Locked In, Locked Out

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March 21, 2022 by The Citron Review

by Carisa Coburn Pineda


I selected my bedroom set at a well-known furniture store in Barrio Lujan. It had a shiny gold metal finish and included a glass and gold vanity with a mirror and a pink velour seat. The nightstand was white and had a glass top. I even got the gold and white lamp that turned on when you tapped it, one tap for dim, two taps for a brighter light, and three to turn it off. I was 14. Before we moved in to the home in Tres Rios, my mother chose tile and paint colors. I’d approved blush pink paint, but ended up with Pepto-Bismol not Palo de Rosa. And the tile floor tile was much shinier than the sample piece. I could see my reflection. There were regrets, not even months later, too much metal and I wished the walls were black. 

One morning the doorknob broke; I was trapped; the window had bars to prevent burglaries. We both tried to open it, frantically, until my mother finally called a locksmith. I waited on the other side in my white nightgown, eager to get my shower, but also wondering if I should have just skipped it and changed into jeans so the locksmith wouldn’t see me like that.

We ran late for my violin lesson in Heredia. When we returned, my mother called the same locksmith; she’d left her house keys in the refrigerator, “Señora, in all of my years doing this work, I have never been to the same house in one day.”


Carisa Coburn Pineda is from Costa Rica and the United States. She studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California and received degrees in Spanish Literature and English and Comparative Literary Studies. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland, College Park. She lives in Burke, VA with her husband and their two children.





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