Mama was a superstitious woman. She hung the dreamcatcher with the bristling white feathers above her bed, and her wooden bedstands were brimming with opalescent stones brought by mysterious vendors to ward off the pernicious spirits, the entry ways were lined with salt, horse shoes were hung on nails, and in the center of her room was the Hamsa, the evil eye watching over her. Despite all her protective symbols, Mama was never content, she always needed more.
Mama loved to say she knew the future, specifically my future.
I remember days in my youth, sprawled under the sun-kissed garden, her angelic voice calling me, running through our field of lilies and roses, the chickens cooing and pecking at the floor as I strolled by. Those sweet summer days when the rays of light shone through the full branches really gave mama’s garden an ethereal glow. I saw the sunspots, marks of heaven, across her face, and she would smile at me, but somewhere hidden behind those eyes was always a glimmer of fear.
In the night, under the guise of her protective symbols, we sat out in the twilight, and looked up at the stars accompanied in complete harmony with the cricket’s chirping, hidden in the leaves, and the crackling of the wood, the maple burnt scent, and the ash rising upwards. She got deadly serious. I remember the reassuring face vanish. Her face went pale and still, as if she saw a vision. Her eyes went dead, beady, and she spoke with a voice I never heard before.
She was visited by a famous seer who lived in the mountains, the hooded man only appeared on rare occasions. He came to see her when she was pregnant, all those years ago.
Mama boasted of her talent in the prophetic arts, the celestial bodies spoke to her and she listened.
The famous seer laughed at her. Mama could not see the future. She did not know the man she loved would leave his seed with her. She did not know he did not love her. She did not know he would vanish before dawn when he found out. She knew nothing.
She must stop her false prophesizing. She was angering the spirits, the nights were growing colder, the winds were growing bolder, dark days were coming, people were disappearing. She needed to stop. In return the seer, who was a kind man duty-bound to the people of the mountains, would give her a vision. This was her reward for her cooperation.
Mama smiled and wished for one thing. She wished to see my future.
The seer took her to this very spot, he waited for the right moment. While the fire was burning, he pulled out his seer’s bones and scattered them into the fire, the bones hissed and moaned, a teakettle of pressure building until the bones grew dark and grey and Mama got the vision. Her eyes were mesmerized, unmoving, even when the smoke burned her eyes, she kept still, and she wept.
I asked Mama what the vision was.
She told me, under the light of the fire, my life would be beautiful. It was foretold my life would have purpose and meaning beyond my understanding and that I would be happy.
This happened a year ago.
Ever since that day, when she told me of the vision, Mama began to change.
The next coming days her spine began to curve, her shoulders would bend. Mama would say nothing, but I knew she was afraid.
Below her eyes there began to grow blotches of green and purple. I wanted to call the doctor, but Mama said no.
Within weeks Mama looked like she had aged years. I noticed clumps of hair fallen on the ground. I do not know if she ripped them out or if they fell on their own.
Mama stopped getting out of bed one day.
She stopped wanting to move. Her bones became so stiff I could not budge her at all. It was like she was nailed down. Her arms and legs started to grow thin and she would not eat.
I brought her soup, but her teeth became so brittle sometimes I found a tooth swimming in the broth.
I took care of her. When the nights were cold, I brought her more blankets. When she was hungry I made her food. Mama is growing deathly sick and tired. When she thinks I am not looking I know she has her painful tears because I have to clean them later on.
It was a Tuesday. I was twelve years old. The sky was an ominous grey, not the grey of a light rain or a pleasant windy day, but the dark monstrous grey of amassing clouds, the grey of a tumultuous thundering storm.
I awoke early that day with the feeling of falling. I felt something was terribly wrong.
I went to the kitchen to make mama her green tea. I was heating the water to a boil on the stove, watching the singular bubbles come to the surface, warming my hands over the heat, and I felt something. It was behind me. Something watching me. At first I was scared but it was not there to scare me, it was there to pity me, and I grew sad, and the water began to bubble and the loud hiss came, and I heard a quiet croaking groan. It came from mama’s room.
I went to her door and dared to peek in. A chilling cold wind washed over me. I will never forget that chill. The freeze in every bone and joint in my body, tingling from the base of my spine up to my neck.
I opened the door and saw Mama there on the bed.
She was sitting upright. She had on her all her jewelry, the spellbound stones, the phantasmagoric display of gems and crystals adorned on her neck and arms, the enchanted blanket with the five pointed star, the dreamcatcher stood still, the bed was overflowing with the minerals which were promised to protect her.
Mama was dead.
She was grey, pale, and still.
I started breathing heavy. I felt a boiling hot surge of anger poured over me, pin-needles poked every inch of my skin, the universe was prodding me.
“When will my life be good?”
I started to yell
“What use was the gems and the crystals?”
And the boy grabbed the mother by shoulders and shook her violently, the jewelry spilled on the floor, the stones cracking under the pressure, and he yelled at his dead mother, and the evil eye, the Hamsa, stood in the center of the room, watching.