Posted on May 18, 2015May 18, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair5.18.2015 Journal Prompt Image from Suite Habana May 18, 2015: This was before. Like this:Like Loading... Related
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Papi has a smile as big as the crescent moon laid on its back, and his teeth as white as stars, and his eyes is blue like they was cut out of the day-bright sky. I swear it. He does. Like something out of a magazine or The Bible – like Father Tremain’s Bible which has pictures in colour and them colours like no colours in all the world they is so bright. And there is a picture of the Holy Mother on her knees before the cross and she is wearing a blue cloth about her head – and that is near to the blue of papi’s eyes.
Matías says I am seeing dreams in my head. He says maybe I have been smoking macoña and he holds up four fingers and asks me how many. When I tell him four he says he has only held up three and so he is right. And he says I shall be as mad as Santino one day; Santino who sits on his heels outside the store at the end of our street and he smells of piss even when you are not close to him, and he is old as history books, with only one tooth in his head so all his words are spittle soft and chopped and hissing, and they say he sees angels in the breathless air.
I don’t listen to what Matías says. He does not know. How could he? He was not there when papi was there. He was to the school then and papi was only there for a day, only there for the middle of that day. Mami knows. She was there. I could ask her to make what I say true. I could ask her to tell Matías and then he would have to believe what I say. But I do not call on mami to be my witness before God – and there is a reason for that.
That day, that lizard-panting-on-the-wall day, that water-melon day when papi came to see me, mami was cross with him right from the start. She said he should have sent word ahead that he was coming and she would have made herself pretty for papi then, instead of her arms up to the elbows in dirty water and her hair all anyhow and her dress not her Sunday dress. And papi said she was pretty as any angel Santino ever saw.
Papi was all kissing and touching and mami sent me to the store for sausage and corn and chicha. I could hear them when I came back carrying the things mami wanted in a brown paper bag. They was making the sound of horses after a gallop and mami was calling on Papi, calling his name which is Thiago, calling for him like he wasn’t there with her in the bedroom. I was fearful for a moment – afraid I had only imagined him.
Then the house was quite again, and breathless, and papi came out and sat with me at the table. He drank some chicha from the bottle and ate some cold sausage and he told me stories of when I was born and what it was like to hold me in his arms, small as a bread loaf and warm from the oven. And that’s when I noticed his eyes and his teeth and his smile.
Mami was crying when papi did not say, crying tears hot as nettle stings. She called him bastard and she punched his arm and spat at his feet, cross as a shook bag of cats. And that is why I cannot ask her about papi’s eyes and his teeth and his smile, not even though it would shut Matías up once and for all. And so I let Matías mock me and make of me a smaller Santino and he thinks I see angels at my table, an angel with a moon for a face, and I let him think that – for mami’s sake.