Cruz and Tanís took the streets, Cruz with his radio in hand. Today was the day. Today was the day. Cruz had so much excitement inside he could no longer keep it in. He ran through the alley as fast as his legs would take him.
“Come on, Tanís! Hurry up!”
The clamor on Main Street got louder and louder. Cruz could hear the shouting and his smile widened.
Felizidades! Feliz dia de los muertos! shouted the people in the streets.
Holidays are fun. But for Cruz, this was his favorite. It was a day to remember those who had gone before him. His abuelo* past away only a few months ago. Abuelo would take him fishing, often, and would regale him with stories of the old days. He would recall to Cruz, whom he called with affection Cruzizito, the struggles he had growing up as a Mexican immigrant to the States-and Cruz loved him dearly. He respected him more than anything. His father had died when he was much younger, so Abuelo raised him up until his 12th birthday-the day Abuelo passed. Now he was alone with his little brother, Tanís .
But again, this was the day. He would surround himself with the people celebrating the day with their lost loved ones.
Cruz reached the street and the party was on. People dressed in the traditional festive clothing, men with suits and hats, some marichis and some catrins and the women, in their vestidas, very ornate and beautiful indeed. Others partook in the march to the cemetary in shorts and shirts but none could deny their commitment was genuine. They wore the make-up that was known worldwide-the calacas.
The louder the better! Con goso! They shouted. Cruz was ecstatic. “My feet hurt, Cruz,” Tanís said softly.
“Shh, mira.” Cruz pointed to the many in the streets, and the smell of delicious food filled the air. “Mmm. Abuelo, you smell that? Tanís , remember that was Abuelo’s favorite.”
Tanís nodded sadly. The eight year old lowered his head. “I miss him, too Cruz.” Cruz looked down to him and put his arm ove rhis shoulders. “When we reach the marking, you can help me clean and put some fresh flowers on it, okay?”
The boys made their way to the cemetary and sat near Abuelo’s marking stone, in silence. People started in and out and the sun began to sit. “Abuelo,” Cruz began, holding back his tears. “I have an ofrenda for you. I hope you like it.” He picked up the radio and pressed play. It was one of Abuelo’s favorite songs.
The song finished and Cruz and Tanís stood up. Cruz wiped his tears and started down at the stone.
Nunca me voy a olvidarte.
That was Abuelo’s way. He wanted his stone to read that. To remind them that although he was gone, he would never forget. “Abuelo, we will never forget you.”
By this time it was dark and Cruz decided to head home. “Let’s go, Tanís . It’s getting late. Let’s go.” Tanís yawned and and nodded. “It was a really great gift you gave him, Cruz. I know he loved it,” Tanís said with a smile.
Cruz returned the smile and moved his hand over Tanís’ hair, tossling it a little. As they reached the gates of the cemetary there was a man with a woman walking by. Cruz nodded respecfully to the young couple, dressed exquisitely. The man had on a slim tailored suit and had jet black hair slicked back. He had no make up as many of the others had. The young lady had on a black dress with jewels sparkling all around. In her hair was a beautiful, crimson rose.
“Ha venido a traer una ofrenda, ninos?” The man stopped and asked.
Cruz stopped and turned. “Si senor. You look…” Cruz stopped short. He was in awe of how well-dressed and charismatic the couple looked. Especially the man. The man was tall and lean but looked very strong.
The man smiled. “Que es tu nombre , hjio?”
‘I’m Cruz and this is my little brother Tanís.”
“Bueno, mira. I have a calavera for you, hijos.” He reached in his pocket and handed Cruz a rather old looking pocket watch. He gave to Tanís a pen, embellished with gold.
“Soy un escritor. Tonight is a time to celebrate and give. So I give you these. Pasen buen noche, hijos.”
Cruz nodded, as did Tanis. They smiled at each other and turned to walk away.
“Abuelo used to be a writer, Cruz,” Tanís said with a big smile. Cruz looked at the watch and his eyes lit up. He stopped suddenly and put his hand on Tanís’ chest. A glowing inscription appeared on the back of the watch:
Nunca te olvidare, Cruzizito.
The glowing faded and Cruz turned around quickly, just in time to see the man smiling back at him, nodding and waving good-bye as he vanished into the night air, his lady catrina going with him.
Dedicated to my Welo Bruno Longoria, who went home, almost 17 years ago. machine.
Usually the image should accompany the story but this image is too amazing not to add it. It embodies the end of the story….vanishing from sight.
Matter of fact, it really fits in with a story I wrote called Una Noche Con Los Muertos, but I won’t reveal it just yet. :}.
Dia De Los Muertos by the brilliant PhatpuppyArt.
Thank you, Claudia.
*abuelo is grandfather.
Another calavera I have for YOU is this, the November Issue of Underneath The Juniper Tree! Read on share at will!