Yael Valencia Aldana | nonfiction | Night Rises From Their Bodies

Night Rises From Their Bodies                            
                                                                                                                 [cw: death]

We live across the street from Holy Rosary cemetery in Brooklyn. The night comes upon the day with a sweet-smelling dankness. The air is rich and smoky, faintly blue and thick. It’s as if the spirits have come out to fill the hot empty air. I wonder where they come from. I imagine them sleeping beneath the ground during the day, curled up in tight balls beneath the shimmering earth. Now they are strut on high-stepping feet. They don’t frighten me unless it’s late at night and I am alone in my room. 

I feel their icy bodies sliding against mine. I feel their cool breath tinged with sweetness.  I don’t want to go with them–Maria, Ave. I say my Hail Marys. My mother tells me never to go with a dead person when I am dreaming, but suppose I am awake? What then? I will figure it out. I am twelve.

Tonight, I watch the spirits come into the night, and I am angry. I sit by the kitchen door, looking through the window into the sky. My mother washes dishes, pretending not to notice me. My face is hot, and I’m trying not to cry. 

Granny is sitting at the table. “Hey,” she calls to me.

I do not notice her.

“What is your name?” she asks.

“Maria,” I mumble.

“You share a name with the queen of heaven. What are you doing moping? Maria would never approve.

“I should be doing more than moping.”

“Don’t get smart. Come here.” She opens her arms.

I move, shuffling.

“Pick up your feet. You’re walking like a toad.”

“Granny, toads don’t walk.”

“You.” She pulls me into her lap. “Come, let’s not think of anger.”

I left some pens in my pocket and ruined most of the laundry. My mother called me a dumb fuck. In my grandmother’s bony lap, I think of the words dumb fuck. They burn hot in my head. I squeeze my eyes to keep the hotness in. I think of Maria’s placid wooden face at our church, her arms outstretched, the wooden lilies at her feet. One time I hid a wildflower in my dress and placed it next to her toes. Sometimes I also give my mother wildflowers, and Granny.

“I’m too big to be in your lap,” I say. 

“You are not.” Granny pulls me close against her.

Mummy turns around. “You two need to stop fooling and get some dinner. It’s ready.”

I can see out the window past her head. It is dark now, an inky dark blue. The spirits follow the darkness into the deepening blackness of night. 

Beeper Peddle is a writer and healer living on the East Coast. She lives with her partner and their beloved soul puppy. Beeper writes about sorrows, lies, and deep loves. When you read her work, you will dip down into her heart and end up in all manner of body parts. Should you find yourself reflected in these words, it is merely coincidence; however, it does not surprise her you share the same heart. Find her at bethpeddle.com and @beeperpeddle on Twitter and Instagram

Yael Aldana is a Caribbean Afro Latinx writer and poet. She earned her M.F.A. In creative writing from Florida International University. Her work has appeared in The Human Prospect and South Florida Poetry Journal, among others. And she is an Associate Editor in Creative Nonfiction at West Trade Review journal. She lives in South Florida with her son and too many pets.