Andy didn’t speak. He heard. His head turned wherever sounds came from, but he didn’t speak.
He didn’t see either, just shadows and movements.
Andy didn’t walk. If he was held up, he’d take one step, cry, and sit again.
We tried to interact. Roll balls. Clap our hands. Sing songs. Sometimes he’d ignore us, oftentimes he’d cry. Only mami’s voice calmed him. She fed him. Changed him. Bathed him.
Andy lived in an impenetrable, non-communicative, dark world filled with shadows and sounds. He passed on at age eleven. He would’ve turned 54 this October. Instead, he’s an eternal infant.
The Gaslight was extra packed. Angelica’s dark hair, usually piled atop her head, loosely framed her heart-shaped face. “Cheers, Angelica!” toasted her friends. It was tough, but she passed the bar on the first try.
Everyone was there: Eve, Frances, Frank, Joe, Professor Kendall, Sissy. Everyone, that is, except Lenny. He did not pass. He said he had to work late, but deep inside she knew he was home sulking.
She gulped a shot, then another. Not today, boyfriend, she said to herself. Today you don’t rain on my parade. Her eyes glistened, a cross between alcohol and unshed tears.
The babysitter sat the toddler on the potty chair. “Concentrate,” she commanded as she scrunched up her face and feigned to push.
The toddler, eager to please, imitated the sounds and gestures. Her tiny face reddened in the process yet she produced no results.
“We’ll try again tomorrow,” reassured the babysitter.
The next day, Mommy and baby went to meet friends at the diner. The two-year-old quickly bored. She fidgeted and became disruptive.
Mommy sat her on the high chair and said, “Concentrate,” unaware the babysitter used the command for other lessons.
Baby scrunched up her face did the deed.
“I have you,” he sighed. Or was it I love you? Clarissa’s eyes jolted. How to clarify without disrupting the afterglow? She loved him so much. Or did she? Did she really know love? It was too soon, in her opinion, to face this crossroad. There had been previous disappointments. She wanted to make certain. Oh, but how she hoped he said love and drifted to a light sleep. The room filled with magic eight balls. “Does he love me?” she asked each one. “Concentrate and ask again.” Her face contorted. A guttural cry escaped. “Love shouldn’t be this hard!”
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.