The Visitor

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


In college, one of our assignments was to write a short story using the genre Speculative Fiction, a kind of Science Fiction. I revisited and made a few adjustments. It is a short story and a work
in progress.

Submitted: January 30, 2018

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Submitted: January 30, 2018

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Here and Now

 

What I remember most is his touch and how it sent waves of electricity through my veins. I felt invincible in his embrace, as if I too, could live forever. That’s not the way my kind works. My kind grows old and bitter, and eventually, we die and “become one” with our earth. Nasir Hernandez with the root beer colored eyes changed my life. I was twenty years old when he came from the ocean. I am now ninety-six and dying. I never wanted to know a life without him. Why did I go to the ocean that day? Why didn’t I go to the trails like I always did? Would I have many kids and many grandkids sitting by my side in this godforsaken hospital bed? It is hard not to be bitter when my great love could not stay.

There comes a day when we meet someone that starts a fire in our hearts, and the godawful truth is that, sometimes, they are not always the someone with whom we will spend the rest of our lives with. It is quite the travesty when two hearts meet in such a manner, at two different intervals in life who simply cannot be. We are given one soulmate in our lives. I found mine, but he could not stay. My heart aches and it is not because of the cancer. I am ill in a way that can only be cured by the touch I once knew. I am missing a part of me that now lives in the ocean. My heart calls for his.

Do you still think of me?

     If I die now, will you come find me?

     Say you will.

     I am here, and I have been waiting.

 

The First Encounter at the Ocean

 

They call the beach that borders my city of El Mayo, Texas, “The Infinite Oceans,” why it is plural I do not know. It was a terrifying and beautiful ocean. Sweet to the touch but stray too far, and you will be consumed by its unforgiving waves into an abyss of nothingness - at least that is what I imagined would happen. I cannot swim, but I do go into The Infinite Oceans neck-deep, just enough to feel her all over me, but not enough for her to pull me in. I am terrified of water and the unknown, and The Infinite Oceans embodies all that. I needed to feel alive, and what better way to feel alive than to meet death halfway.

My whole life was planned out. I would graduate come next spring, and I would work in mother’s PR firm where I currently have my internship. My mother is Maria Elena Gutierrez, owner and founder of Latinx Communications, a public relations firm in El Mayo, Texas. Most of my peers consider me lucky; lucky to have it all planned out, while they scurry around like chickens without heads as they try to figure out what they want to do with their lives. I wish I could be a chicken-head. Beatrice Ariella Martinez, the chicken head. I want to scurry about as I find my way in life because that’s what your twenties are all about - or so I’ve read. My mother had a different plan for me. I’m an adult, and I can just get up and leave, do what I want with my life, right? This guilt weighs heavy, and I have carried this guilt for far too long. I am weak for my mother. I cannot abandon her. Mi madre buena. She lived a tough life. We both have. My father used to beat her and eventually left us for her sister, my aunt, Theresa. I was about seven years old when he left. I think I cried, but not from the sadness of his leaving. I cried for my mother, mi madre buena. I think I have a cousin named Anna or Hannah, but I don’t care. Aunt Theresa can have him and his weird mustache.

My mother eventually remarried to the new love of her life, Carlos Guitierrez. The two helped kickstart Latinx Communications. Carlos Gutierrez became part of our little family when I was fourteen years old. He died when I was seventeen in some freak accident at the local grocery store, Juan’s Bodega. My mother didn’t tell me the details, but I eventually read about it in the local news. Someone dropped a gallon of milk, the spill was not cleaned all the way, and there was no “Caution: Wet Floor” sign. He slipped and hit his head on the metal part of the refrigerated aisles. Next thing you know, he’s dead. He died right next to my favorite apple juice. Sometimes, when I go grocery shopping with my mother, I think about how stupid his death was; how can someone actually die from hitting their head at a grocery store? My mother pretends to not need anything from that aisle, and I bring the milk when she’s in line to pay.

She was crazy in love; her eyes glistened when he would walk into the room, even if it was just to pour himself a cup of coffee. They would danced as they cooked the arroz con pollo, they would stay up late watching mother’s novelas, and he would even leave love notes on the toaster before he left to work. It was all very sweet, and I was happy my mother was able to trust another man again. Love is easy, trust takes time and commitment. They were really quite the team, but I never really accepted him as a step-father. I liked him, but I liked the idea that I didn’t need a father more.

 

   I can still hear you cry at night, is it for Carlos?

 

It was a rainy morning. I am always up by 8 a.m. No real obligations to it other than the fact that I got a morning run in with little to no people encounters on the trails. My mother sat and sipped her tea, reading the paper. The sunflower-shaped clock ticked, and it tocked. The sneakers I wore to run the trails sat by the door as they always did after a run. My coffee tasted the same way it did yesterday. My toast was a golden brown, as it always was. There was once a man on the news that claimed his toast was burned with the image of the Virgin Mary. I remember thinking it was funny and kind of wished something bizarre like that would happen to me. The only bizzare thing to happen to me was having Carlos die at the local grocery store.

“It stopped raining. I think I’ll go for my run now,” I said breaking the silence.

“There are clean socks on the dryer,” my mother said as she sipped her tea, not once looking up from her paper. My mother was always so quiet since Carlos died. She kept herself distant, detached from everyone other than her clients. Sometimes, I liked visiting her at work because I got to see firsthand the sweet performance she’d put on for the clients and staff. You would never know she was abused or that her late husband died at a grocery store. We carried the weight of our thoughts and feelings on our backs and away from each other. There were moments I had with my mother that live forever in my memory. I visit these memories when I forget the warmth of her company; silence is loud in this household, all consuming and dark. One time, I think I was about eighteen, my mother woke me up at midnight on a school night and suggested we make chocolate chip cookies. Part of me knew she was finding an escape from missing Carlos, but the other part of me wanted to eat chocolate chip cookies at midnight.

I cannot say what triggered this uncontrollable urge to break routine that morning. I wanted to run. I wanted to feel free.

I didn’t grab the clean socks. I didn’t grab the sneakers I wore to run the trails. I wore my yellow Jane Austen’s Emma t-shirt and navy blue pajama shorts, and made my way out. I walked out barefoot, feeling the texture of the wet grass, warm gravel, and then cool sand at my feet. The smell of rain. I ran fast. I ran towards The Infinite Oceans. I ran faster when I saw The Infinite Oceans appear at my horizon. I ran as if there was something I’ve been waiting for all my life was at the finish line. If I could run on water, I would have kept going.

Alas, I met The Infinite Oceans at my feet. I ran towards it until I was neck-deep, as if I wanted this beautiful and terrifying ocean to choke me, to shake me, to make me feel something. I closed my eyes and imagined what it would be like to go further. Faint sounds of thunder could be heard in the distance, but still my eyes remained closed. The waves got stronger, but still my eyes remained closed. My feet began to bounce off the sandy ground causing me to lose my balance, but still my eyes remained closed. I was not afraid. Finally, silence came. Never before had I experienced such silence, even at home. All was still and quiet. Not even the clash of waves could be heard. I opened my eyes. The ocean was still. Not one ripple in the ocean could be seen. I could not feel the wind. I could not feel the water. It is almost as if I became the water, I became the ocean. Weighless.

I looked down into the water, and in the depths of The Infinite Oceans, there was a bright light emerging. Rising slowly then all at once.

No sound.

No movement.

Just breathe.

Suddenly and all at once, there was sound and movement, as if God Himself pressed play. The light was gone. I turned my back to The Infinite Oceans and began making my way to the sandy shore. I laid my wet body on the dry sand. I was lost in this moment. What a treat it was to feel everything and nothing all at once. I felt at peace with myself for the first time in a long time, as if welcoming an old friend. I closed my eyes and rested.

I awoke and found him standing over my body. I quickly sat up, startled by his presence. However, I was strangely unafraid. Confusion written on my face, curiosity written on his. I look to my surroundings, still wearing confusion.

I was taken back by his eyes. I felt dizzy, the kind of dizzy you feel when you get up from bed too quickly. His eyes. The color of root beer soda. I hate root beer, but I was liking his. They were a beautiful shade of brown. His black, wet hair swooped right above his eyebrows.                

Wait, who is he? Why is he staring at me?

“Can I help you?” I asked, rubbing the center of my forehead.

“You shouldn’t stray too far into the water; she could have swallowed you whole. Can you even swim?”

“That doesn’t concern you, besides I wanted to-- wait, who are you?”  

My defense mechanism kicked in. My heart was racing. I did not take interest in the opposite sex or anyone for that matter. I kept to myself most the time. I had my books to keep me company, and that is all I ever needed. I once had a friend named Margaret. She moved away when I was thirteen. I don’t miss her, but I do think about her and her pet rabbit, Sky, a lot.

“My name is Nasir. You were drowning.”

I was drowning?

“I don’t remember drowning -- I wasn’t drowning -- but how? How did you find me, Nasir?”

I exagerrated my pronunciation of his name because, frankly, I was annoyed that I still had no idea who he was or where he came from. Now both my heart and my mind were racing.

The moment of calm - is that when I drowned?

The light - what was that?

There was no one on the beach -how did he get to me?

He is quite handsome.

“I saw you. I came up to save you. You're safe now. What's your name?

“Beatrice. Where did you ‘come up’ from?”

“The Infinite Oceans.”

“You were swimming?”

“I live in the water.”

“How do you live in the water? Are you some kind of mermaid?”

“No. I am like you.” He did not seem amused by my sarcasm, but his eyes never left mine. I began dusting the sand off my wet skin, admittedly, as a distraction. His gaze made me nervous, and I did not want to give him that power. I rose to my feet.

“Well, Nasir, I have to get home. My mother is probably wondering where I am.” I was making excuses I knew weren’t true, and I knew weren’t necessary. I was nervous. I had never felt this way before. Maybe it was because I really did drown, and I was still a little out of it. His eyes were locked on mine. I can’t be that interesting, I thought to myself.

“Can I come up to see you again?”

You want to see me, again?

Come up from where?

Do you really believe you live in the water?

“I don’t really come to the beach, and I don’t know how my mother would feel about me coming to see a mermaid.”

“I’ll go to you,” he said still not batting a lash to my sarcasm. I ran my fingers through my hair to get the strips out of my face. I was confused by his demeanor but, above all, infatuated.

“Okay. Maybe I’ll be back.”

“I hope you do.”

“Maybe.”

“Say you will.”

I pause and for the first time in what feels like an eternity, I couldn’t help but smile. A genuine smile.

“I will.”

I left it at that. I did not want to have this kind of distraction. I don’t know why I kept away from guys, or anyone. I used to only talk to Margaret, but only for the one semester she was here. She was smart and funny and had a pet rabbit. Her hair was light brown and cut short. She moved away, and I never heard from her again. I think her father was in the military, so she was always moving to different schools. I wanted out of this city with no connection that I ever even existed in it. is what my mother would say when I told her about my leaving without a trace. Teenage angst at age twenty seemed a little juvenile and immature, but I couldn’t help it. Detached and disconnected in my own skin. Graduating college come next year, working for my mother’s firm full time, it was all so uninspiring. I was born and raised in El Mayo, Texas, but I never felt I was truly from this place.

I wonder where my dad is from.

I got home to find my mother working in her home office.

“Hey.”

“If you’re hungry, the oatmeal on the stove is still hot,” she said not once looking up from her computer screen.

“Thanks.”

My mother and I didn’t really talk to each other, unless we had to. She used to call me princesa and chula and slowly stopped when my father left us. He never laid a hand on me, but that did not keep him from beating my mother in front of me. What he probably didn't understand, and perhaps never will, is that his abuse towards me was all mental. Screaming to leave her alone, he would look at me and storm off. Running to hug my mom after he'd beat her, only for her to push me away and tell me to go to my room.

“You make me look like a monster in front of her!”

You’re the monster.

The terms of endearment my mom used to call me once warmed my heart. They now linger in my brain as tidbits to memories on the way things used to be. When Carlos was alive, she would sometimes revisit these endearments, and for that reason only, I missed Carlos’s presence. He made my mother sweet. He died, and my mother’s sweetness died with him. It’s as if my mother declared his death her final straw - her final attempt to be happy. It was as if she forgot I still lived. Temporary happiness is something I grew accustomed to at an early age. I went about my day as I always did after my morning run, although today there was quite the distraction.

 

Nasir.

 

I went to school until noon and then straight to my internship until about 4 p.m. My mother did not go to the office today. I almost feel guilty for  enjoying the time she stayed out of the office. I would feel less pressure. Most of my work was administrative, and today’s tasks involved expense reports. I was pretty much alone and unbothered all afternoon in my cubicle. Pausing to think about the strange encounter I had with Nasir, I wondered if he would even be there when I go to The Infinite Oceans.

 

Did I really drown?

I could not have drowned.

I remember walking back to the sandy shore.

Nasir, who are you?

 

Making my way to the bus stop, the excitement to see him again grew. I did not want to admit that a boy had me feeling new. Pleasantly unpleasant, sweet on command, and reserved by choice. Me in a nutshell, and I planned on keeping it that way.

 

He Came to Me in The Night so I Went to The Infinite Oceans

 

I dreamt of him that night.

In my dream, I could swim. As a matter of fact, I could dance. I was dancing with the fish as they swirled around me. I was weightless. I was free. Near the bottom of the ocean, there it was again, the light. I swam towards it, and suddenly, he appeared. Nasir. Everything became blue,  all the beautiful shades of blue the world has to offer, but not his eyes. His eyes remained that vibrant brown I will forever remember. I swam closer to him. He swam closer to me. The light got brighter and brighter the closer we got to each other.

I awoke, and that was the end of my dream.

3 a.m. I wanted to fall asleep again. I wanted to dream, again.

The Infinite Oceans.

I thought about going to the beach that same night. I thought about what it would be like to find him there. I craved that feeling I got from the ocean; she made me feel complete. I got up from my bed, put on my sneakers this time, and headed for the beach.

No hagas cosas buenas que parecen malas; no hagas cosas malas que parecen buenas. I could already hear my mother utter these words.

I ran to her, The Infinite Oceans. Admittedly, I was disappointed not to find him there. Still, I wanted to feel her all around me.

Just neck-deep.

I closed my eyes. Waves crashing against my face. My feet bouncing on and off the sandy ground. She took me for a ride. I opened my eyes. The ocean was dark with a beautiful reflection of the moon. The moon was bright and friendly. I looked up to her and smiled.

Hello Moon.

“She’s beautiful.”

Startled and relieved, I turned around to find him there, neck-deep in the water.

I could not help but smile.

“I knew you’d be back, Beatrice. So I waited.”

“You waited here?”

“No, there.”

He was pointing down to the water.

“What does that even mean?” I asked growing frustrated in my lack of understanding.

“Can I show you?”

He was weird, but he did not scare me. I knew I was safe, and I cannot explain why. There was a certain calmness I felt in his presence.

Finally, I nodded.

He took my hand and sent waves of electricity through my veins. An electrifying feeling ran through my body and lit up the outlines of my veins. I was becoming the light. I was glowing.

He looked to me as if asking me if I was okay. “I’m not afraid,” I reassured him.

He reached for my hand and submerged me into the water with him.

It didn’t matter that I could not swim. I could dance if I wanted to. He released my hand, and I danced to the rhythm of the waves around me. Shades of blue, shades of gold. It was a dream.

“This is where I live.”

I could hear him, but his lips did not move.

I nodded. He was my main golden focus, his background blue.

We went deeper into the ocean. Deeper and deeper, faster and faster. Our surroundings changed the faster and deeper we went. Suddenly, we were not surrounded by water. Our bodies were not wet. We were on land.

I looked to the skies above, and I saw fish and sharks and whales and jellyfish.

 

The Infinite Oceans truly was infinite.

 

Nothing in me felt afraid. I felt welcomed, as if I belonged. I was in awe with all I could see. The land was beautiful and vast. The wind greeted me with the friendliest hello. I walked and spun around like a ballerina.

“Look at this place! It’s a beauty!”

Nasir stared at me in admiration. I had never been looked at that way before. He reached out his hand, inviting me to see more. I placed my hand in his, and we ran like children chasing fireflies.

He showed me his favorite places, and they became mine, too. The flowers danced where they were planted, the bright green grass sent glitter to the sky when it was tickled by the wind. The trees hovered over the land in a warm embrace. The animals all lived in harmony. It was truly magical.

We spent the whole day telling stories, watching the animals roam and the fish swim in the sky. 

Everything around us seemed to happen so fast. “Time does not exist here,” Nasir said. We counted fish to see who could get to one hundred first, and it was bonus points if we spotted a whale - those were counted as five points. For the first time in my life, I felt like a child. Innocent and curious, wanting to explore and learn. All was right in this world. We ate cotton candy from The Purple Sweets Tree and drank lemonade squeezed from The Lemon Rox. I was happy.

He took me to The Yellow Forest.

“This is where I was born.”

The trees were like normal trees, except these trees were shades of a glistening yellow. The barks of the trees were golden. The wind kissed your face, and the trees seemed to be smiling down. He took my hand, and took me to the river that ran through the forest. This river acted as the veins of The Yellow Forest. The water was so clean and pure. He took my hand and walked me to the biggest, most tremendous tree I had ever seen.

“It’s a Weeping Willow Tree,” I said.

I know time did not exist here, but I never wanted it to end. I don’t think anyone had ever made laugh as much as he did. We talked about our dreams and fears under the embrace of the Weeping Willow. I told him I was afraid to feel happy because everything I knew was temporary. I told him how much I hated my father for turning my mother so cold. I told him I hated God for presenting her to Carlos, only to take him away in the stupidest freak accident. I told him my heart ached for a love I never truly felt I knew. Tears rolled down my face. He reached for my face, wiped the tears off my rosy cheeks and held them in his hand.

“Look.”

He opened his hands, and my tears floated off. We watched as my tears became part of the Weeping Willow.

“You are safe here.”

He placed his arms around me, and we slept in the safety of the Weeping Willow.

His world was like mine, only brighter and the color more vibrant. I trusted in a complete stranger. I never worried about finding a significant other, or anyone for that matter. I always told myself: “Find yourself first.” This intoxicating uncanniness opened my heart and soul. I was meant to find Nasir. I was meant to see this world. We talked about everything; I don’t think I ever talked so much. I used to let my books and poetry do the talking, and I did the listening. I had a lot to say, but I never felt I had the audience. Not until now.

We are allowed to enter your world three times. The first time I ever went up to your world was to save you. The second time to find you there, again. I can only hope the third is to keep you. I thought I would never go up to your world, but there was a light in the sky. It called for me. Something in me knew I had to reach for it. I didn’t know that it was you I was reaching for. You were motionless, like a rag doll floating in the water. I knew something was wrong, so I took you to shore. I had never held something so beautiful in my life.”

 

He was the light I saw.

 

I followed the light. I dreamt of the light. I became the light.

I had no real intentions of leaving, but I knew I had to go soon. Nasir showed me a whole new world and a whole new side to me I had never known. I would catch a reflection of myself in the waters, and I could not recognize the happy, golden face that stared back. I guess if I tried, I could think of a time I was truly and sincerely happy. My sixteenth birthday. Carlos and my mother gifted me a locket with a baby picture of myself in my mother’s arms. We went to the carnival and ate popcorn and rode rides and we were happy. That is a moment I would travel back in time for. Just to hear my mother say Feliz Cumpleaños princesa. The thought of reliving such a moment warmed my heart. My mother and me and Carlos - we were a family that day.

 

“Can I come see you, again?”

Every day.

“Yes.”

He took me back to shore in the same way we arrived, only this time, it is as if we were going in slow motion. Our eyes blinked slowly as we turned to look at each other. We neared the surface and everything was as before. The Infinite Oceans, and its many ripples.

I returned to the sandy shore. I was left in a daze, a glowing happiness.

Mamá!

“My mom must be worried. How much time has passed?”

“Not enough,” he said. I blushed and smirked at him.

“No really, how much time has passed?”

He admitted he did not know how time worked when my kind came into The Infinite Oceans. It was his first time out when we had our first encounter. Panic at the thought that I have been out too late struck.

“I have to get home now!”

“Will I see you again?”

“I’ll be back as soon as I can, okay?”

He pulled me back and kissed me.

“Really soon, Beatrice.”

I smiled at him, almost forgetting I had to go.

I released myself from his emabrace and ran home.

I ran fast. I was so nervous. I had never been in trouble with my mother. Maybe once, in elementary school. I gave myself a haircut. I wanted to have short hair. During arts and crafts, I took the ‘adult’ scissors, and chopped my long black locks. My mother was angry, but the kind of angry only a mother could feel. The kind of angry that took all of her not to laugh. Mira nadamas, Aeriela.  She took a picture of me with her Polaroid, and it’s been on her mirror ever since. Other than that, I never gave her much trouble. Maybe that’s why it was easy to forget about me most of the time.

I saw my yellow house in the distance. My heart was racing, and I was out of breath.

“Mamá!” I barged through the back door and into the kitchen. The house seemed different. It was dark. The plants that once greeted me at the entrance, dead. My house was always welcoming and bright even if the people inside it were not. My mother loves sunflowers, so the kitchen was sunflower-themed. The blinds were shut, dirty dishes piled in the sink, and everything was quiet - not even the sunflower shaped clock ticked.

I heard steps coming from upstairs.

My mother came down in her robe. Her face pale. Her eyes bloodshot red. Mi madre buena. She was almost unrecognizable. My mother was an incredibly beautiful woman. Her beauty demanded the attention of any room she walked in. All eyes on her. Her strong cheekbones and powerful hazel eyes, now plagued by disparity.

  Are those wrinkles?

La Llorona. She walked slowly towards me, one slow step at a time, reaching for me. My mother looked as if she aged twenty years. I was frightened and confused. She dropped to her knees in front of me. Guilt stricken, I got down to my knees and cried, cried for making my beautiful mother cry.

"Dijeron que habías muerto. Que no habiá caso en esperar que tu volvieras.

Mamá.

“Mom, what are you saying? I’m here, mom. I’m here. Look, touch my face. Touch my hair. I am here.” I grabbed my mother’s hands and forced her to run her hands through my hair. She refused. She shook her head like a child refusing to take their cherry flavored medicine that doesn’t actually taste like cherry. She shook her head as if she was trying to catch her thoughts. We cried and held each other on the kitchen floor near the stairway. I could not understand the damage I had done just yet. All I knew is that I wanted to hold my mother like a child. I imagined this was the way she held me when I was a child. I rocked her.

“I’m here. I’m here, mamá.”

 

 

Six Years Had Gone By

 

In my time in The Infinite Oceans, I had been missing for six years on my earth. My mother told me that she waited day and night for me to come home. I knew I couldn’t even begin to explain where I had been this whole time. I tried to offer solace that I was safe and that we would be okay, as if I could make those promises, as if I could undo the damage.I could not look my mother in the eyes. I could not think about the hurt I had caused. To me, it felt like only a night, to her it had been six years, how could this be possible?

“I went to your room once I noticed it was passed 8:30 in the morning, and the coffee maker wasn’t running. Your bed was unmade and empty. I looked all over the house. I went to the trails. I went to the beach. I found your sneakers. I did not find you. They said to wait to see if you’d call, to see if you’d come back on your own. Police speculated you drowned. I told them you could not swim.”

My mother spoke in low, deep voice. This was not the same voice I had known.

What have I done to mi madre buena?

How could I explain to her that I had gone off to another world? How could I make her understand that I never meant for this to happen? The simple answer is that I could not explain to my dear mother what I had been through.

Nasir.

I thought about him, and how I could never return to his world. Maybe I can make him stay in mine because my place was here with my mother. My heart ached for his touch and warm embrace, but my heart ached more for my sad mother. I had to make her better. I had to love her back to life. What story could I feed my mother’s wounds? What story could make any of this better again? I sat in shame. My mother sat next to me, her arms around me. She went on to tell me that the whole city had flyers in hopes of finding me. I was the talk of the town: El Mayo, Texas Girl Mysteriously Missing; Sneakers But No Trace; Girl Lost At Sea; Infinite Oceans Missing Girl.

“I went to The Infinite Oceans, and I prayed. Prayed that she would give me my girl back. I prayed to La Virgen to bring you back to me or to take me with you. I had no reason to live without you.” My mother’s PR firm was taken over by an outside hire, and she never stepped foot in that office again, and that was that. She filled me in on what has happened since I had gone missing. Every so often, she would grab and kiss my forehead and say mi niña princesa. I could not stop the tears from falling. I would catch them in my hand and imagined them floating away and into the Weeping Willow.

There were so many questions left unanswered from both my mother and me. I knew she wanted to know where I had been, and why I looked the same as when she last saw me. I think we both knew it was better to leave them unanswered . At least for now. For now, I wanted to hold my mother, and my mother wanted to hold me. This was all that mattered.

We went to sleep in my bedroom, same as it was when I last saw it.

“I wanted you to come home and find everything as it was.”

Mi madre buena.

She cuddled me to sleep. I did not know how tired I was until she put her arms around me. I was asleep within minutes. No dreams tonight. Just my mother.

 

I awoke to the smell of bacon and pancakes. My mother got up early to make us breakfast.

“No morning run today, just breakfast.

My mother danced around the kitchen listening to her Selena record. It was like it was when Carlos was alive. She acted as if nothing in the world was wrong. I picked up on her energy and danced with her. I had no hips, but made me feel like I had all the curves a woman could ask for. We danced and made pancakes and laughed. This was the first time in a long time that I had felt my mother’s warmth. She was glowing. The kitchen had come to life again. All it needed was a little light - my mother was the little light.

I swirled my mother in circles. Suddenly, it hit me.

Nasir...

“Mamá, I have to tell you something.”

“No, no, it can wait. Come on, let’s dance!”

“No mamá, it’s just that, while I was away I--”

“You went to the Infinite Oceans, yes, yes. Dance with me!”

“But mamá, I not only went to the beach, you see, I met--”

“Yes, yes, you met someone. Now come on, move your hips like this!”

I paused.

“No pero mamá, it’s more to it than that. I have to talk to you.”

“Mija, I know. Your grandfather was from there, too. Now dance! Dance! Like this!”

My mother had gone mad. She began laughing hysterically. Her eyes watered. I was frightened. She had never mentioned my grandfather before ever. That’s the thing about our family, it was limited to just me and her and my awful father with the weird mustache. The thought about asking my mother about her parents never crossed my mind. I knew my family was from Mexico, and that was that. My heart was to my stomach now. I felt I could throw up the bacon and pancakes.

“Mamá, what do you my grandfather was from there?”

Just dance!”

I grabbed her shoulders.

“Mamá, what do you know? Talk to me, please!”

“You should have never gone to The Infinite Oceans,” she said wagging her finger at me.

“Mom, what are you talking about?”

“Those people have no business here. We signed the agreement that they would stay out! Your grandfather was one of them, and he left me your father knowing he would rape and beat me - the coward! That boy you met will do the same. He will! My poor mother died and what does he do? Leaves me behind!”

I allowed myself one brief moment of shock.

“My grandfather is of the Gente Del Mar? Mamá, why didn’t you ever tell me? How do you know of this place?” At this point, the feeling of anger and resentment started to rise, and I hated mother for keeping this from me. She never mentioned any of my family, and only now wants to drop this one me?

Mi madre mala.

“We came to this land as a family, and when my mother died of cancer, he wanted to return to The Infinite Oceans without me. He said he wanted to start new. You weren’t even six weeks in my stomach, and that man decided his world was better than mine. I couldn’t go with him because of you. The universe would not allow a full blooded human into their world. I was only sixteen, mija. He chose to go back to his world and leave me with my abuser! He did not like the idea of growing old and wrinkly - he wanted infinity!”

“But mama! I was there! I visited the Infinite Oceans.” She shook her head aggressively. “Do not be fooled, my child! When you went missing, I knew you found The Infinite Oceans land, but no mi niña came back home to me. People thought I was crazy. Ha! They’re the crazy ones!”

My mother began mumbling to herself, raising her fingers to the sky as if epiphanies struck at every word.

“I knew you had gone to The Infinite Oceans, I knew you would be back. I did not know how long, but I am glad you are here, ” My mother had lost her mind. She went on to explain that no one has made contact with the Gente del Mar since her father left her.

“But, mama, I have to go back. I have to see Nasir. Come with me, mama!”

"La Gente Del Mar don’t care for us!” She wagged her finger at me, again.

I had to get out. I had to make sense of it all.

I ran back to The Infinite Oceans. 

She yelled my name begging me not to leave her, again. I had to get clarity, and my clarity was with Nasir.

Why mother? Why?

 

I ran back to The Infinite Oceans. Neck-deep. I closed my eyes.

I did not want to feel anymore. This was too much. All my life, my mother knew of this place, a place that could have saved us from all the pain in our lives. Is this why I never learned to swim? Some cheap protest to keep me from the water? Then why live and build a business so close to the water? To tease me? To tease your only daughter?

No, I love you. I am angry.

“Beatrice, I am here.”

I felt the weight of my problems disappear at the sound of his voice.

“I can’t go back. I need you to come to shore. Time has passed here. Things aren’t okay. My mother is not okay. I’m not okay.” I was frantic. I could not help but cry.

“There, there. Don't cry. It's okay. Come here.”

We sat on the sandy shore. He held me.

“Breathe with me. Ready? In. Out. Again. In. Out. Good.”

He helped me normalize my breathing. His embrace made everything better. My eyes were puffy, but I was calm enough to talk.

“My grandfather is from The Infinite Oceans. My mom told me he left her here when she was a teenager, with me in her stomach. She says he is a coward. He left us with an abusive man, my father! He wanted to live forever, and she knew she would lose me crossing over to your world. She stayed because of me! I don’t know why I am so angry with her. I just wanted to know her, I wanted her to open up to me the past twenty years - or twenty-six years - or however long I’ve been alive! I begged for her warmth in silence, and she shut me out. Only happy with a man, not her own flesh and blood. She resents me, maybe because she wanted to go with my grandfather, but I weighed her down.” Nasir explained that crossing over was a complicated process that could not be undone. He explained that full-blooded Gente del Mar cannot stay.

“What do you mean you can’t stay?”

“Beatrice, my time here is limited. Look.”

He raised his arms to show his skin losing color and crackling dry.

“Mothers do what they believe is best for their children. She loves you. I think you need to stay.”

There was a long pause. All that could be heard were the waves crashing against the sandy shore. The reality of never returning to The Infinite Oceans and losing my Nasir broke my heart to pieces. How could life be so unfair? How will I recover?

“What’s going to happen to us?”

He lifted my face and kissed me.

“I know of the agreement. We are not allowed passed shore, and our time is limited. If we stay too long, we dissolve. Half-bloods, like your father, can choose to stay. They have the choice to become part of your world, but that means never returning to ours. My parents believed in a long life, not a forever life, but they were full bloods, as am I. It’s been a rising controversy that my people have fought for years. The choice to leave our world. Half-bloods go unnoticed because we are all the same, but we know it when they are able to leave. You see, my parents believed that when two souls love each other, they will find each other in another life, and the one after, and so on. I can’t stay no matter how much I want to, Beatrice, but I know I will find you, again. ”

“I can’t live in your world. I can’t leave my mother. She needs me.”

There was a long pause. This time, it was because we ran out of words to say. I knew I could not keep Nasir. My heart ached. I began to cry silently.

I wish you could stay.

“You have to go to your mother.”

He looked at me with his sad, root beer colored eyes.

“If anything changes in our rules and the gods grant us access, I promise I will come to you.”

“Nasir, I’ll come back to you when the time is right.”

“And we will be happy. Forever.”

“Forever.”

“I wish you could stay here, Nasir.”

His face was losing color, crackling at my touch.

“Go back to the ocean, Nasir! You’re losing your light!”

“You're the light I am losing. I’ll come back for you.”

Hand in hand, we walked back to the ocean.

“I love you.”

“And I love you, Nasir.”

I let go, and the light was gone. I sank to my knees.

I knew I wanted to be with him. Every inch of my body and soul wanted to be with him. He knew me in ways I never knew could be known. Nothing and everything made sense with him, but I could not leave my mother. I rose to my feet and stared at The Infinite Oceans. I knew I would never be able to look at her any other way. Such vast and terrifying beauty. I was in love with her. I was in love with him. I knew what I had to do. My place was in the yellow house, not The Yellow Forest. I am my mother’s daughter, I am my mother's keeper.

“I love you.” I said to him, still looking at the ocean.

I was no longer crying. I must have ran out of tears.

Wait for me.

“I will be here,” I whispered.

I began making my way back to my yellow house.

 I did not run. I walked. I walked slow. With each step, I felt my heart growing heavier and heavier. I wanted to run back into his arms. I needed that embrace. I knew my place was here. I had to make my mother better. She had lost too many people, she had been through too much. She needs me. I never looked back to the ocean. It would have added salt to my bleeding wound. I ached all over. This love was penetrating deep within me, but I could not weigh down the guilt I would feel leaving my mother all alone.

 

Mi madre buena.

 

I entered through the back and into the kitchen. I closed my eyes and wished I could close my ears, too. I did not want to see or hear or even feel. I snapped back into reality and went running for my mother.

I found her curled up next to her dresser.

She smiled up at me. “Look, remember when you cut your hair?”

“Let’s get you into bed, mama.”

I took care of my mother that night and every night after. At some point in our time together, she stopped talking. I did not go to the beach, anymore. I did not run the trails. My only routine was to care for my mother. Even before my mother stopped talking, I was alone. Painfully alone.

 

My Mother Died and That Was That

 

I went into my mother’s bedroom to take her down for breakfast. She was still. For the first time in months, I spoke to her.

“Mamá.”

Silence.

I put my ear to her heart and my hand to her wrist searching for a pulse.

Nothing.

I curled up next to her like I used to do when I was a child and had a nightmare. I did not cry. I simply felt. I regretted never being the daughter she deserved. I regretted resenting her so much. I regret spending so much time in books and out of her way because now I truly was alone in the world. More than anything, I held the biggest regret in my heart, not returning to the Infinite Oceans for my Nasir.  I think I was about sixty years old. I don’t remember. I stopped keeping track of time and birthdays never seemed to matter or even be remembered. Every day, I thought about the love I met at the ocean. Every day, I dreamt of returning.

I am no longer young. I am old. Who’s going to love me now?

 

 

I Returned to The Infinite Oceans; My Mother at Sea

 

I had my mother cremated. I held her ashes in a beautiful gold vase. I made my way to the beach. If I could run, I would have. I walked slowly in my sneakers and met the ocean. I did not take my sneakers off. I walked into the ocean and released my mother’s ashes into the sea. I wished to be the ashes with her. I wished to be at sea.

“You are free.”

I wished to be with Nasir in the land of Infinite Oceans.

I thought about going deeper into the ocean, neck-deep like I used to.

You are too old for that.

I took one last look at the beautiful and terrifying ocean, and that was that. I did not turn to look back at her. From the back of my neck, I knew she was staring at me, calling me to come inside. I think I could have died there, and it would have been okay. I returned to my yellow house, and that was that.

 

 

Dying and Alone

 

Time became more real to me. Years have gone by. The doctors say I am ninety-six. I’d believe them if they said I was one hundred and thirty. I laid and thought about how much I wished to be in The Infinite Oceans. I wondered if heaven would call my name or deny me entry for living such a bitter and cold life. I wish I could say that I took exciting risks and chances in life after The Infinite Oceans. I did not. I did not go to Nasir. I did not make any attempt at making new friends. Margaret was the last friend I can remember having, two if I count her rabbit, Sky. I did not finish college,I stayed at home to take care of my mother. I did not water the plants because they did not grow the way the ones in The Infinite Oceans did. My mother’s keeper is all I had become.I resented her for it. She got a second chance at love with Carlos; where was my second chance? Who would have loved me the way Carlos loved my mother even after all the damage my father caused? Regret and resentment plagued my heart and soul. I am a pity. I could have made friends. I could have watered the plants, and I could have made my world beautiful. I could have loved again. I could have given my mother many grandchildren.

I chose to live a bitter life. My mother was not to blame. I could have made things right. I could have fought for my chance at a real and exciting life. Nothing could change the damage I had done. Living a life of constant redemption. There is no true remedy to a sad heart besides love. Love, above all, makes life worth living. I could have learned to love myself and be truly be free. The love my mother and I shared could have been enough, but I chose to silence her. She did not speak because somewhere along our journey, I stopped responding. I allowed the beauty of another world make mine dark. I was a visitor in the land of Infinite Oceans, but here in my world, I belonged.

 

Here lies Beatrice Aeriela Martinez and her life of regret.

I see a light now.

Nasir, is that you?

 


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