My head pounds at me relentlessly as my eyes open. I am weak, exhausted. Unable to even push myself up. But the paved ground beneath me exudes a heat so strong, I somehow find the strength to jump to my feet so as to save my elbows from burning. I turn my head only to see several men in army suits standing by a large wall. No, it’s more of a fence. Where am I?
I realize that I am hungover. How much could I have possibly drunk last night to end up in this horrible state? My chestnut hair is mussed, the band barely holding my bun together. Wisps of hair surround my cheeks, so clumsy that I know that I am nowhere close to decent. My eyes feel droopy, which I am sure doesn’t help my appearance. My clothes are, however, the closest thing to presentable about me. I’m wearing a fancy lime blouse that is modest, and black leggings that reach my ankles. At least I have this.
I approach one of the guards, trying to straighten up my hair that has only worsened in this humidity, opening my mouth to question my whereabouts.
“Hello, do you know what place this is?
”No comprendo, Señorita.” So he speaks Spanish. Where am I, in Mexico?
He calls another person, who jogs towards us briskly.
“I am so sorry, ma’am. He is our newest guard, and is not aware of much English.” Even this man’s English is heavily accented.
“What can I do for you? Why are you here at this border?” His tone suddenly changes. It’s more professional, more harsh too.
“What border? What is this place?”
“Why, ma’am, you are in Mexico, of course. The other side is los Estados Unidos, but I’m afraid I cannot let you cross.” He says the x in Mexico with an h sound.
“Then where the hell am I supposed to go?” How the hell am I in Mexico? I was only drunk, for goodness sake! And now I can’t go back home?
“Do you need me to call someone, ma’am? Since you are international, you need to go through many - what do you say - processes to return if you come from the other side of this fence.”
“Damn this, I won’t be here for one more second. ” I make a move towards the fence, but the man swiftly steps in front of me. I give him a threatening look, but I probably look more sick than scary.
The other man whips out a walkie talkie, talking rapidly in Spanish. I suspect he is calling for someone to come pick me up. Probably the police.
This is so great. Since I probably drove here somehow, (if I did, how did a random car get past the fence) I’ll probably be caught for drunken driving. And crossing without a visa or passport or whatever. And another million things. Great.
Hours later, the police arrive. Clad in faded brown suits, they look scary. Or they look scared and tired. Either way, I know I won’t make it out of here anytime soon. The tallest, most muscled one gives me a one-over. His dull eyes widen immediately, and he calls at one of the others to give him a phone. How do I know? Because he said this:
“Me da el teléfono, el teléfono. Rápido!”
I think I know enough Spanish to know that he was asking for a phone. Plus, one of the guys whips out an old iPhone. It looks like a 5S. Who even uses those anymore?
He takes a look at it, his eyes fly back up to me, and back at the phone. This continues for about 20 seconds. If I wasn’t so scared that I’d be jailed, then I would have laughed at this extremely comedic action. He looked like a pendulum swinging up to down rather than left to right.
“Put up your hands, miss. You are under arrest.”
WHAT THE HELL?! My hands fly up as he points a gun at me, and gestures about 7 other people to do the same. When 8 people have their guns all pointed at you, you will do whatever they say, believe me.
“What have I done? I’m an innocent.”
“No, miss,” says the head officer, “You are under arrest for murder of the Esteemed President of Mexico.”
It happened a few months after she perished. Adeline had plunged us into a savage curse. People started dying, and a clock struck 3 times every time it happened. Nobody knew how it happened. The last 3 strikes I heard followed my mother’s shriek from downstairs. Then I heard a whoosh, and I screamed too before a dagger plunged into my stomach.
My eyes open slowly, but it feels as if someone is pushing them closed again. I don’t know where I am, but I have been put on a bed, covered by a scratchy blanket. I feel bandages tightly wrapped around me, so tight that I wonder what illness has penetrated me.
Then, everything comes back.
The red-hilted dagger.
For an unknown reason, tears rain down my face, but fall before they reach my chin. I try to push myself up, but I can’t. There is no strength in my arms. There is nobody else around me, but if I continue this feeble behavior, there is sure to be.
It feels like hours that I have lain in this bed, sobbing for no reason, until a nurse comes through the blandly colored door. She sees me awake and calls an unfamiliar name. A few nurses appear behind her. They walk towards me, and the first one I saw rushes close as soon as she spies my tears. She gently wipes them away and beckons to a dark corner. I am confused at why she gestures at a wall, but then two people I didn’t notice stride out.
They are carrying green notepads and black pens. Investigators. They waste not a moment and walk with care yet briskly in my direction. They wave at my face, the action intended for the nurse. Only when the weight rises from my face do I realize there has been something on it. She swipes it away before I can get a proper glance, though.
‘’What is your name?” The taller man’s harsh voice startles me, but I am not afraid.
‘’Saffron Marquess,” I reply, bold, but it comes out faint.
‘’Do you know why you are here?” The question arises from the slightly shorter man’s voice, which is extremely annoying.
‘’I am a victim of murder, but apparently a survivor.”
‘’Exactly. Do you have any idea of the identity of your murderer?” The tall one puts quotes with his fingers around the last word.
‘’No.” I am already irritated by these men. I am not some object that they can so tediously interrogate.
‘’Have you given someone a reason to harm you?”
‘’Yes, I have. I went up to someone and said, ‘Please kill me’,” I reply sarcastically. I have let my fury show. They look at each other as if they are the ones who should be vexed.
‘’Please answer our questions seriously, this is not a joke.”
I have been pushed to the limit.
‘’Look, I don’t remember anything about anyone that night, ok? All I am aware of is that someone tried to kill me, and I was unable to see them because it was pitch black. You are not getting anything out of me. Please stop wasting both our times.”
That should have gotten the message across. It looks like it did. They both nod at the nurses, pompously shake hands and leave, looking highly exasperated. The nurses give me a look as if I am some sort of mentally impaired patient. I glare back, defiant. They sigh.
As if on cue, the healer walks in. I know that is his profession because of what he wears. While the nurses wear blue shirts and pants, his outfit is completely green. He displays a kind smile, but there is something in his eyes I don’t recognize.
‘’Hello, Ms. Marquess. My name is Healer Cantor. Did the nurses not help you up? I’m terribly sorry. Here, allow me,” he speaks politely, his voice like silk. I let him assist me to sit up. He is so different from the investigators.
‘’So, you have been in a coma for about a week. It is quite a miracle you survived such a deep knife puncture. But then again, I suppose you are a strong young lady, aren’t you?”
I sit, frozen. I’m astounded. I have never met someone so... likable. I attempt a small smile, but in return, I receive a solemn look.
‘’Unfortunately, your mother was not so strong. By the time we had reached, your heart still beat, but hers had died.”
My tears threaten to return. My hand flies to my mouth, holding in a scream.
My mom is dead.
I can’t help it, the tears fall.
I want to yell, I want to shout myself sore.
I want to throw things, I want to hurt someone.
But I don’t.
‘’Was it the Clockworker?” I ask, and those few words use up all my energy. Healer Cantor nods, giving me a look of pity. My eyes close, unable to process this truth. He lets me fall onto the bed, glances at me as if he genuinely cares, and leaves.
I cry myself to sleep.
Regrets are a part of life. A life without them is impossible, let alone painful to live. Evading parts of life that are undesirable is a futile effort, and in the end, it’s not worth it.
Amma taught me that. She died young, with too many regrets to count. At least, that’s what she said.
My biggest regret, is that I never told her that I loved her. Granted, I was only 5 when her breaths faded, but old enough to say a few words. I wish I could have told her ”Amma, I love you.”
She told me so everyday, and she knew the feelings were mutual. But even then, that was something I wish I told her. She would have died in peace, knowing that she didn’t leave me alone and struggling.
And then my heartbeats waned too.
Now that we are both dead, I thought I would’ve gotten a chance to see her one more time. Maybe spend time with her. But it is not so. While I have graciously been granted another chance, she is nowhere to be seen. I will forget her once I am reborn, but I will spend every “waking” minute till then thinking about her.
Not that those minutes will last much longer.
This paper that I am writing upon, I hope it will be preserved for others to see. I don't want pity. I want them to know they are not alone. It is scary, leaving a whole life behind. But a new one stands before. And now, that must be my focus.
I am also hoping, with all my heart, Amma will see this someday.
I want you to know, Amma, I love you, and always will. I'm sorry I didn't tell you before.
I push myself
out of the thick seed.
It takes all my strength
but I am free.
Greener than spring grass
Fresher than morning dew
I am reborn
Rise, I hear the Sun say
Rise, my sapling.
Come with me
don't leave me in this state
I can love you,
I can, I promise
Just please, please
don't leave me like this
With no tether
with no will to live
how can I move on?
You hold me down to this
Don't let go
I beg you
My heart has already been
My eyes have already
Fix it, I plead to you
How can you leave me like this?
How can you leave me
to die inside?
I cannot live without you
Just hold on to me, please
I will give myself to you
I will love you with all my heart
Darling, till the end
A sprinkle of joy
A dab of excitement
Quite talented you are,
To me, you provide
a sense of peace
Here I am,
buried in despair
With no will to
But you, you
Give me love
Something I’ve never had
Nobody has ever
But you found a way.
You fought the storm
How can I express my gratitude?
I don’t know
how to love
I plead to you
Will you teach me?
ash worth diamonds
ha, deserved 'is fate
i bel've so
deserved to die
to be murd'd
if only they knew
who did so
but dem fools
dunnt naw their
ash from their diam'ds
they go'n worshp
put'n 'em in the holy river
some idiots even sold
pinches of 'em
high prices, too
lookin' like dem
ashes reely arr' worth