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

XIV. Lined

Before the Favela 

Her mother would tell her, as if like bedtime stories, anecdotes about her father. Abia could always see him in details if she closed her eyes. Thick dark hair with eyes wide like hazelnuts, glistening in the sun. But she liked to hear him spoken aloud, given presence with words. So even when he was gone he was there.
Her father belonged to no one, but her memories of him belonged to her.

Her favorite tale, one she could not decide was a recollection or a wish, (of both her and her mother), was the one she learned to ride a bike.
They had practiced every evening start to finish of sundown. Up and down their street, the wind through their hair and gliding feet, until Abia did not need her fathers hand to steady her, or his eyes to guide her.

She could listen to stories, she could sink into memories.
She could wish and she could dream.
But she wouldn’t ask why he had left. She couldn’t ask why he wouldn’t stay.

Such was Abia’s life. There were lines she could cross and ones that she couldn’t. There were lines she would cross and ones that she wouldn’t. Lines drawn as shapes in the sand, ones drawn in the stars that shaped her destiny.

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

XIII. Memories

Before the Favela

Sometimes, when the weather were hot enough, Abia would take her siblings hiking up the mountain side. The trees were almost tropic-like up there, and some even bore fruit.
They would sip juice and fry fish all day long, and only start the journey home when first light left the sky.
But with every outing came a responsibility which hindered all the freedoms of childhood. At eleven years old she was half a parent to her brother Daniel, and the twins Ana and Natàlia.

Her father had waltzed in and out of her life until the year Daniel was born. He and the twins had never known him. In thoughts she only allowed herself to think in the secrecy of night, she likened him to the moon. Greeting her with fleeting visits that silently promised departure. Some days he would be there waiting for her when she came home from escuela (school). She would know only thirty seconds before reaching her porch, his rusty second hand Suzuki lent against the crumbling front wall, the smell of tobacco and stale alcohol lingering in the afternoon air. In all her feelings of excitement somewhere Abia felt anxious, unready. He would ask about her school work, her friends. He would eat the dinner that her mother cooked, sleep amongst the blankets and pillows laid out on the downstairs sofa, and he would leave before dawn. Abia, not enough to make him stay.

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