I burned your name in blue fire and released it to the wind. The wind twirled it around the lemon trees in the yard, swirled it around the bougainvillea draped over the brick fence and carefully carried it out. I watched as your name drifted gently down the dirt road towards the village, knowing that when the wind reached you, you would hear my voice in it, and then you’d come back to me.
Late that afternoon I sat alone on the wicker swing, sipping wine and watching the hummingbirds drain nectar from the bleeding heart flowers along the front porch. Your father and I used to do that. We used to sit together, swinging quietly and holding hands. You would play at our feet, kick your ball around the porch, run around the yard picking flowers and tangling them in my hair.
“You’re so pretty, mommy,” you would say, and I would pull you to me and wrap my arms around your little, giggling body.
When the doctor told us why you were losing so much weight, I slapped him, letting my nails scrape his shaved skin. I yelled and shoved your father as he restrained me, as words that I will never repeat again, words of disease and despair, invaded my life. You were five, a boy full of smiles and cuddles and sweet innocence.
I stood on the porch for hours after you left, until the moon shone above me and the chill of the night infiltrated my skin and dug into my bones. Your father moved out the following week.
I gave the wind three days to find you. The wind is fast, and by then, I knew it had taken my voice to you. I showered, brushed my teeth, got in the car. I drove down the dirt path of our house, turned right when I reached the paved road, and made my way into town. I pulled into a parking lot and stepped into our favorite café, the one where the three of us liked to eat brunch sometimes. I was smiling.
Then I saw your name, resting gently on the hanging violet bush in the café’s terrace. I sipped my coffee, took a small bite of the sandwich I had ordered. Glancing up, I saw your name again, at the corner, floating playfully over the dangling traffic light. It was twirling gently in the breeze down the street, and it was trapped underneath the windshield wipers of a car.
I saw, then, the wind’s betrayal. It had taken your name up the mountain and down the valley, up the river and down to the sea. It had taken your name and thinned it down so that you would never hear it, never hear my voice calling you back to me, sprinkling it everywhere so that it would be there for me to see every time I looked. I left without finishing my food and a tight, throbbing knot in my throat.
I fled to the deceitful safety of the house that was no longer ours but belonged only to me. And when I opened the door I saw your shoes, still placed carefully at the entrance, waiting for you to put them on to go run through the yard. I saw your ball, sitting in the hallway, waiting for you to pick it up and kick it around. I went to your room and saw your bed, the sheets still holding the shape of your body. I saw the photographs of us, saw how you had had my chin and my eyes, your father’s forehead and his lips. In the half-open door of the closet I saw all the clothes we had bought you last Christmas, the ones you were meant to wear but never did. And in the left corner of the window, floating gently, was another piece of your name.
I lost the bit of food I had eaten. I gulped air but couldn’t breathe. I stumbled to your bed and crawled under the sheets, goosebumps on my back, my ears ringing, my body trembling violently. And now, two days later, I don’t think I will ever rise again.
M. P. Rossi, engineer by day, was born and raised in Costa Rica. After years of living in beautiful Philadelphia she currently resides in Portland, OR, where she seems to have adjusted to the dreary rain.