The crisp air hinted autumn. The sky azure, darker than sky blue, lighter than sapphire, devoid of clouds. Suddenly, police began to run south. A buzz erupted. “Did you hear? Did you hear?” I walked swiftly through Times Square and held tightly to my purse, aware that scoundrels strike when police are distracted. The buzz escalated to shouts of twin towers. Planes. Fire. Panic gripped my heart. My husband and many of our friends worked at the World Trade Center. Hours crawled before we learned that he and all our friends narrowly escaped the horrors. We were the lucky ones.
I expected rabbits to talk; to be carrot-munching wise guys, waiting for the next pratfall victim. Imagine my disappointment when I first encountered them at my grandparent’s backyard. They were nervous, wild-eyed creatures in wire cages, impossible to hold with thumping back legs. Rabbits were neither Bugs Bunny nor Peter Cottontail. Yet, their thick fur truly was heavenly to the touch. Beautiful whites, browns and every shade between. They smelled bad, though, probably due to the heat and humidity in Puerto Rico. Unlike the fancy church ladies of New York, who wore fur on Sundays, rabbits couldn’t remove their coats.
The body grieves when it loses a limb. It aches for the hand that scratched the chin or the leg that jumped double-dutch. These appendages do not grow like hair or nails. Yet, the body functions without the whole. It adapts to one leg. It scratches with the other hand. Vision readjusts to one eye, and if both eyes go missing, the other senses heighten. The body is miraculous. It adjusts to new circumstances, but the loss … The loss remains real. So it is with death. Life goes on but the gaping hole weeps for one more I Love You.
Captain dug in the front and rear anchors, securing the pontoon in place. As soon as he gave two thumbs up, the gang jumped in. All, that is, except Lily. She hesitated. The water was waist high and looked clean, yet she fixated on the lake’s boggy bottom. She shuddered at the thought of dead sea life mixed in with sand filtering through her toes. Seconds turned into minutes. The sun continued to climb. Soon beads of sweat dripped down her ears and cleavage. The building sweat washed away the phobias. She jumped in and welcomed the refreshingly cool water.
Lil Pete’s impish ways got him in trouble often. He disrupted classmates, sassed teachers, and neglected schoolwork. Teachers called frequently, “Mrs. Marrero, we must discuss your son.” His exasperated mother bit her nails unable to get him to conform to a scholastic code of conduct, and as sure as grass is green, he refused a college education. His mother feared he faced a bleak future.
Pete, not so little anymore, found his way at his own pace. He is a hardworking, loving husband and father. Yet the confines of a classroom haunt him. Therefore, his wife homeschools their flourishing kids.
Large black seeds filled the coral flesh of the watermelon. Its juicy scent made Lola’s mouth water. A long time ago, her grandmother had picked an extra-large Calabaza from the squash garden. The extraordinary Calabaza grew on a separate vine. Imagine her grandmother’s surprise when she cut into soft flesh rather than Calabaza’s tough flesh. A sweet treat for the entire family!
Lola pushed aside the black seeds. Most people prefer seedless watermelons, but Lola learned the morning of her grandmother’s discovery that watermelon with black seeds is sweeter and juicier than the seedless type. Give her seeded any time.
A nearby cat meowed. Liz jumped. Her heart raced and hands became sweaty. She rationalized her fears were irrational, but the body’s physiological reactions were all too real. Her knees trembled at the very thought of fainting onto the very street where dogs peed all day long. She willed her legs to move faster. When she entered her apartment, she collapsed against the door. The acrid taste of fear lingered in her throat. She knew she had to do something. Contact someone. She swallowed Nyquil and waited for its numbing effect. Tomorrow she’d call someone. Today she just craved sleep.
The air was so thick that if you were to swing a bat, you would see traces of a make-believe ball suspended in midair. Cousin Olga and I found refuge from the heat beneath the house. Our grandparents’ house was elevated on stilts that served two purposes: to level the house because the terrain was rocky and hilly and to avoid floods from streams that rushed downhill on rainy days. We always found treasure that had fallen through the floor cracks. Small objects such as marbles, balls, combs. We could count on finding lizards, frogs, and stray baby chicks, too.
This summer, two robins formed a nest on the door topper that my brother-in-law had gifted us. A roaring lion head representative of his masonry work. A week after the nesting period, three little beaks appeared, wide opened and silent like the lion. One parent fed feverishly while the other kept vigil. Two weeks went by before we heard the first chirps and the same day, the family flew away.
It has been five years since my brother-in-law left this world. Now the empty nest sits atop the lion topper waiting for new occupants, and we await another heavenly visit.
“Stick out your tongue.” The woman examined Jo’s eyelids then her nails. “You’re a Pitta.”
Jo walked out an hour later with a bag full of herbs. Dermatologists had looked at her face, pricked, injected, and prescribed creams and antibiotics. A year later, the red protrusions persisted. It was time to take a holistic approach to her health.
She tacked the short list of permitted foods on the fridge. The woman said it was the foods she ate and cut out all proteins and processed sugars for a month. Jo said a quick prayer and swallowed the bitter herb tea.