Saturday, 26 June 2021

'Apagón 1992' by Maria Alejandra Barrios

The blackout starts after eight and when we walk in the neighborhood it feels like it’s ready to betray us. Tonight after dinner with Abuela, I walk the streets with Luis so we can say goodbye before he goes to the deep forest. Abuela and Luis are all I have left to protect me. This country with all its darkness will suffocate all the boys that make it out to the forest. I am a woman so I don’t suffocate. I wait. For men to come back, for the morning so I can make the arepas. For light.

After the military groups recruit in the neighborhood, Luis can’t talk about anything else. “It’s my turn,” he says and I try to memorize the lines in his face, the softness of his cheeks and his musky smell. Luis is going to make of his mom a woman without purpose and he doesn’t care. In the darkness, I can see him practicing how to hold a fusil like the ones the guerrilleros carry when they visit us. Like the ones they lean towards us when they want us to cook.

“Papá didn’t have fight in him but I do,” he says. Scared that someone will hear us, I kiss him so he shuts up.

The next night, I stand outside alone like a man and I open my hands like a little nest and close my eyes. Luis has left me with nothing but a small fire I can start with the palms of my hands. By now, he must be reaching the forest.

The fire burns so strongly that if I chose to, I could start a bigger one of my own.

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