A flood began the night Agapa’s husband left. Shutters were torn down from the aggressive vigor of the rain, and the gutters were so filled to the brim with water that Avram slipped and broke his nose on his way to his car. Agapa watched him go from the dripping window, arms folded about the pouch in her lower stomach. A deep, silent pit of agony formed in her soul as she saw the car start up and the wheels turn. The bruise on her left cheek was pulsating like a broken flame, and her bones felt as hollow and weak as a beaten hummingbird. Her three children could be heard stirring about in their cots upstairs from the gallons of rain that pounded against the small home; she felt the child in her belly kick with sweet impotence. The car was gone, and now only the blue and gray light of a sad, watery street could be seen. She touched the burning mark on her face before closing the drapes of the front room and sitting on the small sofa, and a dark shadow cast over her and all the rest in the house who feigned sleep to appease their mother, whose feet were now soaking in the freezing water of the flood.
A few beats of a mat and the loud call of a proud woman, and Aniceta, Clete, Cadmus, and eight year-old Avram came running across the unpaved, gravelly roads to their front lawn. They had just finished planning their robbery of a local bread shop and they were sprinting away not only because of Agapa’s cry that could be heard miles over, but also because the police had caught little Avram (who looked five years older than he was) punching a ghostly homeless man on the curb that liked to give him nasty candy. When the four children–rather, three children and a young lady, as Aniceta was the eldest and only girl–came giggling and panting from their early morning of plotting, their mother responded with her hands on her wide hips and eyes furious. Her hair was pulled up into a thick brown bun, and it was fastened so tightly many times over that if she shook her head it did not move. Her face was dirty and her large body was cloaked in soiled rags she wore at nearly all hours of the day.
“This is what you do?” She would say in that thick accent of hers that made the children shudder whenever they heard it. “I slave all day, and you four go off and play in the city like street rats. Aniceta, you know better than the boys, yes?”
Aniceta hung her head, adjusting her tattered white frock. “Yes, mama.”
Her mother’s hands were still fastened to her hips. “Good, good. Take the boys inside and wash them. I’ll be having none of this as long as I’m on this earth, you all understand?”
Little Avram, wearing socks without shoes and a shirt that went to his ankles, murmured, “Skata na fas.”
Clete and Cadmus, the two twins who had just finished their first year of high school, swooped their youngest brother up and began to carry him into the house. “Come on, Avram, don’t give mama a hard time.”
“You know about her, don’t you?”
“We remember what you told us, but we don’t believe you. Stop squirming, you smell like shit.”
Avram was now fifteen. His siblings had left the house years before his birthday, and it was only he and Agapa in the house. She had baked him a honey cake, but instead of eating it he spat on it and flushed it down the toilet. When she asked him where it was, he told her happily that he had eaten it all.
“Now look at this, do you want to kill me?” She tried to say it in her characteristically, unapologetically brazen voice, but in deep honesty the child scared her. Avram was the only one not born from her former husband Avram, but this child was the most like him.
“No, mama, I love you.”
“I don’t believe you, child. All you do is hurt me.”
Avram smiled. “You shouldn’t have named me after a monster. After all, he wasn’t blood.”
Agapa was horrified. She had never told him a word about his history. “What are you talking about?”
“I saw it. Written on that wall by the train station. It was your name and mine written and another man’s. Do you remember?”
She staggered back. “What did you say, child?”
“The brick wall. Those two words written in a rush, like you two were in love. I found it years ago. I know my real father wrote it because his name looked newer, and the handwriting was hardly faded.”
“You’re speaking nonsense. Hush now.” Her heart was racing.
“I’m only doing what the wall said.”
“You believe me, don’t you, mama?”
“Don’t ‘mama’ me, you bastard. You ruined my cake and you ruined my life. You do nothing but upset me.”
Avram smiled ruefully at his muddy toes. “You live by the words of that wall, mama. I’ll see you tomorrow.” The boy, hands in his pockets and head up, strolled out the back door and disappeared into the sunlit afternoon. Agapa did hear of him again until two weeks later when the police called her and said her youngest son had been shot and killed in a gang shootout by the train station. They told her they were cleaning his blood from the walls.
His translucent figure halted at her door frame. Avram watched his mother sleep with a smirk on his lips. He walked over to her and hovered over her still, sad body. He reached out to touch her face, but the touch of a ghost cannot be felt in sleep.
“Stay rude, mama.” He kissed her cheek.
thank you for reading :))