Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME

Tarnished Beauty by Cecilia Samartin

Jamilet is a beautiful young woman from a small town in Mexico. Throughout her life she has been shunned by local townspeople because of a horrible birthmark that taints her back and part of her legs.She flees to Los Angeles illegally in order to seek treatment for her birthmark and begins working at a local mental institution. Her patient is an elderly man named Antonio, a difficult and angry man from Spain. Antonio insists that his true name is Señor Peregrino. Antonio steals Jamilet's illegal immigration documents and promises to return them upon the condition that she listens to his story. Jamilet agrees, and thus begins an unbreakable bond.

Antonio’s story details his pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago in Spain with his friend Tomas prior to joining the priesthood. The young men meet two young women: Rosa, a beautiful but destitute woman and Jenny, a plain but wealthy woman. Both Antonio and Tomas instantly fall in love with Rosa. Antonio and Rosa promise to get married once they reach Santiago. Upon arrival, Antonio learns from Jenny that Rosa has instead married Tomas. Antonio marries Jenny, but doesn’t learn the truth about Rosa until years later. He is so pained by the revelation that he isolates himself in his room at the institution.

Inspired by Antonio’s story, Jamilet learns that her mark does not define her as a person. Beauty is more than skin deep. She breaks herself free of the shell that has been preventing her from opening up and allowing herself to love.
The ending of the story was a bit sudden; several aspects were left hanging, but this doesn't detract from the powerful storytelling.

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Tarnished Beauty by Cecilia Samartin + TIME