As part of the Worlds of Wonder author hop taking place for a few more days, my post today is another excerpt from Obscura Burning. Enjoy!
Closing my eyes, I imagine New Mexico burning, can almost smell it, the pungent pine, fireball mesquite, and smoldering cacti. I should be worried about the damage the UV’s doing to my scars, but after tonight, none of that will matter.
Just when you think it can’t possibly get any hotter or the mercury will explode, the temperature rises just a few more degrees. Today, Coyote’s Luck lies in a simmering mirage, hotter than any hell imaginable.
The crush of mesquite huddling between the tombstones offers little respite from the sun. Sticking to the dappled shade, I thread my way toward Danny’s grave. I’m not alone.
She looks like a ghost with the white sundress fanning around her legs, her long black hair teased by the warm breeze. For a moment, I think it’s one of the ch’iindi made flesh, until she turns at the sound of my step.
Gabriela, her face a teary-eyed frown. She folds her arms and returns her gaze to the grave. When did she get so thin? She was always so voluptuous, a shorter, less saggy version of her mother. Now she looks more like a sixteen-year-old kid, barely there in layers of cotton.
We stand in silence, both just staring at the grave. The rosaries dangle over the stone, tied in knots around the stems of already dead flowers. There’s a white and blue beaded one, the one that was attached to Danny’s bed, the one he’d kiss at night before going to sleep.
“I miss him so much,” Gabriela says eventually.
“So do I.”
“I blame you, you know.” She casts me a sidelong glance.
“Maybe you should.”
She nods and sniffs and fingers one of the blooms turned brown by the heat.
“Dead, all of it.” She tears the petals from the stalk. “Little Maria, now Daniel.” She turns her dark eyes on me, searching for something I wish I could give her.
“This is killing my parents. Daniel was their only son. They’ll never have more children. Once, I had a brother. Now I’m alone. Sister to dead siblings.”
That’s the most Gabriela’s ever said, to me at least. I’m stunned into uncomfortable silence. There’s nothing I can say that’ll make it right. But tonight, maybe there’ll be something I can do.
“I wish I could make it right.” My words sound so pathetic.
She harrumphs and digs her sandaled toe into the dirt. “Nothing can make Daniel dying right.”
“I’m sorry.” There is nothing else I can say without trying to explain the whole confusing story and Gabriela’s not the type to believe in rifts in reality.
“Tell Daniel you’re sorry. He’s the one who died because of you.” She takes a deliberate step away from me, crosses herself, offering prayers in Spanish to the ether.
“I loved him, you know.” Maybe I am to blame, but she makes it sound like I don’t give a crap that he’s dead.
“Obviously not enough.”