A Million Crickets and Coquis Chirping

photo by kgm

***

I sat down in front of my computer and let my fingers touch the keys. After six days away, it felt strange. It felt nothing like swimming through the warmest, bluest, gentlest ocean waters, on a beach you've discovered simply by getting lost because all winding roads lead to the ocean, on a beach shaded by green cliffs, on a beach that is altogether yours, not another person in sight, not at all. It felt nothing like driving upwards and upwards, forever upwards, upon a road that shouldn't be wide enough for even one car but is actually wide enough for two, a road whose black is being eaten away by the jungle, whose bends are wrapped in vines so that you can't see what's coming to or from, leaving you trembling and tense and alive. It felt nothing like banging your knees together, holding the pose, finding the grip, keeping the rhythm, dancing to salsa. It felt nothing like Puerto Rico. It, in fact, felt strange.

Throughout my stay on the island, I hadn't even seen a computer. Today, I'm again used to it. It feels like a computer.

I sat down in front of my computer and let my fingers touch the keys. I opened Outlook with the pain of anxiety in my gut. I opened Explorer with the weight of fear on my back. I went to our homepage and was happy to see that my Sonos news piece had been posted. This is a small thing, but it is my first news piece, and so:

It makes me happy.

***

At first, I didn't miss my father at all. Why would I? What is there to miss? I've grown used to him not being around. But when I realized what they were doing — when I realized that they were going in order, oldest to youngest — my father would have been third — presenting their love to their parents — my grandparents — I could no longer silence it. I felt it bloom inside my chest. I could hear it screaming in my head like a million crickets and coquis chirping, punctuating applause, announcing life with an alarm.

It would have looked like this:
Aleida, Edwin, Oswaldo, Norbert, Ida, Daniel, Isaac, Omar

But, something was [blank]. And it was — it had to be — ringing inside us all. Who could ignore it? My father wasn't there. And why? He, of all the children, had the most to say, had the most reason to be there. But, he wasn't there.

It looked like this:
Aleida, Edwin, Norbert, Ida, Daniel, Isaac, Omar

Growing up, I often wished that any one of the others had been my father. Why couldn't my father have been Edwin? Why not Norbert? Why not Daniel? Isaac? Omar? Why did I get this father?

One by one, they stood before their parents, and to the music of guitar and violin, presented their love, offered their thanks, showed their appreciation. When it was his turn, my heart went mad. I almost rushed to the floor and stood where my father could not.

What was most beautiful was how each presentation so perfectly matched each child. There's a better way to say this. Aleida was thoughtful, Edwin to the point, Norbert bold, Ida emotional, Daniel heartfelt, Isaac playful, Omar festive. Had he been there, what would he have been? What would he have said? Would he have been able to thank his parents for believing in him, for praying for him, for paying his hospital bills, for sending him to rehab? Instead, as he has always been, he was absent.

It makes me angry.

***

I sit down in front of the computer and let my fingers touch the keys. It is not like the ocean, but it's good.

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COMMENTS
Al Marcy's picture

Death, disease, insanity and lesser prisons leave gaps in the wallpaper. The wall needs to be seen though the longing. We can imagine a better world, but, not with the current cast ;)

Todd Steponick's picture

Congratulations on your piece getting published, brother. I wish I could have gone exploring those roads and beaches with youse.

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