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Desert Child Runs Free
i sit in class, among a throng of chattering mouths; motor boating along at uneven intervals. the cold of the morning rain has been chiseled into my bones by the heart-broken wind singing around the tall turrets of the school. i stare at my stiff fingers; moving each individually against the blue plague spread beneath my skin. pain festers and breeds around my right wrist. red blood flowing into the swelling flesh; my heart beat beginning to pulse through the mass of congealed muscle. the spattering of bruises across my face feel damp, like patches of mud in a drowned corn field. their purple shapes are barely discernible on my dark skin. none of the mouths turn their words to me and my swollen lip. no one wants to feel responsible for me today. i will remain unrecognised. the chapel bell rings signaling the students to dismiss to lecture period. i do not move as the expensive coats and dazzling watches file past me. their mouths still running until the last second as their designer shoes descend the short set of steps outside the door way and fall silent in the corridor. He is in my lecture class. American Literature. i open the textbook, breathing the new smell of pressed ink and tight binding, and being to notate and annotate the the assigned chapter. i worked all three months of summer to afford this book. the writing captivates me. Robert Frost's poems whisper from the pages of the lesson. "Whose woods these are I think I know/ His house is in the village though" whose eyes these are I thought I knew/ but her sight is slowly frozen, blue. silence wraps around me like the night; swallowing my thoughts and I am left with only a scrap of The Moody Blues. "Cold-hearted orb/ rules the night/ removes the colour from our sight/ red is grey/ and yellow white/ but we decided which is right/ and which, is an illusion." weariness intoxicates my body, and I slump to sleep; my face nestled in the crook of my arm.
dreams twist and bend behind my eyes. glass figures dancing to the Blue Danube; their drastically thin bodies so light and fragile. words surface, spilling from their mouths in an ethereal cadence:
"her face was heart shaped under her hair her heart was face shaped but no one could hear the screams from her soul so small; far away in her eyes the outline of a saviour awaits
when she eats all the food remains on her plate when she sleeps her bed spread, unwrinkled, lies straight when she brushes her teeth with a squik and a sigh the bristled brush in her fingers remains stiff and dry
as she walks she leaves footprints so clear and unreal which everyone sees but can't understand she makes no noise but the rustle of clothes but no one can tell if she wears these or those
her heart was face shaped under her hair her face was heart shaped but was she really there?"
a bell chimes. again. and yet again. and suddenly i am awake, shivering.
an angel fish the size of both my palms drifts lazily before me. his gold and black stripes ripple beneath the water; the nearly nonexistent white bars in between appearing like axis in the organic movement. he is waiting. i too am waiting. my eyes follow the fish back and forth across the small tank, rhythmically blinking as he flips and turns, as supple as willow branches in the wind. i wonder, abruptly, what he will think of my physical damage. will he be like the angel fish, blind to everything but my presence? or will his own eyes widen in surprise and disbelief; words of outrage tumbling from his lips, knocking against the back of his teeth? only time will tell. and maybe she won't even know. he is five minutes late. a rare occurrence. i being to mentally panic, wrapping my arms around myself. i think of Kimya Dawson: "if I am a spinster for the rest of my life/ my arms will keep me warm on cold and lonely nights..." if i am abandoned night after night/ my fish will keep me whole and save my life. the angel fish whips around and darts to the top of the tank; towards the sky, the dry air. towards death. and life. dry food lands on the skin of the tank, sinking slowly into the chilly depths. to be devoured by the fifty impatient small, verterbrael species swimming below.
a gentle hand lands on my shoulder, quickly turning me, and kissing my lips with a soft, deliberate push. when i pull away he gazes sadly at the marks on my face, brushing his thumb across my cheek bone and smoothing my ruffled eyebrows. i hug him desperately.
i got up this morning.
no, no. i'll rephrase that.
my body rose from the cozy folds of my sheets this morning, leaving my mind huddled, cold, without its warmth.
the bruises darkened overnight. they are now black flowers on my brown skin. blooming with each wave of incandescent pain.
the scratches across my back opened up in the night, screaming blood.
my sheets are white.
i loaded all of my laundry into the washing machine. stoic.
i stood, in nothing, waiting for the spin cycle. the rinse cycle. the buzzer.
wrapping a blanket around my shivering body i hung my clothes off of the balcony in the light of the surfacing sun. the warm rays dance over the crystallized water in the terracotta birdbath, bathing the stucco walls in a myriad of pinks and golds.
"the whole sky was in my eyes and it was blue and gold." sarte.
abuela was in the kitchen, when i returned, wearing her blue mountain shawl.
the tan wrinkles of her mouth creased softly, 'he called'.
she creaked in her chair, sipping a mug of tea.
i nodded again.
a minute later i climbed into a steaming shower, the water turning a blood brown, and fading to the faintest, rose pink.
now i am in my father's car. a blue '67 Chevrolet.
his white stripes gleam in the slanting sun, the black tires singing on the pavement as i race into the empty desert.
my hair is clean and straight, flying behind me like the black cape of a night-bird, leaving my shining brown eyes glaring, like shiny copper discs, at the dust rising in a faithful cloud before me.
yesterday was the last day.
and grandfather would be so proud.
his house is five miles down the road still, and i have to pick up the boy.
the road burns across my face, tiny grains of sand stripping away layers of skin; erasing the blemishes of racist hate. smoothing my cut flesh away to only the proud cheek bones that people always look for. brutally bare. beautifully honest.
i see him now, the boy, sitting with his back to his guitar case; shielded from the whipping wind. he is glorious in the sepia lighting. soft blonde hair and blue eyes. all gentleness.
the Chevy roars up beside him, stopping a few meters down the track, and he looks up under the shade of his palm. a slow smile twists the corners of his mouth upward, just as his body seems to slide off the dirt, swinging into the car and tossing his guitar onto the back seat in one seamless motion.
he kisses my nose.
grandfather's laugh echoes out the window and onto the lawn where we stand with the dogs, Raser, Dogma, and Cico, chasing eachother around our ankles.
we mount the steps, but do not enter the house. instead the boy and i sit, comfortably, on the rickety wooden stairs and speak up through the air to my father's father. his shaman voice falls down through the currents like the feathers of a raven, each phrase glossy and tinted with the rainbow.
suddenly grandfather disappears from his window, the rhythmic hum of his wheels scooting around the hardwood flooring. and then feathers are raining from the sky.
an aquamarine teardrop flashes in the noon's eyes and lands in the boys hands.
a silver ring with a gracefully running horse etched into the side.
a silver ring with a topaz feather weaved around its belly.
and then a shawl, painted with the colors of the wind, black fringe falling over the boy's face like the shaggy hair of a mountain pony.
three laughs, all intertwined like the veins of a tree child, bounce and play in the scorching sun; rippling the conscious of the world.
i bring the boy home with me for the last time.
the day after tomorrow he will no longer be 'the boy'.
he will be the man.
and my heart will sing when he holds my hand.
i will wake up tomorrow morning and go to work.
for the first time i will make my money, not from beads and sand shakers, but from my fingers wrapped around a pen; my fingers tip-tapping like horses hooves in a dry stable, tip-tapping at a typewriter; my brown eyes watching the words appear as if by some magic of the sand.
and when i come home the boy will be waiting, with his sad guitar.
but he will really be there, and we will listen to the radio.
sitting on the back porch, gazing into the west, we realise that we can not stay for long.
some people are meant to be going, grandfather had said as the last of the feathers drifted onto our heads.
and the sea is calling.
the blue in his eyes, and the blue in my blood.
the salt winds, and shining fish.
which wind god said the prophet's granddaughter would marry the white fish?
the sun brings an aura to today's outline.
tying yesterday, today, and tomorrow tightly together with buffalo laces.
in years, i will forget the pain of indifference.
i will forget the feeling of clasping hands, and brushing shoulders.
but i will never forget the sun's golden fingers tracing the outlines of my world.
her golden fingers tracing his outline against the darkening sky.
i walk to the sun.