Forever Young [Vasco x Marisol] Mar 26, 2020 0:52:04 GMT -5
Post by zori on Mar 26, 2020 0:52:04 GMT -5
Emma’s gone to bed, and Yani’s climbed in with her tonight, complaining of another nightmare. I’m left alone to wander the halls of a house too big for three people.
I draw the black curtains over the mirrors1. I open a window. I put all of the picture frames face down, kissing each one for luck. I leave a coin face up at the front door and stand to take in the cool of the winter’s chill. Stars are out in force above, not a cloud in the sky.
Raquel used to laugh at how close I held traditions to my chest. What’s the use? She’d once asked when I set out Uxue’s tablet, You didn't even know her, did you?
On nights like these it’d be easier to just bury myself, and let all of it go. That maybe it’d be better if I was like everyone else, not stuck halfway between what used to be and the world as it is now.
(But I can’t let them go.)
White wax drips down from the argizaiola2 across the hardwood of the kitchen floor when I light them.
Nine candles curled around wooden tablets for the eighty-four years of memories.
One for a girl that was supposed to be married. Another for a boy that wanted us to be good to one another. One for a monster. One, a soft soul. One for a girl that could’ve brought us together. One for My daughter – my daughter.
It’s hard to breathe.
(It’s okay, I can keep going I just – need a moment.)
One, a boy who sacrificed himself. Here, an artist, and tempered soul. A girl that stood up for what was right, even when it was hard.
I want to pray that all of them find safe passage. That they’re looking down at me from the stars above, a whole constellation meant to protect us. But I can’t wish that, can’t dream that whatever their deaths meant were supposed to hold promise for the rest of us. I can’t stop my hands from shaking when I stand over the kitchen sink, ready to wretch out the few bites of pork I’d managed at dinner.
You’ll hear it’s a debt to pay, like human life could be counted up and measured.
How am I supposed to tell Yani when she wakes up tomorrow, she’s gone? Both of your cousins aren’t coming home, they fought hard as they could, they lived lives that should have kept them safe, but no – I couldn’t do a thing about it. Lordes and Aresti, three kids, three that they birthed, fed, and lived and laughed and, they brought them up and they’re gone. Didn’t Alfonso paint some of my posters for the election? Hadn’t Sarina watched Yani before?
And what did I offer, standing over the cold stainless-steel faucet at the kitchen sink, ready to tear open my shirt, fall to my knees, and let go of everything? What I’d give just to scream to the heavens and crumble like I wish I could do.
If only I were the type of man that would wash it all away with a bottle of whiskey, or take enough drags of a joint to fall asleep stupid. But instead I’m standing in the middle of the kitchen, watching candles burn down to nothing, whispering out little clouds of smoke for all the years these kids lost. And maybe that’s just it, that they were condemned, and I was meant to go on living, suffering so that they didn’t need to.
But that’s a filthy lie that doesn’t sit well with me. It sinks to the pits of my stomach and I feel the bile rise in my throat. No, it was cruelty that killed them. We were just the ones left to pick up the pieces.
(But I’m so tired.)
Tired of the funerals. Of wearing black as though it’s a second skin. Of trying to smile through all of the sorry for your loss, of staying cheery and trying to lift up the ones who needed lifting. Sometimes I feel so empty, I want to lay down and never get up. Even all the good I’d done as mayor, and all the people we’d helped these past four years didn’t compare to the minutes I’d trade them for with my family.
I clean up and stack the tablets, and leave them on the kitchen table for Emma to see.
I pull a little tray wrapped in foil from the fridge and move to get my coat from the hook by the back door.
So I trace my steps back to the happiest place that I know. One that brought me joy, even when the world around us might’ve felt as though it were coming apart. I can close my eyes and still see how little I was, listening to Marisol’s sing-song voice teaching me to form the old words (never cruel in my stumbling pronunciation). I can still picture Gero, heavy hands on my shoulders saying he’d always be there, ready to catch me if I ever fell.
Her home’s well-worn windows are dark at my approach, and I stop at the porch to catch my breath. Was it fair to be here now, and bring this to her? How much did she have to take, and how much could she carry, that I was here to add another spate of bad news? Why couldn’t I hold it back on my own, just as I had all the time before, until at last this feeling passed and I could carry on again?
But this felt different. Like a shattering deep within, something broken. Something out of place.
I knock with my fist, soft at first, then in rapid succession.
“Marisol,” My voice shakes, and I clear my throat, forehead pressed to the door. “Soy Vasco…”
(I need help).
1 In Basque culture, covering mirrors and pictures in black cloth is a sign of respect for the dead in their passing
2 Argizaiola are wooden tablets wrapped in wax candles, burned as an offering of light for the dead