The 18th of April by Luz Mañunga

The morning outside the living room window was spacious with spots,
dropped clouds amongst the sky’s background.
My Ma, phone to ear, started to greet the person on the other end.

With a soft blanket over my heated head,
slightly burnt bacon hanging from my mouth,
I titled my face towards hers.

Frantic fingers came up to muffle her jagged gasp,
salt pooling in her eyelids.
My ears peaked from my safety barrier against the air-conditioned cold,
perking when they heard vibrations through the phone speaker.

I clicked my teeth apart, curiosity forming against my lips when
Ma finally sensed another person.
Her jaw collapsed open,
for a second her body’s water stopped pouring onto her cheeks—
she analyzed her next step.

As if she was playing the winning move in chess,
she confidentially moved to my side, phone still in palm,
gathered my half-full plate and yanked me to my heels.
When Ma stripped the hot blanket off me, I caught the words
flowing out of the small cell phone.

The other end whispered rushed hesitancies of,
“Did you hear me?”s;
of sad, Spanish hellos;
of, “She died in her chair, hand over her heart
with God knows what portrayed in her eyes.”

Baffled, I spun to look at her.
She kissed my temple, shamefully avoiding the obvious stare, while
pushing me out the door.
She mumbled a hope that I have a good day at school.

Clad in pyjamas, stomach half empty, I start with a daze
walking the route to my bus stop.