April 21, 2019

Maribela

posted on: Friday February 1, 2019

Sophia sailing in a choppy sea at night searching for her sister Mia

Graphic design by Connor Zimmerman ’20

by Jessica Polanco ’20

This morning, the sun was selfless, too selfless and better yet, shining its rays all over our backs without our permission. Mia and I have to walk 25 miles up to the sea to get water and bring it back to our families. These are the duties that the townspeople have to do as citizens and, unfortunately, today is our turn. It is not like I would have preferred any other day to do our duties, but today is special for me. After five years, I finally raised enough money to buy myself a candle.

I am in the middle of a book called El Viaje de las Estrellas, and I am so anxious to find out what happens next and what happens after that. During the day, I work, helping Mami with the chores all around the house and by the time the day is over, the light of the sun is gone. It becomes impossible to read what the pages are saying. Now, with the candle, I can finally read at night. Maribela, from the book, just got lost in the middle of the woods near her town, and I need to know what happens to her next.

“Mia? Do you think we can run to the sea and get back as quickly as possible?” I ask.

Mia looks at me worriedly. “Of course, we can lift our feet and run with the wind that the trees provide. We can close our eyes and—snap!—we pick up the water from the sea and be right on back.” Mia chuckles. “What’s wrong, Sophi?”

“I am in the middle of a book, and I just bought a candle so I can read at night.”

“You need to get your head out of those books, Soph. You get so lost in them and you forget of the world around you. Your head should be here, helping everyone out. This is your book, Soph. Your life. Those books hold nothing for you.”

“Ugh Mia, you’ll never understand. Are you ready? Let’s go.”

One more mile and the sea awaits. I can hear the tiny waves crashing against the shore. It feels cooler near the water and much more peaceful. The language of the sea has always been one of my favorites, after Spanish, of course. I once read that there are moments when it rants loudly enough to envelope the wind, leaving nothing but curiosity in the air. I warn Mia to be careful when we greet it. It sounds like it is in a good mood today, but you never know. The sea does not respect us. Nature expects us to obey whatever it throws at us. If we complain, it will only get worse with the intention of testing our obedience.

Mia sighs—we are both exhausted once we arrive. We sit on a rock by the shore and admire the view. Who knew that the sea could serve as a bed for the mountains? They look so peaceful as they lay under the sky.

Mia breaks me out of my gaze and declares that we must get to work if we want to get back to town by sun down. The barrels we carried here are about to weigh five times more than they did before, only making our journey back home harder. This is what the captain trained us for though, we can handle it. With no more barrels left to fill, Mia and I take another glance at the beautiful view. We wave goodbye with our glares. And, of course, the sea sends its warm regards. It remembers us from our last visit.

Halfway home, the crickets sing their warnings to us, letting us know that the moon is approaching. I also hear another warning and that’s when it happens. Mia’s scream takes over the whole evening. When I look back, all I can see are the barrels rolling down the hill we had just finished climbing, skipping over the branches buried under the ground. Mia is out of my sight and I run towards nowhere trying to find her. I scream her name and all I hear are the birds singing. My heart begins to beat in my throat. “Mia, please don’t lose me,” I whisper into the abyss.

I am running and searching. After what feels like a run across the globe, I find myself back with the sea. There is Mia, screaming for help, in every language she knows. Her voice begins to vanish with the waves of the sea. This is what I cautioned her about. Panic takes over my flesh; I am torn between two friends I know well. Suddenly, Maribela enters my thoughts, and I am reminded of her bravery. She has a father who showed her how to build boats when she was a little girl. Just like me. And that’s when I trust in the skills my father showed me. After years of practice, I build a boat. I sail off into the reflection of the moon on the sea, with the fret of detachment from Mia and the comfort of the waves.

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Short Fiction