Sisters Rafaella and Violeta are natives of a very dangerous city in Mexico and were able to escape to America. They have been in the country for years, living the dream, made a home for themselves together. They live together and work together at a laundromat. They love their job, but more than anything they love their freedom and being able to send money back home. During their shift at the laundromat ICE agents come in and detain all of the workers. Violeta, as the big sister, tries to warn Rafaella to run but she doesn’t, at first she hides, then freezes up and allows them to take her as well. Once in custody they take them to a detention center. They are terrified that they are going to be deported but something worse happens, they are separated. Rafaella finds herself stuck in a small cell with a large number of people and for the first time in her life she finds her voice, she has to now. Violeta is deported back to Mexico and Rafaella stays in the detention center. Now the sisters communicate through letters and because they love each other they lie saying that everything is great in Mexico and that Rafaella is the manager at the laundromat- all lies. As people we lie to the ones that we love the most, they don’t want the other to worry. But also, within that special relationship and bond is the ability, even through the words of a letter, to hear their loved one’s pain. As the story ends the sisters remember the good times and finally come clean about the present. Violeta’s illness that she contracted while at the detention center and Rafaella’s life moving from detention center to detention center. Even through this they find the words to support each other, love each other, and continue writing their life letters.

Life Letters

  • (Scene opens with Violet and Rafaella, two Hispanic sisters folding clothes at their job at the laundromat. They are giggling, they take a picture with each other. As if in a dream Violeta freezes. Rafaella looks at hear realizing her sister’s laughter has stopped. She is heartbroken. She puts down her clothes and opens a letter, begins to read. ***Performers may add more Spanish than what is designated as long as the translation is direct without changing the integrity of the script.)

    Rafaella: Hermana. (Beat) Sister, I miss you. Mexico is no place to live. The coyote says that he will be making another run, but I cannot afford it. Maybe you can save up money to send for me. (Violeta returns to the scene and begins to speak the rest of the letter, she is sick. Coughing. Rafaella looking at the letter, Violeta speaks.)

    Violeta: I want to come back. (Coughs, writing her letter.) Things are bad here, but I keep working in the field, I have to. Nuestra familia is fine. The kids miss their tia. (Forcing a smile) I just wish…we could be back at the laundromat, folding other people’s nice clothes, together. extraño tu risa- I miss your laugh. (She begins to laugh, transition both women are laughing and back in the laundromat together working.) So, explain this to be again, he asks you out, you go, and then-

    Rafaella: - then after dinner he goes to the bathroom-

    Violeta: - and leaves you with the check. (Dies laughing) I can’t believe someone would do that. What a jerk. Back home a machismo man would never let his queen pay for dinner.

    Rafaella: Back home we would have had a home cooked meal with his mother’s warm tortillas on the table. (They both stop for a moment in the memory.)

    Violeta: Mama would always make us girls sit in the kitchen when she made tortillas.

    Rafaella: (Mocking, in Spanish) “No man is going to want to marry a woman from Mexico who can’t make tortillas.”

    Violeta: She made sure we knew no Latino man wants a woman who can’t make tortillas. (They both laugh.)

    Rafaella: God I miss her. (Continuing to fold)

    Violeta: I miss all of our familia.

    Rafaella: The laughs, the weekend gatherings with the food.

    Violeta: Oh, all of the food, the pork carnitas-

    Rafaella: - with onion and salsa. Just the right amount of everything to make it perfect. (Smiling, beat.)




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