XVIII. Blurry River Roja

Abia stared at herself in the reflection of the blurry River Roja. When the wind was high its jade green waters gushed fast and wild like her imagination. When the gales settled, so it did, reduced to silent ripples.

She had never thought of herself to be womanly. She gazed at her slender frame, with no noticeable hips and wondered if she would ever look the way her mother did. Rose was comfortingly shapely with porcelain skin and cheeks that ran her namesake plushy pink when she sat out in the sun. She often caught the eyes of the townsfolk, her own a rarity gift, two azure stones that imitated the ocean. She was a breath of fresh air, naturally beautiful.

Abia crouched on the riverbank, brought her knees up to her chest and clutched her elbows. Bony and cold. She was a lot darker than her mother, with thick hair and sunken eyes that were almost black. As a child her frame was her advantage. It was easier to run and climb trees, she was quick and agile and could keep up with the boys in her village. Although she tried to fight the feeling, now as a young woman, she felt inadequate, incomplete.
Arriving to Merolas she had had her fair share of attention from the local niños (boys), especially the ones in Rainbow. When they climbed trees to pick ripen nectarines, (no longer a race, she could still beat them to the top) she would glance down and catch them staring up her skirt. She noticed they hurled remarks at anyone and everyone. Old escorias (prostitutes), even mother’s with children. Sometimes she saw them flicking through Mr Avedias magazines, sniggering in suggestive slang.

She peered again at her reflection, held in the river. A leaf fell silently off an oak above it’s landing sending ripples through the liquid turquoise. Her thoughts glided to Tariq. When he looked at her, she wondered what he saw.

© 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


XII. Surrendering Skies

The silent streets begun to stir.
Noises whirled through Merolas as if a gust of wind had gathered them up from inbetween the city walls and blown it over the top of the town.
Abia stood in echoes.
The world had always been an unsafe place, but suddenly danger was too real. Uncertainty too close.
Faces appeared through make-shift windows, looking up to the sky. A small crowd had gathered at the beginning of market street, muttering and mumbling concerns.
Abia spotted Mr Avedias, the man who sold stolen glossy red apples as big as her fists from carts in the city, making his way up the ladera (hillside) in the distance.
He must be headed to Eastern Peak. To see what is happening, Abia thought.
Most of Mr Avedias fortune did not lie in the sales of stolen apples. ‘He is contrabandista‘ (smuggler) Tariq had told her.
Every Thursday he would arrive with seven types of tea, freshly pressed newspapers, tobacco, and always drogas (drugs). Occasionally he had copies of the newest films. Abia did not know anybody with a TV to watch them but she liked to look at the pictures printed on the plastic cases and let her mind unravel the story inside.
Traves de la frontera invisible‘ (from across the invisible boarder).
She had listened to Mr Avedias tell stories of how he was close to being caught, so close to losing a finger, or a hand. But still he traveled into the city, still he stole and still he smuggled. Abia had concluded that he did not care much for his life. In the middle of the city’s chaos, she concluded that he was more concerned with his livelihood than any impeding danger.

She too wanted to see what was happening.
The smoke in thick shades of slate smothered the surrendering skies. A circling threat. A prophecy of what was to come.
Concern for her family bubbled inside her, anxieties clung in her mind.
A few blocks northerly they would surely be unaware of all the commotion.
The city stood to her West, The highest Peak with all it’s sight called her from the East.
Abia did not know which way to turn.

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