The sun was blinding in its brilliance, reflecting off the hard-packed earth in waves. She glanced down and away, blinking the moisture from her eyes. When her vision cleared, when she was again able to discern the shape and color of the pebbles underfoot she lifted her eyes once more to the barren landscape.
It stretched before her, a broad canvas splashed in shades of brown and black and gray. Not at all like…
Drawing a deep breath she resettled her shawl about her shoulders, stopping the thought before it could be fully born.
A breeze kicked up, welcome despite the dry warmth of it. Her skirt billowed permitting a glimpse of ivory petticoats, their hems repeatedly turned and mended. She closed her eyes, savoring the feel of the wind on her face. A glossy curl, teased from the loose braid hanging down her back, caressed her cheek until a slender finger secured it behind her left ear.
The shawl slipped off her right shoulder, the cream colored silk collecting in the crook of her arm. She drew it back into place, mindful of the sun. Her hand lingered, fingertips tracing the delicate embroidery.
This time the memory took root, refusing to be dismissed. A giant of a man, eyes bright in anticipation, handing her a paper-wrapped bundle. A length of silk, cool to the touch, spilling across her vastly pregnant belly. The look of quiet pleasure on his face as he leaned down for her kiss, one hand braced on the arm of the sofa, the other, large and calloused and surprisingly gentle, dropping to almost reverently touch her belly and the child secreted within.
The room faded followed by the man and lastly the woman. But the ghost, she lingered; an echo of what should have been but never had the chance to be.
Dry-eyed, she stared into the glare of the unrelenting sun.
Again, the overwhelming need to get away consumed her.
Now as then she felt as if she were drowning.
The need naked in their eyes…
She caught a feathered tuft of floss between thumb and forefinger. Other fingers, smaller and endlessly inquisitive, had plucked at the colorful threads no doubt imagining the leaves and petals to be real.
Perhaps she should sell it. They would need the money. The shack was claustrophobic in its closeness, too small for even two much less three people. And the Niño; always hungry and now outgrowing his clothes at an alarming rate.
Not that it had been easy, that other decision but there could have been no other.
Now as then there would be no turning back, no forgiveness.
But this time she would not be seeing him every time she looked into her son’s eyes.
This time there would be no reminder.