WHILE THEY REMAIN WITH US
CARL LORENZ CERVANTES
We are driving down the road. It is night time now, and my sister is asleep. My mother, yawning constantly, makes conversation with my father, who is driving, just so the hypnotic stretch of road does not make him fall asleep. The music on the radio is soft and melodic, but I can’t make out the words. I watch the blur of movement outside–there is nothing else but darkness.
I am five –maybe seven– years old. I’m not sure where we came from, but I know we’re going home. Did we come from Baguio? Isabela? Somewhere north, I’m sure. I’m too young to care and too sleepy to remember.
The sound of tires on the road is like white noise, and the vibration on the seat is pleasant. My eyes are heavy. I close my eyes, and an image appears of an April shower’s tree in full bloom, its leaves swaying in the warm summer air. The color of the flowers are heightened, so is the color of the grass and the blue sky. I’m seated on top of a rusty white metal slide, my sister is waiting for me to slide down so she could slide down too. I imagine that I’m in the airplane, up in the clouds. I miss riding the plane. I’m not sure why, but as far as I remember, I’ve always loved airplanes. There’s something about being away from everything, but knowing that wherever you’re going, you’re going home. I would fight with my sister about the window seat, and my mother would tell us that one of us can sit beside the window going to, and the other would sit on beside the window going back. I’d weigh my options. If I sit now, I won’t be able to sit later. That would be my last chance. The feeling of being lifted up is my favorite. The most exciting part of taking flight is when the airplane heads up. I brace myself, and we fly away.
I’ve always enjoyed flying. Like when my dad would carry me and throw me up in the air. I wouldn’t be afraid because I know that he would catch me. He does every time. After me, my sister, and after her, me, until papa’s arms are tired. He smiles at us, playfully telling us that that’s enough for today. Aww, we say. Papa is always part of our games on the street. He would always play the monster, and he would chase us. We like being chased, I don’t know why. Children are like that. It’s not that we want to run away. We just want to know that somebody is chasing us, who is just going to tickle us. Laughter in the streets. The laughter of children is contagious. I see the adults laughing along.
Mama nudges me. I notice that the vibration of the tires have stopped. We’re home. I’m too tired. Papa carries me to my room. I see mama carrying my sister, who is hugging her neck, her mouth open, drooling on mama’s shoulder. I want to laugh, but I’m too tired. Papa lays me down on my bed and takes my shoes off. Mama looks from the doorway. Is he asleep? She enters, walks over to me. I can smell her perfume. I’ve always liked her perfume. She gives me a warm kiss on the forehead. Her lips are warm and soft. Her hand strokes my hair, and I pretend to be asleep, but I know what’s happening. They close the door, and I am left in the dark, the peaceful dark.
I dream of myself, older, tired, alone. Why do I look sad? Maybe, when my body stretched, my heart did too. Why do I look like that? My older self is looking at something like a box, a long rectangle box. There is a picture frame on top of it, and flowers. Why am I crying about flowers? Who is in the box? A woman walks up beside my older self. She is crying too. She looks like my sister. They hug. I don’t think I would hug my sister. They fade away, far away, far away, into the darkness, and I feel myself being pulled out from the dream.
I wake up, a child again.