Liquid ambrosia in the form of a scorching cup of Cafe Bustelo is placed on the table. Outside the tiny one-bedroom with two-beds Washington Height apartment, the 1 train frivolously slithers from the tunnel. Violently shaking the timeline of picture frames that grace the antique dresser.
“This was the first thing I brought you. I was what? Fifth teen. I had that summer job at the sneaker store. Every time we walked past Rubio’s; you’d mention how you loved this dresser. You were so mad at me for spending my first check on it. But every time someone came by, you’d brag about it.” Henri said.
“How I slept through that raucous, I will never know,” Henri says, as she blissfully sleeps. There was a time when the wailing sirens, thundering trains, and medley of bachata, reggaeton and whatever the hip-hop track currently dominated the air waves, were lullabies.
“The Spanish translation for career is race. Isn’t that ironic?” Henri says, with his trademark devil-may-care smirk.
“I’ve been running non-stop. Chasing the dollar. The American Dream. What do I have to show for it?” He says, pausing to think.
“Honestly, I ran away. I ran from this one bedroom, two bed apartment. Trading the vibrancy of Little Quisqueya for the solitude of Long Island suburbia. I even shamefully clean in silence. I look in the mirror and I don’t know who I am. It’s not who you raised. You ran. You ran from traditional abusive parents and the drowning oppression of a third world country in the 80s. Arrived in New York at 16. A child with a child. How’d you do it all? Without losing yourself?”
A summer breeze gently enters through the open window. Carrying, with it the mouthwatering aromas of freshly baked pan Cubano from the corner bakery. Suddenly his stomach roars with the ferocity of a lion.
“I am craving your mangu and fried salami with the pickled red onions. I don’t remember the last time I had a plate,” Henri says.
Henri notices her hand hanging abnormally off the side of the bed. Carefully he moves towards that side of the bed. He closes his eyes savoring the scent of the boldly, rich chocolatey and nutty cup of hazel nectar. When he opens his eyes, his heart breaks. On the ground slightly out of her reach, is the 8×10 photograph, from the last time everyone was together.
Her birthday two years ago. Of course, he was late. Why? Now he couldn’t remember. Did he have a sales meeting that day? No, used work as an excuse hoping to avoid the event. She was changing. The poison of age began to grip her mind and body. Regardless he was late and worse, in bad spirits. Despite this she greeted him with love and a smile. It had been two years since she seen him. Her heart was always right even if her mind wasn’t.
“I remember this day. You called me William. Who is William? I don’t know. In the excitement of your birthday, Alyssa forgot to give you your pills and-,” he paused, fighting back regret. “I was so mad. I snapped at Alyssa. Who am I to snap at her? She’s been here, while like a little boy, I left. She dealt with the doctor visits, and I paid the bills. That was the deal, but she’s the one who bathed and fed you. She’s the one who changed your diapers.”
The venom that erupted from his mouth that caused ruined the festive night. Hateful words laced with pride. As he walked out the door, he saw his mother’s eyes. A look of confusion and sadness. He broke her heart, and she couldn’t even remember why. He didn’t even say good-bye.
He returns to his two beds, one room home much too late.
“Mommy I am so sorry. I was so stupid. I should have been around. I’m sorry mommy. You needed me and I wasn’t there. I need you mommy.” Henri said, reaching to hold her hand. Tears flow from his eyes, uncontrollably.
Her eyes open with the instinct of a mother who knows her child is in trouble. She screams, “HENRI!”
Alyssa rushes into the small room, embracing her… our distraught mother. “WHERE’S MY HENRI… WHERE’S MY HENRI…” His mother shouts weeping.
A gentle hand touches my shoulder. To Henri’s surprise, an ethereal, serene warmth surrounds him. Before he leaves, he looks at the picture one last time.
Angel is a Creative Writing Major at Full Sail University. After 15-years of training young sales professionals to communicate effectively through email and phone calls across various verticals. Angel has decided to leverage his talent for creative writing and storytelling to embark on a successful writing career.