. His mamá had a sickness."

Her eyes went wide. "Are you going to have a sickness?"

"No, mija. I'm fine."

This seemed to reassure her enough to continue what she clearly considered a fascinating conversation. "Is the man in the big cemetery house a dead person?"

"Yes. That's why he's in the cemetery."

"Why is he dead?"

"A bell fell on top of him while he was singing."

"Was he a wonderful person? Is that why everyone visits him instead of Señor Vasquez?" She pointed at the grave they'd stopped at. "Or will they visit Señor Vasquez later?"

"They visit de la Cruz because he was famous," Coco said. "He was a singer."

"Singing makes you famous?"

"It can."

"Why?"

"I suppose because… because people think of the music as something that made them happy, so they love the person who gave it to them. Or the person they think gave it to them."

"What?"

"Nothing, mija. Ignore me when I talk about this."

Victoria looked like she might argue -- she was as stubborn as Mamá, and in fact looked a great deal like her right now, the line in the middle of her forehead deepening as she frowned -- but in the end, she was too enchanted by the night, with its candles and flowers, to work up a good argument. It was a good thing.

After de la Cruz had died, Coco had talked Julio into driving her to Mexico City, telling Mamá and the uncles that they wanted to have a vacation. In fact, she'd visited with a studio executive and tried to tell them that de la Cruz's songs were Papá's. She'd even brought the letters, and told them that they should have some kind of old screen test of de la Cruz that would show Papá. The man had been rude and dismissive, and all but accused them of forging the words to common songs and trying to profit on the death of a man who could no longer defend himself. Then he had threatened a lawsuit if the subject ever saw the light of day again. Victoria had only been an infant then, still at the breast, and Coco had sat in an anonymous hotel room with her afterward, crying onto her sweet little head as she fed. Julio had spoken to a lawyer, but the lawyer had told him that there was no case based on nothing but letters that might have been forged. And besides, the studio would only claim that they owned the songs -- whoever wrote them -- and they were not about to relinquish those rights, or the royalties they brought.

Coco didn't care about the royalties. She just wanted Papá's name on the screen. Something to prove that he had existed once, somewhere other than in her head. She wanted his life acknowledged.

Julio had knelt beside her and put his hand over hers on Victoria's back. "You're the acknowledgment, mi vida. As a papá, I can tell you now with perfect authority that it matters more than a name on the screen. And you should tell your mother what we came here for. You should tell her what this means to you. She loves you. She wouldn't hate you for it."

"Of course she wouldn't." Coco shook her head. "But it would hurt her, for no reason." She smiled. "She knows in her heart what we're doing, cariño. About this, about you taking me dancing last night, about everything. You'll see. You'll see, because she won't ask."

And of course, she hadn't asked, any further than asking if they'd had a nice trip. Coco had told her the capital was too busy for her tastes, and had too many rude people. Mamá had nodded. There wasn't any further need for talk. They understood each other.

"Can we see the cemetery house?" Victoria asked, pulling Coco out of the past. "I never looked at it."

"I don't know, mija. We're not tourists. Besides, maybe it's time to go back and see Papá and Tía Rosita."

"And Tío Cedro tonight!" Victoria added, clapping her hands. "Do you think Tía Rosita is all right?"

"I'm sure she is." Coco sighed theatrically and picked up baby Elena as she stood. "This one is getting so big, though! She'll need to start walking soon, or I'll have muscles like a luchador."

"I'll make her walking shoes!" Victoria announced, and started back. Coco followed.

In fact, Rosita seemed more or less back to normal. She was cheerfully talking to Cedro about the girls, and about learning to make shoes. She included her parents in this as well, saying it was like upholstery, which she hadn't believed when Julio had first explained it that way to her. "So," she was saying when Coco got back, "it's like we're still in our shop. And I'm getting very good at making the most comfortable slippers!"

Coco smiled. Rosita was a lovely addition to the family and she helped a great deal with the business end of things, but unless things changed, Mamá would never let her craft anything but bedroom slippers. She was altogether too excited, and worked too fast. Mamá loved her anyway, but business was business.

It was strange, spending Día de los Muertos here. Coco and Mamá and the uncles had never had anyone to spend the day with. There was never any ofrenda until Julio had put one up for his parents, and later, his brother. Coco had debated with herself about putting Papá's picture up there, but she'd decided not to. It would open a lot of old wounds, and no matter what Julio believed, Coco couldn't bring herself to think it made a difference to the dead. The dead were dead.

She didn't say it to the girls, because Julio wanted them raised with a proper respect for traditions, but for her own part, she wasn't even sure there was anything after the end. Mamá had stopped bringing her to church after Sister Teresa had made such a mess of things, and she'd only gone to a church school because Mamá didn't want her in school with boys. Whether Mamá still believed or not, she didn't know, but for herself, she just never seemed to have formed the habit. She had never felt Papá's presence, and in the graveyard, she only felt the wind. She supposed the girls would have a better outlook than she did, or at any rate, that it would do them no harm to believe. But to put up Papá's picture… it would do him no good, and it would hurt the living.

Still, it was a pleasant enough tradition, and it was a fine thing to honor people like Cedro, and to keep your love for them. If it helped Rosita deal with Cedro's death to put pan de muerto on his grave and pretend she was talking to him, then it was a good, healthy thing.

They spent an hour at the grave, and the tour group at the mausoleum made a disinterested pass by the non-famous, looking at the revelers avidly, like they were visiting a zoo. Some might have been Yanquis or even European, but Coco thought most of them were just city folk who'd forgotten their own ways, just as she would have without Julio to keep her grounded.

Candles started to gutter at graves whose visitors had already gone home, and a lovely cool breeze came up.

Julio sighed. "We should go home. We can keep talking at the ofrenda. Coco, did I ever tell you the story about when Cedro and I decided to hitch rides up to the border?"

"That's a very long trip. And no. And you left Rosita behind?"

"They always left Rosita behind," Rosita said fondly, with a grin at her big brother.

"I'll tell the story at home," Julio said. "The girls are tired. They should sleep."

They gathered up their things and started for home. When they turned onto the cemetery's main path, Coco looked over her shoulder at the giant memorial to de la Cruz. Someone was still piping Papá's songs from a hidden speaker. And…

She stopped and frowned, shifting Elena in her arms. There was a small figure in the shadows, a…

"Julio," she said, "will you take the girls for while? I… I think I lost an earring while we were walking."

"All right. We could help you look."

"No, it's all right. You're right, the babies need their rest."

"I'm not a baby," Victoria complained.

"The young ladies need rest, too."

Julio gave her a piercing look, then looked over her shoulder. She didn't know if he saw what she did, but he took Elena and gave her a big kiss, then said, "Victoria, take Tía Rosita's hand. We'll go home. Mamá will catch up."

And they walked away, leaving Coco alone on the path.

She sighed, and walked through the flickering shadows until she reached the deeper, solid shadow of the wall of the mausoleum.

Mamá was sitting on the steps, beside a decorative urn filled with marigolds, looking resentfully through the giant doors.

She didn't look surprised to see Coco. "All right," she said. "Go on, tell me I'm being a foolish old woman."

"You're not even fifty, Mamá. What foolish thing are you thinking of?"

"Staring at…" She gestured through the door, which was made of glass panes, so people could see in to the sarcophagus and the memorial painting… and the guitar. Coco didn't need to wonder which she was staring at.

Coco sat down beside her and took her hand. "If it's foolishness, we're both fools."

"I'm a widow, Coco. Whether he's dead or not, he left me a widow. He never should have left."

"You're still angry."

"If I wasn't angry, I wouldn't recognize myself in the mirror." Mamá smiled ruefully. "You're a better person than I am, mija."

"No. I'm the person who didn't have to figure out how to survive it, because I'm the person who had you to do that for me." Coco leaned her head on Mamá's shoulder, then caught the music in the air. "It's 'Poco Loco,'" she said. "It was yours."

"I've trained myself not to hear his songs anymore," Mamá said, then took a deep breath and closed her eyes, letting the music in, if only for a moment. Years fell away from her face. "It needs an update, though. I've gotten more than poco loco. Mucho loco."

"I'll try and write it, if you want…" Coco grinned.

Mamá rolled her eyes. "I'll forget this in the morning. You'll forget this in the morning. Don't tell anyone I was listening. I don't feel like looking at smug faces."

"I don't tell your secrets. Even to you."

"It's much appreciated." Mamá reached up and stroked her hair, as she had so many years ago, and they sat together through the rest of "Poco Loco," not talking. Coco didn't know where the music was coming from, exactly. For all she knew, it was still in their heads. But it seemed more likely that there was a cleverly hidden record player, and a cleverly hidden man changing the songs. After a pause, de la Cruz began to sing "Only A Song," and they sat through most of that one as well without any words (except Papá's) between them.

Finally, near the end, Mamá sighed, let go of Coco's hand, and stood up. "That is enough foolishness for one year. I shouldn't indulge it."

"Why shouldn't you do what you love, Mamá?"

"Because it's…" She shook her head sharply, the hard look coming back into her face. "Look what it did to your papá. This thing that's in all of us, like a snake, waiting to strike and make us crazy. We all hear it in our heads. I've even seen the baby tapping her feet. But tapping feet are wandering feet. And wandering feet…" She gestured, now almost contemptuously at the guitar. "We know where they lead."

Coco thought about trying to bring Mamá back to the music, but knew it would be useless. Instead, she took a deep breath, then stood up, linking her arm through Mamá's. Together, they walked away from the tomb, away from the wedding guitar, away from the past.

The song followed them almost to the cemetery gate now that the rest of the graveyard was quiet, but they lost it when they passed through into the land of the living.

In the cemetery, the worshipful young man who'd been tasked with playing records never saw them leave, or for that matter, saw them at all, so engrossed was he in the spell the music wove.

Beyond the cemetery, where the living saw only darkness, the glowing marigold bridge stretched into the fog. A xolo dog sat at the base of it, as she did every year, as her father had before her, and as his mother had, waiting for the one who had danced with them on a sunny morning long ago, and left his scent on their line, crossing their destinies together. They knew the scent of his mate, his pup, and her pups, and the broken and bleeding edges of their lives. Someday, there would be healing. Her instincts told her that she would know what to do if it fell to her. But it would not be today, or tomorrow.

She waited patiently until dawn, when the petals began to collapse away into the nothingness between worlds, then, shoulders slumped, returned to the plaza, where her pups were play-fighting over a chicken leg someone had tossed them. She lay down and watched them fondly until weariness overtook her and he fell asleep.

It would be another year. And another, and another.

But instinct was not dampened by calendars she didn't understand anyway.

The time would come, and she or hers would finally heal this break, and then they could become whatever it was they had started to become on the day of dancing.

For now, she slept, and the music of the plaza washed over her, and over her pups, and the humans, and even the broken house they watched so quietly.

And life went on.

THE END
12 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
princesselwen From: princesselwen Date: May 20th, 2018 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like the ending with the dogs. It helps to foreshadow the future.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 21st, 2018 04:26 am (UTC) (Link)
That's how it feels to me, too. I just wasn't sure if the foreshadowing helped the logical story flow for other people (or seemed natural to other people; I knew from the time the dog wandered on stage that it was Dante's ancestor, but no one else seemed to notice her, so...), or if it detracted from the story that was there.

Edited at 2018-05-21 04:30 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 21st, 2018 02:33 am (UTC) (Link)
"His papá had an accident with a car in the capital. A long time ago. His mamá had a sickness."
... 'accident'.

Coco wanting to put her dad's photo up but balking for fear of rocking the boat for something that may not even be real is so frustrating for us as outside observers but understandable in-universe.

I wonder what made the difference this time when Miguel took the records. Was it simply a case of time passing and the companies not being so beholdened to Ernesto? Or did he get more substantial proof this time around?

The Xolo was definitely a good way to tie this up. Do the pups not the descendents of Dante grow to be guides of others?

-- FFR
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 21st, 2018 04:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. Accident. Poor, up-and-coming Ernesto probably worked this tragedy as hard as he could, too.

I wanted some understandable reason that she wouldn't have just put her foot down, and it occurred to me that she might just have never considered the idea that it would make any practical difference.

If I do another story, it will be in the "skip-year" before the epilogue, dealing with questions like that. I doubt the authorities would take "Dead people told me so" as proof, so I'm guessing there's more to it.

I think only one of the pups in each generation gets "called" to watch the Riveras, up until Dante makes his transformation to alebrije. (After which, he's apparently immortal, given that Pepita is also randomly around a century after she was Imelda's housecat.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 21st, 2018 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Really, a dinner between Snow and Ernesto would probably be the height of dark comedy.

You mentioned a story possibility of the family searching for Hector's remains.
It may be worth seeing if the poison has any effects on bone that can be discerned after exhumation.
Though that in itself takes a while. Proof of plagiarism alone is probably good enough to damage Ernesto's reputation for the time being.

-- FFR
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 21st, 2018 05:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll have to do some research in cold case forensics. I do know where Hector's body fetched up (Ernesto wasn't lying about how the last time he saw him, he was on a train going north).

Ernesto and Snow eating together... yeah. Snow taking small sips and bites of things, Ernesto showboating and hoping no one will notice that he's not actually eating or drinking anything. Hopefully, no one tries to steal the copious leftovers.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: May 21st, 2018 06:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I think the dog was the perfect way to end it, and makes it a little brighter -- not that Coco et al are unhappy, they're doing very well, but it's still awfully grim, knowing what we know. It's nice to have that little peek forward to the time when everyone really will understand. Depressing to read about Coco trying and failing to get Hector's writings recognized -- but it's easy to see how nobody would have investigated (don't want to kill that golden goose, besides, who would ever believe it?) I don't think Miguel would have needed any more evidence now than she had, but the culture would have changed; Ernesto would be a more distant memory, though still revered, plus document analysis could show that those letters were written 100 years ago and would have been impossible to fake.

Ernesto's parents -- I was sorry to hear that his father gave in and moved to the capital, and I'll bet anything it shortened his lifespan. Possibly even his mother's, too -- that "sickness" probably had a lot in common with Hector's. His parents would have been much more useful as conveniently, tragically dead lay figures than as actual people who could push back -- and possibly spill stories of his youth which included a companion whom he definitely did NOT want remembered.

I loved the conversation between Coco and Imelda at the cemetery -- Imelda apologizing, and Coco recognizing how much Imelda had gone through to protect her. It was nice seeing those little cracks in Imelda's armor, and Coco's understanding of her mother. It's interesting that both Imelda and Coco aren't really believers in the afterlife or the dead coming back -- if people don't come back in life, after all,why should they do so once they're dead? I hope both were pleasantly surprised to realize that "they're all really out there" after all :). Poor Rosita wondering about Cedro, though -- I assume people can come back even if their bodies are elsewhere, though. (I had a momentary "Where was he in the movie?" thought, then realized oh, probably visiting their family of origin. He never became an honorary Rivera, after all, though perhaps he was one of those bottom line of photos on the ofrenda whose inhabitants we didn't see.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 21st, 2018 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
The other thing is, Mexican copyright would have run out. For deaths before 1928, it's life plus 75 years (since 2003, it's been 100 years, but it's non-retroactive), so, sadly, proving that Hector was murdered in 1921 would mean his copyright on the songs would have run out in 1996. So the studio wouldn't have been worried about royalties, and therefore might not have cared quite so much about that golden goose. Or maybe the studio folded a long time ago. If they'd thought it was Ernesto, he died during a time that it was life +50 years, so either way, there'd be no money at stake for them anymore.

Papa de la Cruz should have seen just that smidge more clearly, to know he wasn't somehow safe from his son's sociopathy.

It's possible that as she aged, Imelda could have softened about the actual ban, remembering the music she'd once loved... but that pride of hers would get in the way of ever reversing a decision once it had been made.

No one in the movie mentioned worrying about where Hector's body was, just about his picture, so I'd guess that once they're in the afterlife, they find out that doesn't matter. But I can see Rosita being concerned about it, as she visits and empty grave. I expect a lot of the photos were people from in-law families who were just not visiting the Riveras yet. ("We have a dozen ofrendas to get to!") And stopping by later, they'd be, like, "What's going on? These crazy people we married into..."
From: queen_bellatrix Date: May 23rd, 2018 08:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Catches/Thoughts

trying not let the tension into Just need a to before let.

take the girls for while Just need an a before while.

but they fought until the day of the breakdown Maybe just clarify a bit more which breakdown this was--it took me a while to realize oh, you were talking about the breakdown in the shop before the Ernesto visit. So maybe something like they fought until she realized how fragile Imelda was rending her hair on the shop floor?

I love that you ended with the dog, but again, maybe clarify; some other distinguishing feature of the picnic/festival. It took me a while to remember that oh wow, there was a dog Hector was playing with at the picnic, and it's still a little hazy. But oh, I love the meditations on healing you're able to give wonderful mother dog, and I think they're just the touch of hope you need at the end of the brew.

I just. love so many of the little details you included in this one: the warmth of Coco and Julio's marriage: that he is this person who can share her secrets and soothe, at least a little, the pain of her father's absence. I loved his line about how she was enough, and the meditation on fatherhood. What a sweet, good man.

And that she kept trying! to have Hector's life acknowledged; that just creates such a good trail for Miguel and the others to follow. That they are, unwittingly or no, following in the footsteps of their ancestors in this, too. It feels so important to me that while Hector may not've known about it, there were parts of his family who were trying to make the tragedy right.

And gaaaah, the relationship between Imelda and Coco. That there's so much respect and love between them, that Coco never tells Imelda's secrets even to her, and that Imelda clearly leans on Coco, needs Coco and her children to resurrect the gentle, laughing woman that Hector brought out. (That Imelda is teaching Victoria to read is something I adore; even amidst all the tragedy, there was so much wonderfulness that Imelda brought to the world. She made the steps in the cliff, all be it imperfectly and alone, and that's just really powerful.)

And the extent to which this family was robbed by Ernesto is just heartbreaking. Not only because of his fame, but being cut off from this magic that ran in their blood from fear and one man's greed. The scope of his crime just feels so mythic. That's something that was subtly shaded in the film, but the fairytale elements of it, the almost cursed nature of how his crime left them, is something you really made me see anew.

And oh! the little ones. I like Victoria especially, stubborn little spitfire. And I'm laughing at a Madame President making shoes, glorying in the thing that keeps her family close while changing the world. And smiling too at the idea that yeah, there will be healing; this's just a break in the tale, not the end. (Though I am so. so psyched at the idea of you writing that healing, bringing it full circle with the gap year fic.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 24th, 2018 02:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Thoughts

There's definitely an opportunity to clarify the dog thing -- Coco remembers the exact day earlier in the scene; I can add a reminder about the dog.

Julio's a bit intimidated by Imelda (like everyone else), but he's the one who's very gentle with Miguel, promising him it will be all right when he steps on the bridge. I think he probably is a sweet man.

I don't know how much of a trail the studio would have left of Coco's visit, but spiritually, at any rate, they're following her path.

One of the reactors I watched (a musician) at the beginning kept saying, "Aw, Miguel, you've got the WORST family in Disney history!!!" But that was so untrue. Even before the ban was lifted, they were so warm and loving. They were delighted to bring him into the family business, and Elena just showers him with affection, and his parents are soft-spoken and kind... The family Imelda built, while flawed, is super good. The novelization even has them randomly stopping on the way back from mariachi plaza (after finding Miguel) to help someone whose shoes were broken, because Elena always carries some laces and simple tools in case someone needs help. It's just a super sweet family, imho.

I do wonder what happened to Victoria. She's the same age as my uncle, and he's fine and going strong, but Miguel only seems to know her from the ofrenda, so she must have died *very* young. (The novelization has the order of deaths as Imelda, the twins--at the same time, then Julio, then Victoria, which means that, despite her dress, she would have died in the 70s or 80s. Then again, Miguel's mother wears some old fashioned clothes, too, so apparently, it's a thing.)
From: queen_bellatrix Date: May 24th, 2018 03:20 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Thoughts

So A. that's an amazing detail from the novelization. I tend to be wary of them, just cause I've seen some that're marvelous and some that're decidedly meh, but what a wonderful way to flesh out the world. And yeah, even when it's coded as nagging, cause that's how Miguel sees it, there's just so much concern! in the way they interact with Miguel.

As for Victoria, I'm also really curious. You could always go with illness, but that doesn't really reinforce the music ban. Neither, really, does her being directly in music; she's still on the altar and clearly bbeloved after all. One thing that instantly jumped out at me when you were talking about planes was: how much do you know about the industry of air shows and women, especially in the 20's to the 60's? That whole industry drew some fantastic, unconventional women, and while Victoria would be coming to it late in its glory, there still is an industry. And yeah, that was just the haven for lots of unconventional ladies, in all sorts of meanings of the word. So possibly flyer Victoria after all? :) Not only because you've already planted the seed, but because shows like that would have a very carnival-like atmosphere, really foster a love of performing that could be scarily like Hector's to both Imelda and her sister. And then yeah, if that ended in tragedy, especially if it were known that Coco and Julio were less than strict on the music ban where there kids were concerned; that could explain a lot. Especially if Victoria were also Imelda's favorite, and she'd been issuing dire warnings about her fate.

Edited at 2018-05-24 04:41 am (UTC)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 24th, 2018 04:44 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Thoughts

Stylistically, it's kind of 'meh,' and I think they blundered at one point. (Coco gets injured dancing, and it scares the girls, and that's what gets her to play along, which... I don't know, it just didn't come off very well. It was a sprained ankle, for heaven's sake.) But on the whole, it's pretty good, and has a storyline following the past, which is nice, since we get to meet Julio at least a little bit, and we see Pepita as well, when she was Imelda's pet cat.

ETA: There are some lines that were clearly from the script that I'm surprised were left out at the battle of the bands. First, when Hector tells Miguel that "Remember Me" is too popular, he rather bitterly says, "That song has been butchered enough for one lifetime." Also, part of the advice he gives to Miguel is that all great musicians sing to one person they love, and that love is the real key to great music. It was a great line and would have fit beautifully into the finished movie.

Edited at 2018-05-24 05:49 am (UTC)
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