|Having Fun (1)|
This piece is a humble attempt in writing a fiction-based short story in the first person. It is about a young girl, Isabel and her sister Susana, that I have had the privilege of knowing a better part of my life. Primarily, focusing on an event, during childhood, that has tied us all together for a lifetime.
Isabel and I
Today is the day of her death; however she doesn’t know it, yet I do. Her name is Isabel and some would look upon her and say, she is, gentle, striking and clever, but I just look at her and know that she is an ordinary person in every way except for one aspect and that is in my knowledge as to when she will die. You’re thinking, like oh really! No one knows this fact unless of course they are going to take their life or in this case by design; however if you are going to keep an open your mind I will share her story and then you can tell me, at the end, on what you think.
First let’s talk about how I met Isabel and then I will share a little background on who “she” is. I remember we first met when she was a young girl; maybe six or seven years old. Still a child in all respects living in that God awful place. Skinny, tall for her age, with brown shiny eyes and long auburn hair, she was so fanciful, innocent, and full of energetic spirit. Her sister Susana, one year and a couple months younger was always by her side. Now, Susana was the absolute opposite of Isabel, in all aspects, personality and physically. She had a small frame, beautiful long blond hair but lacked that charisma that bathed glowingly from Isabel. I took too to them both immediately and we became inseparable friends.
I was a few years older than Isabel and developed the closest relationship with her. As, I look back and think about these two little girls, from time to time, I wonder how they made it through that perilous environment. With no electricity, running water and pretty much you had to boil or burn everything to avoid dysentery. During this period, her little cousin had just died on a family visit; he was not more than one or two years old. The whole family was distraught over this occurrence. It was during the rainy season, dirt roads, dug out through mountain passes were hours from civilization and/or a hospital and were virtually impassable. This drive would always frighten Isabel! Mosquitos, in such abundance, you would have to brush them off every minute or two akin to accidentally standing on an ant pile and suddenly realizing your mistake when you’re covered with venomous tiny creatures eating you alive. They were the source of all the misery, death and nasty illnesses, like malaria, that hung around as a dark and foreboding spring time cloud. The place reminded me of an abandoned homestead in the middle of Louisiana’s swamp lands with all of its culture, creatures and reptiles in tow. I was from the U.S. and our families visited quite often during this time.
The facts are there; to Isabel it was paradise and she lived a little girl’s carefree dream. There were the huge thousand year old Selva trees she climbed, the banana plant trees of every kind, mango trees with ripe fruit in arms reach, row after row of Valencia orange trees as far as the eye could see. A green sea speckled in orange during harvest time. At the beginning of spring, you could smell honey suckle and jasmine, thick in the air. It would even tickle your nose and cause a sneeze, it was so delicious. To this day it is her favorite perfume aroma. Yes, it was a stunning place, deep in the mountains, a tropical valley nestled between two major tributaries. I guess if I were to look at it through her eyes, I can see its beauty and the gentleness it brought into her life.
Both girls were homeschooled, for two to three hours with mom every morning and after that it was out the door, running, playing, horseback riding and living all those little fantasies that roamed in their heads. They shared little secret places with me and Isabel even shared a fantasy or two. One that sticks in my mind was her desire to be a horse, can you imagine that! Not an ordinary horse but one she saw in the books, her mom taught her with, golden with a white mane. A mighty stallion, which from today’s prospective, I believe are from the Palomino breed. She told me she would always be the stallion, because he was in charge and could gallop the fastest. I kind of quietly chucked at her imagination then and have a soft smile about it now.
It was not long after, her cousin had passed, a few weeks at best, still the middle of a rainy season, Isabel, her younger sister and I, all bunking in the same room, went through an event that when I look back on it, even today, I realize that it must have affected her deeply and suspect that maybe even changed the course of her perception towards life. I am not sure, just a theory. I can see it all now like a film showing clip after clip running faster and faster until the sequence of events are all tied together in a movie presentation. It never seems to leave my memory, remembering that is, in vivid detail.
Susana, the younger sister had become deathly ill during this time, polio I believe. She would wake us up, in the middle of night, screaming about ants crawling all over her. It seemed like this went on for weeks. The despair it caused Isabel was unspeakable. They were like peas in a pod those two beautiful little girls lost in this forbidden place. Anyway, one of those preceding nights, Isabel woke us up screaming. She wouldn’t stop screaming until dad came in to hug her tight, we all tried to comfort her, except her sister, who was at the brink of death’s door. All this effort to no avail, after an hour or so, she seemed to finally calm down and her parents left. I asked her what had happened she told me that a man woke her up. He had no face and told her, explicitly; pointing his finger at her “You will die on your fortieth birthday”. She said that he ran out the window. At that moment, I remember thinking to myself “the building was two stories high” her words did not compute, mind you! The incident scared her so much that she peed in her bed. Poor baby, I remember making her bed with fresh sheets, lying towels to cover the wet spot and snuggling next to her that night holding her tight. Before you know it we were both asleep.
Isabel was lost and withdrawn for days after that night and quit sharing her secrets with me. My parents never went back for another visit and we lost touch for many years. Recently, by chance we reconnected again, after all these years, such joy to see my old friend. She had grown into a beautiful middle aged woman; however I could still see that little girl I loved, so dearly as a child. She was different but the same. Just an observation, she appeared a bit reticent but alive more than I remember those last days, long ago. She did tell me that her little sister had eventually pulled through, crippled but alive and that she lived until her fortieth birthday. Imagine that! It seems that the morning of her birthday, after eating oatmeal she passed out and the food regurgitated into her wind pipe. They tried to revive her and she lived fifteen days on a ventilator, basically brain dead. She died as a result of asphyxiation.
The part of the story, I didn’t share was that on that night, long ago, the hood man visited me as well and he pointed his finger saying “You will die on your fiftieth fifth birthday”. Today is Isabel’s fiftieth fifth birthday.
(c) Copywrite 2014 Diana Mary Sharpton
1.) Photography: Having Fun. http://ouryuppielife.blogspot.com/2012/04/entoto.html