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Contemporary Fiction Holiday

Do you ever get that feeling that crawls up your tender, delicate skin and sends everything into a tornado of curiosity and a little teaspoon of fear? Well, welcome to my world. Hi. I’m Delphi Garcia. A 15 year old latina that lives in Mexico City. My whole life so far has been spent following in my mother and father’s footsteps that they laid out delicately, taking time and effort to lead to my succession in life, and getting this feeling. This strange, odd feeling. I’ve gotten it many times before, and it’s definitely far from unusual. I’ve interrogated my parents about it, asking them where it came from and what it means, but they only ever replied with: 

    “I don’t know mija,” They said, busy making empanadas or tending to my other siblings. 

    I’ve questioned them if they ever got the feeling, but they just looked at me with an odd expression on their face, far from being identified as good or bad or even in between. 

    But on Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, something was different. I was being pulled through the crowd of people all colorful in their dresses and shirts and looking like skeletons with their black and white makeup decorated with hand painted marigolds. I breezed right by the elbows that flung out at me as people danced to the music that blared from the musicians blowing into their trumpets and strumming their guitars, sending notes of graceful music billowing into the humid air of a fresh November evening. As my bare feet clung to the pavement, I maneuvered my way through the crowd, breaching from a barricade of people before getting trapped in one again. To me, all I could hear was the soft wind flowing in between the objects blocking it’s path and the wisps swooshing next to me, flying from behind to in front of me, twisting and turning every which way. My eyes traveled from one place to another, glued on the flying objects. No one else seemed to notice around me. They danced and sang and became slightly drunk as they lost consciousness of what they were doing or where they were. 

    The weird thing was, I was never one for superstition or any of those fanatic things. But this? This was different. At first, when I got introduced to Día de Muertos, I found it as a weekend to party with my friends and try on dresses and practice our makeup for when we wanted to use it for school. My parents went on and on about the traditions and how it was such a special holiday but I never was interested in it. There were half of the people who were like me: Found it as an excuse to get lost in the night partying with friends and forgetting all about school and other things. And then there are the other people. By the others, I mean the ones who went by the book and set up alters and sent prayers to lost ones, spending all their time laying out marigold petals one by one to create the perfect trail to lead their loved ones home. When mother put me in charge of placing the petals accordingly, I wasn’t very into it and started tossing them around but then felt some remorse and forced myself to take the time to place the marigolds into a flawless formation until my back ached and head hurt. 

    Now, when my grandmother passed, that’s when things got weird. That’s when I started to get that weird feeling. Everyone said it was a way that my grandmother spoke to me, but I just thought it was an excuse to throw a pity party for myself. After she passed, I never held to anything or gave hope for I knew that it would get crushed in the end. That’s what the doctors said at least. They said that the tuberculosis was getting better. That she was most likely going to make it even though the recovery may not be easy. When mother got the call that she had passed, she hung up the phone and when I looked into her eyes everything fell around me. In an instant, I was in her arms and tears were streaming down our faces, our clothes catching them like delicate raindrops before falling to the floor. I stayed locked in my room for months. Eventually, I got better, but during that time I was always so scared and hesitant of everything. Whenever someone coughed or sneezed, I ducked behind the cover of my arm. Whenever someone I hadn’t talked to started a conversation with me, I used all the effort I had to try to turn them down the first second I got for fear of losing them too. After all, nothing is permanent except change itself. 

    The further I followed the sensation guiding me toward my destination, the further I moved from the crowd. The streets were becoming less dense with people and the music slowly faded off into the background. My bare feet moved forward with each step, collecting pieces of crushed marigolds and bits of loose asphalt. I wasn’t sure where I was going, but all I knew was that what lay ahead was important. 

    Everyone had always said that my grandmother would come to me in some form. Whether it be a ghostly spirit, in a dream, or through the lights or wind. To that, I laughed. Nothing good ever happened to a girl like me. People always forced themselves into having these thoughts just to have a piece of mind. They will trade anything for 2 things: Convenience and ease. To be comforted when and wherever there please. To put themselves ahead of everyone else in society and have the world revolve around them. 

    I’m not one to lie. A lie hurts everyone. So, when people told me that my grandmother would come to me, I always sat on my bed staring out the window leading to the backyard and looked up to the spot that was squeezed in between two tree branches. There sat the North Star, and every night I looked up to it and prayed that one day my grandmother would come back to me. Every birthday wish, four leaf clover I found, and every 11:11 spent hoping that somehow, my grandmother would return and all of it would be a bad nightmare that would eventually be in the past. But nothing happened. And each and every time I made that life-changing wish, I started to lose hope, and some nights I would just not bother looking out my window and went straight to bed. So, when people heard my failure, they tried to reassure me by explaining Día de Muertos and how my grandmother would come to me then. That’s when I made it my mission to bring grandmother home. I spent hours with my mother in the market buying foods and supplies and laying out the decorations and applying the makeup just right with the perfect proportions to assure that she would come. But, on the day and night when we partied and it was said the spirits would return, nothing happened. I sat down at an empty table and stared lifelessly at some ants crawling around the ground, fighting for the remains of a crushed piece of crummy bread as I slowly emptied my bottle of soda. As I sat in a world that was frozen and motionless, everyone around me threw their arms up in the air and partied with others, dancing and singing to the music. Ever since, I counted down the days to Día de Muertos with a pain stabbing at the remains of my heart. The only reason why I came to this one was because I had made a friend. Carmen Santiago, and she was eager to do our makeup together and spend the night out in the city having fun and partying. That’s when it all started. When we were dancing around and I actually forgot the reason why I dreaded coming to the festival when a swarm of people came barreling in through us, and we were both swept away from one another as the flood of people took over the space in between us. I suddenly became worried and looked around nervously calling her name as the air became tight and people took the last bit of space around me, squeezing me in and leaving me unaware of where I was or where I was going. That’s when I felt that feeling pulling me toward my destination. I finally found an opening and breached from the crowd of noisy people, taking a deep, steadying breath. I stood up, and found myself surrounded by stray walkers as they hurried to catch up with the rest of the people. I looked around and eventually was alone, shivering slightly as the wind picked up. Suddenly, the feeling sprouted again and before I knew what I was doing, I was already walking up the road, away from the crowd of people. I wasn’t sure where I was, or what time it was. I know mother and father said to be home by 11:00. My feet carried me for a good 3-5 minutes regardless of my mind wondering what I was doing or where I was going. Ahead of me, I started to see a crowd form, and the trumpets and drums began to fill the air with their sweet sound of music. My throat tightened and the thought of turning around was a possibility until the feeling took over again and my body was pulled into the crowd, swerving every which way and trying to fight the push and pull of people going in the opposite direction. Eventually, I found the end of the stampede of people and pulled myself past the last layer to finally breathe a sigh of relief. I continued walking, and hurried along the side of the roads quicker and quicker. When I turned the corner, I immediately stopped. Instinctively, I turned to my left and there stood a dimly lit entrance to the local graveyard. Right on time, the wind blew it’s greeting and I knew that whatever it called me for lied right ahead. For the first time that evening, I was hesitant as my feet stepped onto the cobblestone path. An instant feeling of loneliness and fear shaked me but my feet kept pushing me forward. My breath was short but steady, and a faint yet constant golden glow produced enough light to find my way through the tombstones. I wasn’t sure if I was trying to find a deceased body that would mean something to me or if I was supposed to meet someone here. My feet retreated from the cobblestone and started surveying the tombstones and I scanned through the rows, the cool grass tickling my toes. When I knelt down to take a closer look at one of the stones to see the name inscribed on it, something caught my eye and I looked up to find a person peeking out from behind a large tombstone which was taller than the figure. I couldn’t tell if I was imagining it or not, but the person looked wispy and had an orangey glow around them. They didn’t move, and just stood there behind the tombstone staring at me with a tilted head. Without thinking, I started walking toward the figure, almost positive that they wouldn’t be a danger to me. As I got closer, the person started to reveal more and more detail of themselves and eventually I stood right in front of them. They slowly crept out from the protection of the tombstone and I instantly broke down in tears. With the soft hair and delicate, slender features of the person, I immediately knew who it was.

    “Grandmother?” I asked, voice breaking slightly as I covered my mouth with one hand. 

    The person slowly nodded, and I could see a smile start to form. 

    “Can you speak?” I questioned, wondering why she didn’t open her mouth.

    She shook her head, and I pondered on why she couldn’t. I broke down again, tears streaming down my face and smearing my makeup in a rainbow of color. I wrapped my arms around hers and I held her for a long time. Just sat there, swaying from side to side. I actually felt deep down below my heart slowly piece back together, and in a very long time, happiness. True, pure happiness. Eventually we let go, and she took my hand and brought me to an empty area where she sat down on the grass and spread out her arms, soaking up the comfort of the grass as if it were a fluffy blanket. I was confused for a moment, until I understood. 

    “Oh, you want to look at the stars?” I asked.

    She nodded, and I slowly got down onto my back and looked up into the night sky. We never saw stars in the city, but tonight was different. Specks of white splattered against the blackness of the night and my grandmother’s hand slowly slipped into mine. It felt fragile and delicate, but I held it tight, never wanting to let go. 

    I wasn't sure if I was imagining this or if it was real, but none of it mattered anymore. My heart healed and I finally got my wish granted. We sat there as the time passed by, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. Because for once, I believed.

May 15, 2021 02:46

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6 comments

Natalie Sherer
02:02 Feb 05, 2022

I loved the story, the description of the holiday was perfectly represented. And I'm always amazed by the diction you use. It's very captivating for the reader, Very good story!

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Francis Daisy
12:09 Nov 30, 2021

I love that her grandmother came to her for a visit. If you could break your longer paragraphs up a bit, it would be a little easier to read. If this story is based on a real experience, I'm so happy for you! My grandmother comes to visit me quite often.❤

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Michael Regan
17:24 Nov 29, 2021

A nice story. I found the one long paragraph a little hard to read. It could have been broken up into a number of shorter ones.

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Sonja V.
20:05 Jan 29, 2022

Thank you for the feedback!! I'll be sure to use it in my next story.

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Iris Orona
19:55 May 21, 2021

I MISS MY GRANDMOTHER SO MUCH... THANK YOU FOR THIS STORY.

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Sonja V.
22:13 May 21, 2021

Of course! I’m so happy you liked it!

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