Jaoquin would have been 27 today.
I miss him; it hurts. My chest tightens as it tries to keep my heart from escaping, leaping out of me and off to wherever he is. If there is anywhere to be. I just wish the nightmares would stop. Even now, when I shut my eyes, I see him. Sometimes he’s laughing or telling a story. Other times I’m watching him explode and the world turn red as I fall down, pain filling every fiber of my being and I look over to see just parts and I don’t know if that’s my leg or his… Well, Fly doesn’t seem too disturbed by the screams when I wake. Just sits with me and offers a swig of something it would be charitable to call moonshine. At least the burn of it numbs the other pain.
Once, while we were on guard duty, I asked Joaquin if he believed in anything. This was early in our service; we’d been matched but didn’t know yet if we could be a team. So we were on guard duty way out on the edge of nowhere late at night with nothing but stars, river, and trees. Mt. Rainer was hidden in clouds far to the north. So there we were with nothing to do but talk and keep each other from falling asleep. Get to know one another, as the sergeant put it.
Joaquin said the only thing he believed in were Furies and Deevas. I know, it sounds like a joke, right? But he was flippin’ serious. He came from a small farm on the edge of the desert where sometimes things walk out of the ocean of sand looking for supplies. He said they just traded and maybe told a few stories. He said Deevas had wisdom and could answer any question you asked. Said you had to be careful; you might not like the answer and there was no forgetting it once you’d heard it. The Furies knew about war, vengeance, and justice. It was best to lie low if you’d hurt anyone when they were around, even if your crime was committed years ago. Especially then. He told me so many stories that night and many nights to come, like myths of old about gods or something. Maybe that’s what he thought they were.
Though I must say that Fly is a bit lacking in the godhood department. And a bucket water. Who, besides maybe a luckless dying of thirst, is going to worship that? The giant scorpion, on the other hand, well, I can see how ze would put the fear of something into a soul.
Stay safe, little sister.
copyright 2014, Kimberley Long-Ewing
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