A connection to you

Between the walls that separated us there were clues, deeply buried, that I tried, in vain, to latch on to – to derive a hint of you, a connection to you.

I lived a parallel life; breathing the same air as you, stepping into the space where your foot had just graced the pavement. I synced my walk to yours; hurried my legs to keep up to your pace – to melt into your rhythm.

You once were the window to a tower where I could safely hide from Mami’s blows and other dangers. As you heard the scuttling of my running feet on the linoleum floor, you scooted over on the bed and pulled the covers up so I could dive underneath and hide. You would pat my head when it was safe to peek out and would offer me a matching lollipop as we lay there; you reading a western, and I trying to decipher the words on paper that captivated you so much.

As I got older, I did not run from the blows but stood there silently as my skin swelled, tears running down my cheeks; all I could hear was the dry rustling sound as you turned the page.

“No llores”, “No digas nada”, “No preguntes”, “Callate”! These phrases were repeated to me so many times that I became withdrawn; learned to stay quiet, to shut my eyes and let my mind wander.

Years passed and our only communication was a nod of the head; an emotionless acknowledgement of common existence. By then I grew curious of this man who could be so frightening when swept up with alcoholic rage and yet who could show aspects of the father I missed when I would come home and see you sitting calmly reading a book. The tugging inside my chest would only subside when I would run inside and find the book that opened up the fantasy world in which we both escaped to – 100 Años
de Soledad.

The residents of the fictional city of Macondo became our extended families; aunts who feared a child with an animal’s tail, men who joined their own revolution only to fail at everything including ending their own pitiful life, and a house who always grew – an endless expansion of rooms and hallways whose eccentricities was only rivaled by its own inhabitants.

Every time you said, “No seas de Macondo!”, my eyes would light up at the mention of the place we both knew.

I read and re-read these pages and looked for you. As I walked through the town, you were there next to me, holding my hand like you used to – being my hero like you used to.

But as I grew into a young woman and the heaviness of all my heartache threatened to collapse my frail mental state, even that book was not enough. I could no longer hear the echo of you as I shut my eyes and pressed my ear against that wall – the translucent wall that refused to come down. “One hundred years of solitude”, what an ironic title to bring us closer – one that made the shattering of our, of my, imagined connection to you feel jarringly clear.

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