A Red Birthday Balloon

In the slums, turning another year older was more a sigh of relief than a celebratory event. Once a year at the break of dawn, in a state nor of sleep or wake, Abia would imagine that a perfect day lay ahead of her. She would run errands in the morning, stop by Roja to lay in the sun for a while. Perhaps if the City were safer, She and Tariq would climb up and over it’s walls in search of an adventure. Simple birthday treats.

Once she had seen an advertisement for written cards in Homes and Lifestyle, one of Mr Avedias magazines. A family of four sat around a big oak table, Mother, Father, Sister, Brother. A cake with a candle for each year of age was arranged in front of the little boy, and a Red Balloon was tied to the back of his chair. The image was a cheerful one, full of smiles and laughter. Golden and blue boxes littered the surrounding room with bows as big as fists, dazzling in the suns reflection filtered in from the bay window. It came as a surprise to Abia herself that she never wondered what treasures they held inside. She wished she could reach into the picture and grab the balloon, tie it’s rosy string around her wrist and carry it everywhere. Or perhaps hang it out of the bedroom shutters, so it could float in Merolas breeze.

© elenaxtina.com, 2015 in Skies over A Shanty Town

XIX. Legacies

The day she saw him again the skies above the city were overcast. In so many years so much had changed, and yet at the same time, threads of her old life remained embedded inside her, laying dormant.

Trivial things reminded Abia of Merolas, the memories like jewels as jewels are passed on like memories. Two years before, ‘The Incredible Hulk’ was advertised outside the local cinema. The green monster-man so tall on the poster canvas she believed it must have been scaled to his actual size. It took one glance to recall another lifetime, her mind reminiscent in colour and laughter. Such is the thing about memories, you can never control the remembering. You could be home to a thousand at one time yet surrender as many in an instant. Sometimes the ones you remember are the ones you would most like to forget, and vice versa.

Her mind swum into a sea of green and a childlike sense of adventure washed over her. Like rapid waves rushing through her veins it was a memory she felt through her entire body. The first time she had seen the green monster-man was on one of Mr Avedias comic books, the only one he was never prepared to sell. When Tariq would barter with him for tobacco, she would steal a peak and build a story. Not being able to read, she had created elaborate escapes and voyages that evolved with each turning page. Now the green monster-man was a film, and she could walk right into the backstreet cinema and watch the story unfold in moving pictures before her eyes.

On occasional evenings, the sun lulled in the sky, growing sleepy before it set. Too light to sink and too heavy to sit for much longer on the horizon, it chalked a hue of gentle indigo over the entire city. A sunset that formed only one place in the world. A sunset of Merolas, of home.

 

He hadn’t aged how she’d imagined. His hair with streaks of feathery silver and crinkles growing toward the corners of his eyes. In a shorter blink she would not have recognized him, but a deep tug pulled her gaze, palpitations in her heart warned her to look again.

‘Who is that mama?’. Jorge pulled at his mother’s skirt.
Emmy turned back, her big blue eyes, two azure stones gazing up at her.

‘That is your abuelo (Grandfather).’ she uttered in a hopeful tone and the makings of a smile upon her face, almost despite herself.

© elenaxtina.com, 2015 in Skies over A Shanty Town

XII. Hummingbirds

Catalina peered through the door she had been told not to see.
She rarely tip-toed around commands set by mouth.

Opening in front of her, a chest of tesoro (treasure), a cave of wonders.
She dazzled in it’s reflection.

Set before her were the blessings from many lands.

From Sicilia, Rare Ortiga Lime Glycerin in hourglass decanters.
The elixir of youth, coveted for centuries after The Holy Roman Empress, Maria Theresa,
had sworn by its mystical properties.

Sage green and Chrystal yellow mosaic vases from Caltagirone (‘The City Of Sicilian Ceremaics’) encrusted with fire-like axinite.

Firenze (Florence) had sent Marzipan fruits in creamy shades of pastel, vino soaked ciliegie (sweet cherries)
and amarene (black cherries) coated in snow sugar.

And from the foothills of Bergamo,
harvested honey-glossed Satin sewn in the shape of roses through Mantua cloth.

Like a pendant hung from the chambers highest point, a gold plated cage,
Large enough for a jaguar or leopard. Inside two starry-eyed hummingbirds,
floating in electric feathers, singing in gentle melodies.

Their elegance unlike anything she had seen, Catalina did not know their origin.

© elenaxtina.com, 2015