I was trying to wake up, but I kept dreaming of green fields in the sunlight below mountains, of rivers overflowing feeding oak trees and the willows. Cold air in the autumn. Mari was there dancing in the field, and Fernando was planting pine tree seedlings.
A few minutes later brushing my teeth brought me to my senses, while Mari was singing in Spanish, in the shower. Once she was done, she snuck up behind me, barely covered in a towel… as I watched her hands in the mirror reach for my belly. “I know a reason you and I are together”, she whispered.
“Don’t do it!” I said loudly. Too late. “It’s because we both have bellies!!” And she shook my tummy, laughing her head off, running away. I rinsed quickly, about to chase her, but when I looked up she was sitting on the edge of the bed, towel discarded, her jet black hair still dripping wet and falling over her shoulders, as she questioned me with her smile.
We never did make it down for breakfast. But by lunch time I had placed some grilled cheese sandwiches in a pan. I was slow cooking them so the cheese would melt. Fernando was at the table reading a book on sweetgrass, so I asked him if he wanted a grilled cheese. “No I’m making burgers in the basement.” “The basement?” I wondered if Mari knew.
Mari came down adding an explanation. “Fernando has his own kitchen downstairs…. actually two, one for food and one for plant science.” She added, “his burgers are plant based…” Eyeing my work she said, “Oh yum! Grilled cheese with cheddar. I’ll make the salad! By the way we have 4 levels of basement” “What??”
When we sat down to eat, “Mari said, “Hold out your arm honey”. I did but wondering why. She quickly held out hers. “Look”, she said “We are both brown…so that’s the real reason I think Emma placed us together. She knew I couldn’t tolerate a white man’s—” “Ok, ok I get it!” I cut her off. “I get that… but listen, white people are not our enemy”.
Mari looked shocked. I continued by reaching over, touching her with one finger where I thought her heart was. “The problem is in here, not their skin color.” She said nothing but seemed to let something go. Then she said smiling, “I knew you were good for me… in more ways than one….” I felt her foot on my leg.
Mari’s phone began buzzing. She took it out, stood up immediately yelling, “Fernando!! Start the healing bath…. Make it on the 3rd floor and hurry! Emma’s hurt!!
She yelled at me to get the emergency blanket, as I looked out the window, I saw Emma flying in. All I could say was, “Oh no!!”
When we opened the front door, Emma was on fire.
“Oh dear God.”
Writing and Image © Copyright 2022 rivers renewed
Next Saturday: Does Emma survive her injuries? And what is the name of the main character/narrator? And do the dreams mean anything?