I harvest because it allows me to set free. The pain filled and explicit events that my past has faced makes me shut out the surrounding world. I don’t know how to feel, all I know is that I feel alone. The past nights Amabelle has laid beside me, but it has felt as if she wasn’t even there. We don’t speak even though we have gone through so much to get to this point, she is a stranger. Maybe our silence is because we both have lost so much that it is just easier to not it bring up, maybe that is our escape. I love her, but there is just too much hurt in our history together. I told my mother all about her and her tragic losses. She now understands why there is no love between Amabelle and me.
I walk to my room to see Amabelle coiled in her own arms and legs. Her fragile body was still it looked as if her corps were ready for burial. I could see the hurt in her posture. She was faking a sleep which she did every night I walked in the room. I usually play along and pretend that I thought she was sleeping. The silence always bothered me, but I didn’t want to be a bother to her. Tonight was different though, I spoke out.
“My beans have sprouted,” I froze in hope for a reply. “Looks like I’ll see a harvest.”
Not acknowledging my presence, she didn’t move. I tried to find more words, but I just stood there waiting and she never spoke. I don’t know she probably knows that she will never see Sebastien again and I want to comfort her, but I also want her comfort. She is the only person that actually understands what I have been though so maybe it would help to turn to her.
“I have heard that the priests at the cathedral listen and mark down testimonials of the slaughter. They aren’t giving money, but they are collecting stories for the newspaper and radio men. The Generalissimo has found ways to buy and sell the ones here. Even this region has been corrupted by his money.” The silence once again filled the room. I was hoping that she would find something to say about telling her story, Sebastien’s story. She then turned her body towards me and said,
“Will you go to speak to the priests?” Just her voice alone warmed my body. I hadn’t heard it in days.
“I have already gone and they looked in their books. Their names are not there. I know what will happen, you tell the story and it’s retold and written as they wish. They change it to their words not yours.” She didn’t respond. “There are good days waiting for me in the fields. This means we will start to have money. You can buy cloth and thread, sew for people and make money on your own.”
I stood wondering what was running through Amabelle’s head. Did she want my help? I told myself that I would take care of her and I am trying. I have tried to be her masculine figure since Sebastien can not be here for her. I don’t even know is she needs me to be here for her. Possibly she wants to die and be with her loved ones that she has lost along the way. I wouldn’t blame her for feeling that way because this journey has been a huge load, but I have tried to take some of the weight and carry her along in hopes of finding life. Maybe I failed. Maybe I should have left her because her loss might be too much to handle. I couldn’t even imagine leaving her to rot because selfishly that would me my loss.
“Why did you keep planting even when nothing was growing?” She asked me.
I thought for a minute trying to find the right words to say, “Empty houses and empty fields make me sad” I paused once again then said, “they are both to clam, like the dead season.”
I shuffled my body deeper into the mattress making a sound that was an annoyance to the stunned silence. I could hear her unpatterned breaths and the cracking of her bones every time she moved even the slightest bit. I wanted to talk, but I didn’t want to say anything wrong. I can’t tell if she was ready to talk about stuff in the past. I was, but I didn’t want her to shut out again and leave me to think that she is mute. I took the chance.
“That night when Joel was hit by the automobile, it was almost me who died.”
“Sebatien felt like this too,” she responded.
“Joel, Sebastian, and me were walking on the road together. Joel was in the middle, and Sebastien and me were on either sides of him. I was on the side closest to the road. We saw the light and heard the automobile in the same instant. By the time we turned around, it was almost on my neck. Joel pushed me aside, so he had no time to run himself. He was struck and thrown into the ravine. Then the automobile stopped and people came out. I didn’t see Sebastian. I didn’t know where he was. I thought he was hit too. I ran off to hide behind a tree in the dark. The old man wanted to stay and look for us, but the other guy seemed to be in a haste.”
That was the first time that I have ever told my story on that night. I couldn’t quite tell if it was a load off or if me telling it was pointless. In a perfect world Amabelle would tell me I was right by running away and comfort me, but this isn’t a perfect world, it is almost a nightmare.
“It could have been me too at the church with Mimi and Sebastien. I saw them put Mimi, Sebastien, and the others in the truck. I saw it all from the road. I saw Sebastien supporting Mimi as her knees almost gave in. I saw the priests asking to stay with the people and their wish not being granted. I wanted to do for them what Joel did for me, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. Even in the river, with Wilner, I couldn’t. The thought came to me that I should across the river again to collect his body to be buried on this side. All the soldiers, all the guns. I couldn’t. I have not been able to do for anyone what Joel did for me. And I never will. No. Never. Because the more people I see die, the more I want to guard my own life.”
I didn’t want her to think I was a cowardly man, but I had to say it. I tried to mask my tears, but it only made me shake. Seconds later I felt a brisk hand rest on my leg and together we moved her hand up my thigh. This was her way of comforting me instead of words, her touch was there to calm me. Her hand moved to my neck sending a chill through my body. I then turned to my side slowly removing her nightdress. Then we stop. We just lay there on our backs waiting for a sign to tell us we were wrong for doing this. I didn’t want to force anything upon her, so I didn’t move and I waited for her to be ready.
“I should have been with Mimi and Sebastien at the church if it weren’t for the two bloody spots I noticed on the back of senoria’s dress I wouldn’t have stayed longer with her. And Odette. Odette might have lived if I didn’t press down on her nose so hard, though it was not my intention.”
I could feel her pain from the opposite side of the bed. I needed to reassure her that Odette was not her fault. She needed my comfort. “Odette died when Wilner died. They killed her when they killed him.”
Moments later her bony figure was atop of mine. She was very light, almost as if she were a child. Our bodies felt unbalanced, but soon enough we were afloat together. Comforting each other in a synchronized language that could never be spoken. I was grateful for her more than she could ever understand.
Our breaths were loud, but in pace with one another. I could tell that we were both trying to set free and eliminate that pain we had felt. Then something in my mind interrupted our melody. I couldn’t grasp what it was until all the memories flooded my head. I tried to bite hard, grinding my teeth to keep it inside, but I was overflowed with the images and the tears rushed out of my eyes dripping on the Amabelle’s face. It was uncontrollable.
I rolled back to my side of the bed, got up, and dressed myself. Why was there so much space between us now when we were just so close? I walked out of the room and out to the traveler’s tree. I sat there for a while blankly staring into the night sky looking for answers. Amabelle is love, but I know she will never love me in the way that I love her. Even after we did such a vulnerable thing, I know she just couldn’t find the right words to give to me, so she handed me the only thing available and that, that was not love.