And To Think That Only Yesterday

And To Think That Only Yesterday

By James Tipton


faros-cigarrosIt was common in recent years for Enedina de Los Angeles to doze off sitting up. Sometimes it happened in the plaza in Magdalena, as she sat near the bones of Father Kino. Sometimes it happened in the Church of San Francisco, where God fell through the high window, making patterns on her ancient face. Sometimes it happened in the stable, as she watched her son grooming the dark horses, and where as she was falling asleep, she often heard other horses far away, snorting, like they were clearing their noses.

Wherever she was, almost always, while sleeping lightly, Enedina would wander through old memories. She would once again see her mother’s old black shoes, waiting by the door or her father’s pack of Farolitos, leaning against a bottle of El Jimador; or she would remember her First Communion, over seventy years ago, the day she had been the most beautiful girl in the world.

But today, when Enedina woke, she was sitting on a long bench that barely looked familiar. She saw her traveling bag at her feet and as her head jerked up she saw she was just outside the ruins of a large adobe house. She was covered with dust as if she had been on a long journey.

Already night was beginning to fall, and the sky was very close. But Enedina felt she could hold it back a few more minutes by reaching up and pressing her palms against it.

“Where are you?” she called out, hoping Rafael, her husband, would come running to her. That was something to laugh about, she thought, since Rafael had died twenty years earlier, stretched out on the dirt floor of their simple home, while almost crushing her hands in his bony fingers.

She should, Enedina thought, be more worried than she was. She shook the dust off her faded bag and reached in. The tamales were still warm. She had forgotten she packed them. She would have a good story to tell when she got back to town.

But while she was eating, she had also forgotten about the night and by now it had dropped down to her shoulders. It took all of her strength to place her palms firmly to lift the sky back up, but she needed to do this so that she could think clearly about what had happened.

Then Enedina began to hear the distant bell. The sound got closer and closer, until it was almost inside of her. In the little light remaining she clutched her chest and looked up at that house in ruins. It reminded her of the chapel she had loved when she was a child.

Enedina got up. She realized the sky had now fallen around her knees. She waded through the cool sky to the door. She could hear familiar voices inside. Her father and mother. Talking about their little girl.

She would surprise them, all right. They had never seen her so grown up. And to think that only yesterday the doctors in the government hospital in Hermosillo told Enedina de Los Angeles that she was dying.




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