All was calm during the cool winter night. Light snow gently pitter-pattered against the windows. A slight breeze softly drifted through the sycamore trees. The light of the bright, full moon kissed the cheek of little Brooklyn as she slept peacefully in her princess bed. Sleep was not easy to come by these days, so with all of the peace and quiet, she drifted into a deep slumber in no time. Sleep did not last long as Brooklyn was suddenly awakened by a loud, metallic CRASH! She jerks upright in her bed, shook by the jarringness of the sound, but already aware of what is happening. Her parents are having yet another fight.
Brooklyn grabs her blanket and pillow, and crawls into the closet. Although the rough carpet on the floor was itchy and uncomfortable, it was much quieter. She shuts the heavy door, muffling the sound of her parents throwing dishes and words of hatred at each other. They fell out of love many months ago, and spend just about every day and night blaming each other for it. Brooklyn had gotten used to the daily chaos, but that doesn’t stop her heart from yearning for a family not yet fractured by time. She lies there reminiscing about the good ol’ days— a time when life was vibrant. Her parents would slow dance in the kitchen while preparing dinner, and she would try to mimic their moves with the giant teddy bear they gifted her for her fifth birthday. They would look at each other so deeply, it almost seemed as if they were looking into each other, past the eyes and into the soul. Dinner was eaten together as a family. They’d talk, laugh, vent, sometimes all in one sitting. Vacations were the best, feeling the heat of the sun on their backs while playing in the ocean during the summers, or the chill of the frigid wind on their necks while riding the ski lifts during the winters. There was a time when the household was full of warmth and color. Now, it’s just cold and gray.
The screaming and crashing fades out as Brooklyn slowly drifts off to sleep. She hopes to dream happier times, but dreams of nothing instead. That’s how most nights work out. All too soon, she is again awakened, but this time by her alarm. 7:00 am. School starts in an hour. Brooklyn drags herself to her feet and out of the closet, still exhausted from the night before. She looks forward to school in spite of her lack of energy. It’s the only time she can smile and laugh. It’s the only time she feels seen. Her teachers praise her for being well behaved and her advanced performance in the classroom. Her friends love her kindness and bubbly spirit. School is where Brooklyn can see the vibrant colors that once made up her world, again.
After her usual morning routine, Brooklyn goes to the kitchen to see if there is a chance of something being available for breakfast. As expected, the only thing available was disappointment. Her mother sat in a chair, sipping coffee, staring into space. She looked horrible, with her in a frizzy bun and her eyes puffy from countless tears. She jumped when she noticed Brooklyn standing in the doorway, all ready for school.
“Oh, hey baby. Is it time for school, already? I was going to get you up, but I… lost track of time…”
“I’m hungry, mom,” Brooklyn says softly, trying not to stare.
“Right, breakfast.” Mom gets up and frantically scavenges the kitchen. “Umm. I don’t… We… I haven’t bought groceries yet. Try to grab something at school. For now, here, have some orange juice. I’ll go put on some clothes and take you to school.” She grabs a glass from the cupboard and pours a small amount of orange juice, sighing as she throws the empty carton away.
Brooklyn picks up the glass and finishes the juice in almost one gulp. Her stomach makes a low growling sound. She clenches her eyes shut, holding back tears of frustration. One more sip, she thinks to herself. All I want is one more sip. Her hands get hot grip around the glass tightens. She wishes long and hard for one more sip. For a hot, home cooked meal. For a bear hug from her father. For a bedtime story from her mother. For her old family back. But even at eight years old, she already knew the dangers of wishful thinking. Her grip loosens as the moment passes. With a deep breath, her eyes open. When she looks down, the glass is nearly full.
What… Brooklyn looks around, but no one is there. How… Did I do this? There is no way she did this, right? She knows better than to believe in magic. That’s something that only exists in comic books. If magic was real, the world would be a much more enjoyable place. But, how else could this have happened? Brooklyn stares at the juice in disbelief, not sure whether it’s okay to drink it or not. When she hears her mother returning to the kitchen, though, she chugs the juice as fast as she can. This matter, she decides, is a private one for the time being.
“Alright, hon, you ready to go?” her mother asks.
“Yes,” Brooklyn responds quickly. She puts the glass in the sink, and heads to the car.
To my dearest Anku,
The end of the capacocha procession has come. Come daylight, my entourage and I will begin our final trek up the mountain. With every step, I will think of you. I will pray for you. I don’t wish for you to mourn me, for my sacrifice is meant to be an honor. I want you to find another that can give you something close to what we had. Find love, again. Start a family. Live a long, happy, and healthy life. Remember me, always. I do believe we will meet again in the distant future. Two souls that were made for each other cannot truly be apart. They always find their way back to each other.
You have brought me eternal happiness. There so much you have to offer the world. I will be watching from high above. Think of my smile when you look to the stars, as they align for you. Think of the blood that rushed through my veins as you sail down the surging river. When you look to the sun, know that it rises and sets on you. For you have my heart, my love. Until its final beat, and beyond.