Solar Systems

Emmy wished she could sit in the courtyard after sundown and look upon the earth’s ceiling, sink into the solar system. She could barley see the sky from her bedroom. Abuela was forever reminding her that she should be grateful for her bendiciones (blessings). The fact that she had a roof over her head was far more important than staring up at an invisible one. More than being told she had to make something of herself, Emmy was constantly reminded by her Mother and Grandmother that she had come from nothing. So the small latch window which permitted only fragments of light and swirls was simply that, something better than nothing.

Growing up she had listened to stories about the days when abuela and mother had scrambled for food, how they had built their home with their bare hands. It was usually on a Sunday afternoon, when all the Feijoada had been eaten and the pack of cards put away. A gentle silence would fall over the room until one of her only two elder relatives filled the space with reminiscent words. Sometimes she felt guilty for all these things she had that she had never worked for, that she often took for granted, somehow they disconnected her from her family and yet still made her different from everybody else. She lived with a generation that refused to accept the world they had once belonged to was gone, yet belonged to one that refused to acknowledge any reality past or present, besides their own.

Emmy rolled over onto her front and reached to the dresser for her sketchbook and favored 525 grey shading pencil that she had stolen from the Art room at school. She flipped to her sketch of the courtyard sweeper, thickened his outline, smudged the patchwork pattern on his flat cap and gently blackened his pupils. She liked to draw on her bed because it was comfy and sitting upright reminded her of being in class. Being proper in any sense of the word was something she was not, and pretending otherwise was too much like hard work. Brushing a handful of canary curls off her face, she led the pencil tip to the top of the page and begun etching above the sweepers head, creating the cosmic world as she imagined it.

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

XV. Rainbow

She had lived in the slum for a couple of months.  A dot on the map of Merolas.
Abia knew its streets like the back of her hand. She had learnt its land and the ways of it’s people. Mainly because of Tariq. Because She would have gone anywhere with him, and because he knew everywhere to go.

When she lived in purple corner (that was normally where newcomers settled, on the outskirts it was less daunting by name and nature) Tariq lived on Arco Iris (Rainbow), which sounded like a dream to Abia.
After convincing her mother that it was closer to the market, caught more heat and sunlight during the hours they were awake, and was just enough west of the wind that blew in gusts from the city, they packed up their possessions and carted their salvaged home (if you could call it that) in bits to the block of multi-color.

Rainbow was central but it homed a backstreet all the way to the city edgeThe rat run was a store for secrets.
Within a week she had learned which roofs to climb for a birds eye view, which shrubs to avoid because although they looked smooth on the outside, they had tiny little thorns that would jab at your fingers should you touch them. Sometimes her neighbors would ask her to run errands, usually in the morning when they knew she would wake early. She would appeared with the sunrise, take their orders and seize her opportunity. A young woman in the streets without reason to accompany her was Spanish for trouble. With one she could exercise freedom. She knew where to get the cheapest cloth, even the silky satin kind coveted by all Merolas women. (Sometimes Mr Avedias would get her items especially from the cita. Knowing not all her neighbors would approve, Abia usually handed them over without words, but they rarely asked, so she rarely had to lie.

© 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