It´s Three Word Wednesday. The words: abstain, halo, prayer.
I´m not playing it safe this week, using expressions, words, prepositions etc where they might not fit very well... Anyhow, it´s a good thing, I´m out of my comfort zone =) It might have messed with the fluency of the text, though, as things might come off as awkward or plain weird. If so: I´m sorry, and please tell me where I´ve got it wrong so that I might learn!
I leave in the morning smog, my trolley loaded with raffle. I sell at the big market Wednesdays and Saturdays, and at the smaller one nearby on the other days. Sometimes, if it´s busy, I get to help out with the vegetables and then maybe I can take some home with me.
When I come home my sisters and brothers are playing on the dump. Someone told me it said in the newspaper that kids shouldn´t be on the dump because the junk might be toxic, radioactive even, but where would they go? This is where we live and anyway, they need to collect my raffle.
I sweep our shack and go to get some water, when the kids return I have the porridge ready. Afterwards we do the dishes and I make them wash themselves and clean their teeth, I will nag about this because we´re not bad people, mamá used to say.
They say their prayers and go to bed and I sing to them as I do the final tidying for the night. It´s nice, peaceful, and I listen to their breathing slow down as I put the cloth on our box table. It´s a pretty piece of cloth, purple with red stripes. I was lucky to find it, almost untarnished and brightly coloured, I try to keep it clean. María picks those yellow flowers that grow all over the dump and I keep them in a glass on the table. The yellow goes well together with the purple, I think.
Before it gets really dark I step outside and go through the raffle they brought home. I make two piles, and then I put the useful stuff in the trolley, the other pile goes back to the dump. As the kids grow, they get better at finding good stuff, but they still drag home lots of fancy, worthless junk. María´ll take anything that glitters and Miguel likes big things with shiny surfaces. But, as I said, they get better, they have to, the competition for things easy to sell is tough on the dump.
When I think I´m finished, and it´s too dark to see anyway, something weird catches my eye. It´s very small and I could easily have missed it, but it´s pulsating with a dim light and I freeze, suddenly spooked.
I take some deep breaths to calm down and I tell myself I´m being stupid, but when I reach out to touch it, it moves! Sweet Jesus, my poor heart skips a beat and in an instant I´m all covered in goose-bumps.
But then I hear the rattling sound as it moves over the concrete surface and I recognize the step of the cucaracha. I deftly catch it, no cucaracha is too fast for me, and then I get to examine it closer. It looks like an ordinary one, hard and oval and dark brown, only it´s surrounded by this light, a green halo that glows softly around it. It´s surreal, supernatural and I can´t stop watching it, this beautiful creature caught in my hand. I find myself hoping it´s a magical sign from mamá.
I keep it in a matchbox beside my bed and I sleep like a baby, feeling so safe.
When I come home the next day it´s dead. The kids played with it and the taste in my mouth is bitter when I touch its broken body, the halo still intact, but I abstain from punishing them, what good would it do?
María´s been playing with it the entire day, making a house for it in the box, with tiny furniture made of paper and pebbles and pieces of glass and metal. I let her keep it.
Darling María, she´s getting so pale, I must try to get some vegetables soon.