Mango Juice and Love

Yessenia Gutierrez

© Copyright 2023 by Yessenia Gutierrez

Photo by Timur Weber at Pexels.
Photo by Timur Weber at Pexels.

She spilled mango juice on my shoes. On my Louis Vuitton shoes! I loved them. I worked hard to earn enough to buy them. But when she spilled mango juice on my shoes, all I could think was: What stopped her from doing this earlier? Perhaps it was an accident. The accident that had to happen for us to meet. We had met before here at the cafe, but we never struck up a conversation. She was a waitress and I was a medical student. 

She was the most beautiful woman my eyes had ever seen. Her big brown eyes matched her gorgeous black hair. Her lips were so pink and full. I could look at this woman for hours.  

I am so sorry. I really didn’t mean to.” she said, as she grabbed a mop from inside the diner’s kitchen to clean up.  

It’s alright. Um, may I ask your name?” I asked.  

She chuckled. “Sofia. What’s yours?”  

Sofia, I thought. What a beautiful name, so exotic. She was Cuban and I was American.  

I’m Justin. Typical American name. Nothing like yours, Sofia.” I smiled at her. Sofia had an amazing smile.  

I've seen you here before, but you're always busy with paperwork. I didn't want to be a bother,” she said.  

"Oh yeah. I come here often to do paperwork. It's for school. Um, I'm a medical student at the University of Miami. In fact, I'm doing my residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital right now. So, what do you do? I mean, besides waitressing.”  

I shouldn’t have asked her that. It was obvious that she was just a waitress. I didn’t want to make her feel bad.  

Wow, that’s very impressive. Congratulations. Um, I'm just a waitress...for now. I would love to go back to school, but not all of us are lucky enough to afford it. Well, I'm sorry again for spilling the mango juice on your very expensive shoes,” she said, looking at my shoes in disgust.  

Enjoy your meal.” she added.  

Um, hey, want to go out to dinner with me tonight? I’m free and I heard about this new restaurant that opened downtown.” I asked.  

Sofia blushed. She was shy, but I could tell she liked me.  

Sure. I’d love to. Here’s my address.” she replied.  

Later that night, I went to pick up Sofia at her house. She lived in little Havana. I lived in West Palm Beach. There was distance between us, but I didn't mind driving to see her. I was captivated by Sofia's beauty, accent and kindness.  

I waited in the car for Sofia. Her house looked good. It was small, but nice.  

I saw the front door open; Sofia came out. She looked amazing.  

She was wearing a white dress with black heels and her hair was tied up in a bun. Her lips as red as blood.  

Wow, you um,” I exhaled.  

Something wrong with my outfit?” she asked.  

Um, no! You look stunning. I was looking for the right word to describe how beautiful you look tonight.” I replied.  

Sofia laughed.  

Thank you, Justin. You don’t look too bad yourself. So, where are we going? I am hungry.” she said, as she took her phone to connect it to the car.  

I hope you don’t mind. I want to listen to Spanish music. You know, Salsa.” Sofia was so cute. And I, I was so nervous. We arrived at the restaurant.  

I opened the car door for Sofia. I wrapped my arms around her as we entered the restaurant.  

Table for two, please.” I said.  

This way, please.” said the waitress.  

The restaurant seemed nice.  

It was cleaned.  

There were many people and the music was wonderful.  

I’ll have the fried chicken with cheese and bacon with mashed potatoes and gravy.” said Sofia.  

I will have the salmon with mashed potatoes and vegetables, please.” I said. “What about to drink, sir?” asked the waitress.  

Cola for me, please.” said Sofia.  

I’ll have Cola as well. Thank you.”  

It felt like it was going to be the best night of my life, I was going to ask Sofia to be my girlfriend.  

I was feeling her. And I could sense that she was feeling me too.  

So, tell me about yourself. Were you born here? Any family or friends?” I asked, as I took Sofia’s pretty hands to kiss them.  

Sofia removed her hands. I felt awkward.  

Um, I wasn’t born here. I was born in Havana, Cuba. I came at fourteen years old. Um, I graduated Miami High School. But I didn’t attend college. I’ve been a waitress for almost five years now. And I have my mother here. My dad is in Cuba.” she said.  

Wow, what an incredible story. You and your mother are brave. I bet it’s not easy being in another country far away from your family, especially from your father.” I said.  

Sofia laughed.  

Yeah, we miss him, but it’s okay. We wanted freedom. We like it here. So, what’s your story Justin?” she asked.  

Uh, let’s see. I’m 100% American. Born and raised in Ohio. I came to Miami for college. Um, my dad was a cardiovascular surgeon. He uh, passed away last year.  

Oh, no, I am so sorry.” she said.  

It’s fine. My mother’s a nurse practitioner.  

Well, we work at the same hospital so that’s a plus. I laughed.  

Justin, what do you want from me?” she asked.  

What do you mean?” I asked.  

I knew what she was asking but I wanted to hear her say it.  

What do you want from me? Let’s be honest here-”  

I interrupted her.  

Honest? About?” I asked.  

Justin, we can’t be more than friends. You do know that, right?” she asked. Suddenly, I felt sadness. All my excitement for Sofia ended instantly.  

No. I didn’t know that. May I ask why?” Sofia sighed.  

Our dinner arrived.  

Food is here,” said the waitress. 

 “Mm, looks delicious.” said Sofia.  

Smells fantastic.”  

We started to eat.  

Sofia surely seemed to be enjoying her food.  

Can we talk about why we can’t be more than friends? Because hearing you say that has really hurt me.” I said.  

It’s simple. I’m a waitress. You’re... Well, you’re going to be a doctor. Your whole family are doctors. I can’t compete with that.” she replied, as she ate her dinner.  

Sofia was nervous. She was shaking.  

Wow, I didn’t know love was a competition.” I said.  

Love?” she asked, laughing.  

Justin, we just met. And you are already talking about love? And it’s not a competition, but trust me when I tell you your parents don’t want to see you dating a... A waitress like me. Your mother would be much happier if you dated a nurse, or a doctor.” she explained.  

That’s not true. All my mother cares about is my happiness. If I’m happy with the choices that I make she is happy too. You know, Sofia? Not all rich folks are the same. My father taught me that. He taught me to be humble. He married my mother when she was nobody. And guess what, Sofia?” I asked. “What?” she asked.  

He helped her become someone. His patience acceptance and love made my mother who she is today. And did she have to have a degree to marry my father? No. Did she have to have money to be with him? No. All she had to do was be herself. And that, my dear Sofia, was more than enough for my father. If he was alive, he’d like you I can promise you that.”  

I smiled.  

Justin, that was beautiful. It’s not just about being a waitress and not having money. There is more. So, please just drop it.” She sounded upset.  

At around 11:03 pm we were in the car. Sofia was quiet on our way back. “What else is there?” I asked.  

Sofia turned on the radio.  

Sofia, what else is there? You said there was more.” I asked, as I turned down the volume on the radio.  

I rather not say. Please, respect my decision.” she said. Her voice was breaking.  

I knew there was something more.  

I also knew that whatever it was it wasn’t good.  

Alright. I am sorry. We’re here.” I said.  

Thank you for such a lovely night. I enjoyed it.” she said, as she smiled at me. “Anytime. I’d like to see you again, Sofia.” I said.  

I’ll think about it.” Sofia was going to get down, but I got down to open the car door for her.  

Thank you so much,” she said.  

Let me...”  

I held Sofia against me and slowly kissed her.  

Justin, why did you kiss me?” she asked.  

Sofia, I want to be with you. I like you.” I replied.  

I like you too, but we can’t, okay? I better go. My Mom is probably worried. Good night.”  

Sofia walked into her home.  

I was confused.  

Why was Sofia acting so weird? Why couldn’t we be together? I went home.  

I laid in bed and tried to go to sleep, but all I could think about was Sofia.  

The next day I had to be at work early.  

I was at Jackson Memorial Hospital, which is near Little Havana, where my dear Sofia lives.  

I wanted to visit her after work.  

I thought about her and how we met.  

I missed her.  

I know we hadn’t known each other for a long time, but there was something about her that I couldn't let go of.  

Justin, I'm so proud of you. You are a good student and you learn fast. I'll need you here next Thursday. There is a patient that I have been treating for two years. She has leukemia and is only twenty-one. She is one of my favorite patients. She is so sweet and strong. I can't wait for you to meet her.” he said, as he put his hand on my shoulders.  

Sounds great, Dr. Walter. What will I do with her?” I asked.  

You will be her caretaker while she remains in the hospital.  

Lately, she has been feeling tired and weak, I want to know what is wrong with her. Leukemia can make you feel that way, but chemotherapy should help with that.” he replied.  

Ah, okay. I understand your concern, Dr. I will do my best.” I smiled.  

After work, I went to buy flowers. I also bought mango juice. You can probably imagine what I had in mind.  

Yes, I was on my way to visit Sofia. I wanted to make her happy. I wanted to convince her to go out with me. I knocked on the door. An older woman opened.  

Hi, can I help you?” she asked.  

Hi, I’m Justin. I’m looking for Sofia.” I replied.  

Oh, she told me about you. It’s nice to meet you. Beautiful flowers. Please, come inside.”  

I went inside the house.  

Thank you.” I said.  

I’m Hilda, by the way. I’m Sofia’s mother.  

She’s taking a shower she will be out soon.  

Would you like something to drink?” she asked.  

No, thank you. I bought her mango juice.” I replied.  

Sofia’s mother smiled. She seemed happy.  

This is very sweet of you. You like my daughter, don’t you?” she asked.  

Yes, I do. But you know she says we can’t be more than friends and I have been wondering why she says that. I know she likes me too. I don’t see what’s the problem.” I said.  

Hilda sighed and sat on the couch.  

I guess she hasn’t told you, huh?” she asked.  

Um, what do you mean? Is something wrong?” I asked.  

I was curious to know. Hilda looked worried. Sofia came into the living room. “Justin? What are you doing here?” she asked.  

Oh, he came by to bring you flowers.  

He also brought you mango juice. Isn’t that sweet, honey?”  

Hilda smiled.  

Yes, it is. Thank you so much, Justin. May I ask, why mango?” Sofia drank. “Because it’s the reason we met and went out. It’s the reason why I am so happy right now.” I said, as I went to Sofia, and planted one kiss on her forehead.  

Justin, I told you we can’t--” I put my finger over her lips. I didn’t want her to say that we couldn’t be together.  

Please, stop. It’s obvious you’re hiding something. Whatever you’re hiding is the reason you’re saying we can’t be together, but guess what? I don’t care. I don’t care anymore. All I care about is being with you, Sofia. Let me be with you. Let me love you.”  

I caressed her face and kissed her gently.  

We shared a passionate kiss.  

It was the best kiss I had in my entire life.  

When I opened my eyes, I noticed Sofia’s tears falling down her pretty face. “Sofia, what’s wrong? Was it that bad?” I asked.  

No.” she replied, as she wiped her tears.  

Then, what is it?” I asked.  

It was the best kiss I’ve had all my life...” she said happily, but seemed sad. “Sofia, you can’t hide it anymore. I know you feel the same way as me. Please, be my girlfriend.” I said.  

Justin, I wish I could. Look, um, the kiss was good but it shouldn’t have happened. Please, go away and don’t come here again.”  

She opened the front door for me. Hilda came to walk me to the door.  

I, I just don’t understand why. Is it because I’m white? Or because I don’t speak Spanish?”  

I was upset and confused.  

Oh, no! It’s none of those things, dear.” said Hilda.  

Can you tell me, Hilda? Please?” I asked.  

If my daughter didn’t tell you, I’m afraid I can’t either. But I can tell you this, it’s not her fault. It’s... Life. Good night, son. It was nice meeting you.”  

Hilda closed the door.  

I wondered what Hilda meant by what she said. I got inside my car and went home. My phone rang. My mother called me.  

Justin, honey, how are you? You haven’t called me in a week.  

Is everything okay?” she asked.  

Hi, Mom. Yes, everything is fine. I’ve been busy with work and studies. How are you? How’s Uncle Dan treating you?” I asked.  

Oh, I’m so glad to hear that. He’s alright. Being the annoying big brother like he always has.” said Mom, as she laughed.  

Well, I’m glad. Listen, I will visit you soon, okay? I have to work on Thursday.” I said.  

Aw, okay, baby. I understand. I love you, Justin. Don’t forget that. I miss you.” she said.  

I hadn't visited my mother since my father's funeral. Not because I didn't want to, but because I didn't have time.  

I miss you too, Mom. I'll be there soon. I promise.Take care of yourself.”  

I missed my Mom, but more than anything, I missed my father.  

He was my motivation, the one who inspired my career.  

He taught me so many things. I am following in his footsteps.  

I lost him too soon, he was only forty-eight I miss him terribly, but I know that wherever he is, he is proud of me.  

I woke up Thursday morning to go to work. I felt sad. I wasn't happy and I didn't know why.  

Was it because of Sofia?  

Did she really have that big of an effect on me? Or was it because of my father? Did I really miss him that much? I showered, dressed and went to work. Driving at eight in the morning is hell in Miami.  

The traffic is horrible. Finally, I arrived. I went to the oncology floor, where Dr. Walter works.  

Good morning, is Dr. Walter here?” I asked.  

He hasn't arrived yet, but his patient is here. She is in her room waiting to speak to a caretaker. I think it's you, Justin.” replied Nurse Judy.  

Oh, great. Thank you, Judy.”  

I proceeded to the patient’s room. I knocked on the door.  

It’s open!” said the patient. When I entered my heart nearly stopped pumping. I was in disbelief.  

Sofia?!” I asked. 

 “Justin? Oh, God.” she exhaled.  

Sofia, what- What are you doing here? No, wait a minute.”  

I looked at the medical records. Sofia Rodriguez. Twenty-one years old. Diagnosis: leukemia. Seen by: Dr. Walter oncologist and Dr. Harrington hematologist.  

I’m sorry. I just didn’t know how to tell you. I don’t know how to tell this to anyone. It’s not an easy thing to do.” she said.  

You have Leukemia. Is this why we can’t be together?” I asked.  

Yes. It’s terminal.” she replied.  

I was there, but the moment Sofia said that, I felt like I wasn't.  

I felt like I died.  

I felt goosebumps and my heart began to race. Everything had made sense now.  

Sofia refused to be my girlfriend because she was dying.  

I couldn't believe this.  

Justin, are you okay?” she asked, as she got up from the bed.  

Um, yes. Don't get up. I know you've been feeling tired.” I said.  

I helped Sofia back to bed.  

She was so skinny and pale.  

She didn't look like the woman I met at the cafe.  

I guess it was all makeup.  

However, she was still the most beautiful woman my eyes had ever seen. And kind, she was the kindest. 

 “Thank you. I'm sorry you had to find out this way. I didn't have the guts to tell you this. I didn't want to be a disappointment." she explained.  

"You're not a disappointment. You should have told me.” I said.  

Well, the truth is that I like you a lot, but I don't want to hurt you. I wish things were different. I wish it wasn't terminal, but it is and I can’t do anything about it. It is God's decision. I have accepted it.” she said.  

You are such a beautiful and incredible woman, Sofia. I'm so happy I met you. I'm even more glad you spilled mango juice on my shoes.”  

We both laughed.  

I’m serious, you are strong and so kindhearted. How can I not love you?” I asked, as I kissed Sofia on her lips. “You love me?” she asked.  

From the first moment I laid my eyes on you, Sofia. I have loved you.” I replied, and gave Sofia another kiss.  

Justin, I love you too. But one day I won’t be here anymore to love you and make you happy.” she said. I sighed.  

Don’t say that, my sweet angel. Don’t think about the future. Just enjoy the present. Enjoy now.” I smiled.  

Your sweet angel? I'll be your angel someday. When that day comes, I will always watch over you from above, my love.” she said, as she grinned at me in pure happiness.  

I love you.” I kissed her.  

That day we became a couple. Sofia was the best girlfriend I could ask for. She was sweet, selfless, strong and loving.  

She taught me Spanish. She taught me how to dance.  

She was always there for me.  

During my residency I had the opportunity to take care of Sofia.  

I learned a lot about her and her illness.  

Sofia was a very brave person. She was not afraid of dying.  

She accepted all the obstacles she went through and with her positive mindset and patience she overcame them.  

I decided to become a surgical oncologist to help people diagnosed with cancer. I want to be able to save lives.  

I wish I could have saved Sofia's.  

I write this with a broken heart, Sofia, my Sofia passed away on my twenty-fourth birthday.  

How do you feel, my love?”I asked,looking into Sofia's wide eyes.  

As if I was ready to die. I can feel it, Justin. It's time.”she replied, taking my hand and squeezing it. 

Please try to stay longer. I need you, Sofia. I haven't even graduated yet.  

I need you to be there. I need you to cheer for me. Please , Sofia.” I said, as I leaned my head on her lap.  

Justin, I love you. I love you with all my heart. I always will. But I have to go.God is calling me. It's time to go home. Don't worry. I will be present at your graduation. You will see a light on the other side of the auditorium. The light will be me cheering you on and very proud of you, my love.” 

Sofia kissed me.  

You are so incredible. I love you so much. I will miss you so much,” I laid my head on Sofia's chest and cried.  

I was devastated. Hilda entered the room.  

It's time to say goodbye. I'm not feeling well.” Sofia said. I 

I could see that Hilda was holding back tears. She was shaking. 

Justin, please call Dr. Walter.”I went to find Dr. Walter. I couldn't focus.  

I was in too much pain. Not physical but emotional.  

How was I going to live without Sofia?  

She was my everything. 

Justin, has something happened?” asked Dr. Walter. 

She says it's time… Time to say goodbye.”  

I cried. Dr. Walter gave me a hug.  

I'm so sorry, Justin.  

I really wish I could do more for her.  

I know how much she means to you.  

I know how much you love her. But there is nothing we can do. Feel grateful for the wonderful times you and Sofia had together.” he said.  

Thank you. I really needed to hear that.”  

We went back to the room.  

Dr. Walter examined Sofia. 

I'm in a lot of pain, Dr. Please call Justin and my mother.”she said. 

I am here, my love.” I said,I took her hand.  

I'm here too, honey. I love you, mi Chiquita.” 

Hilda kissed her on the cheek.  

Justin, I love you. I promise to love you forever. I know that we will see each other again. Until then, please don't cry for me. Don't waste a minute of your life grieving for me. I want you to go out and do what makes you happy. Do everything that makes you happy. You will be a great doctor. And if you meet a woman, a good woman. Please try to love her. Make her as happy as you made me,my dear. I love you, Justin. I'm sorry that what we had couldn't last long.” Sofia sat on the bed and kissed me. She also hugged me. 

Mother I love you. I always will. I want you to tell my family in Cuba that I spent the last moments of my life filled with happiness. Tell them about Justin and how happy he made me. Tell dad and the others that I love them. Thank you for taking care of me, Mother. Thank you for loving me and being there for me when I needed you. I love you and you are the greatest.” 

Sofia kissed Hilda. She hugged her too. 

Dr. Walter, I can't thank you enough for everything you've done for me. I know you did the best you could to get rid of this cancer, but unfortunately God didn't want it that way. Doctors are not heroes. Doctors are protectors. Doctors can only do so much. I am thankful for everything.  

You helped me live longer. Two years is a long time. I love you and I hope you can save your next leukemia patient.”Sofia kissed Dr. Walter.  

We all cried in the room. Sofia was dying and I couldn't change that. I felt angry. The love of my life was dying and there was nothing I could do about it. Suddenly, Sofia closed her eyesand stopped breathing. 


I ran to the edge of the bed and held her in my arms.  

She's gone, son. Let her rest now.” said Dr. Walter.  

It was the worst day of my life.  

Letting her go was the hardest thing I had to do.  

She taught me so many good things.  

She taught me passion, loyalty, selflessness, patience, love, but most importantly, she taught me kindness.  

Be kind to everyone no matter what.  

We are all fighting a battle and it doesn't always have to be a disease.  

Nobody is perfect and nobody has a perfect life.  

We are all struggling with something.  

Being kind is the easiest thing one can do.  

Being kind can bring you happiness.  

Sofia spilled her mango juice on my shoes, on my Louis Vuitton shoes.  

I was kind enough to forgive her, so she brought happiness to my life.  

I will always love Sofia.  

I will always miss her.  

I will always drink mango juice to remember how this sweet angel and I met.  


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