It's early morning when I open the window. The sky is grey but the sun sends a little light through the clouds and the birds chirp happily on the trees outside. The garden is small and overgrown; the month's rains have done it good. Everything is green and the purple bouganvilla adds some much needed color. Even the poinsettia has started to flower, which is odd: it normally blooms in December. Since my grandmother passed away the garden has rules of its own. We now have poinsettias from August to March; the tree is the tallest in the garden and keeps growing despite its apparent dryness. Perhaps my grandmother's soul lives inside it.
It definitely does not live in the small vine my mother planted over her ashes two years ago. The vine was completely lost when the gardener mowed the grass, oblivious to the delicate plant in the corner. Of course, it has never recovered, no matter how much love we give it.
I sigh, wrap myself closer in my robe and walk to the kitchen. My grandmother has been gone for three years and everything has changed. With us, not the house, not even the garden, poinsettia notwithstanding. She stares at us out of the countless pictures my grandfather has put on every wall and surface, taking care we carry on as before, no matter how hard it is.
“But we can't, not without you,” I tell the picture on top of the piano.
Since I moved in with my grandfather, I have begun to understand her impatience, her complaints. I use her exact words when telling him to be careful, to pay attention. So much so that he has started to call me by her name. I never know whether to be upset or not. I love her still, but I am not her.
The house differs. I feel it growing inside of me, feeding me my grandmother's moods, dashed hopes and dreams, even her ailings. I wear her clothes, her shoes, her perfume. Her rings and bracelets adorn my hands; it is her I see in the mirror. I give the cook instructions so she does exactly what my grandmother would have wanted. My joints ache and I fear the onset of arthritis.
I pour myself a cup of yesterday's coffe, warm it up and drink it slowly. I know that later, when I do the same thing after breakfast, my grandfather will say, “She used to drink her coffee in the oddest places, she would even take her cup to the bathroom.” I will breathe deeply, smile and reply that sometimes one needs to get things done and cannot sit down until the cup is empty. Besides, coffee is not to be drunk in a hurry.
Every morning I go through the same routine, the same (im)patient waiting for him to finish breakfast before I can finally begin my day. It grates on my nerves, yet I endure. Every morning I become a little more like her. But I have a plan: In a few days I will be gone from here. I need to regain my own life, go back to being myself. I have to, or the transformation will be complete and I will be stuck in this aging, breaking body forever.
[Éste es un cuento que envié a Yeah Writers! para publicación en su primer número. Veremos si sale. // I sent this short story to Yeah Writers! for their first issue. We'll see if they decide to publish it.]