Its life was a black confine. From the moment it vomited forth from the Tierra earth mother, it did not know freedom. It dwelled in a seed pod, germinated in the UnderGround and placed in a receptacle of clay. It was but one of an ancient tribe, some would know as the Chullachaqui.
When it would emerge from its shell, it would be noticeable by its mottled grey skin, tapered ears, offset and backwards pointing feet. Yet it would not even attempt to walk for its life was an EarthBorne capsule. And now the young being must suffer even further indignity as its womb was wrapped in a tassled, kaleidoscopic carapace and made to rattle amongst confectionary sweets. And there it waited and gestated amongst the warm clay and the sweet treats.
“Swing harder, mijo!” Ana cried happily.
Her young son staggered about blindly and took another mighty swing with his reed. A loud crack! The cartoon burro burst from high above and rained down sweets and candies amongst a throng of jubilant children. Ana laughed and clapped as eight year old Raul dashed into the fray, eagerly scooping at the treasure he had so proudly unleashed. Candies and caramels and chocolates and one lumpy green ball of taffy that looked particularly delicious.
The birthday celebration was a grand day, filled with laughter and love. It was precisely what the mother and son needed after the untimely loss of the man in their lives. And yet Ana managed to work hard, proud to provide for her boy and to provide fresh pastries and bread from her own Panaderia bakery.
After the festivity had ended, Raul asked his mother: “Mama, can I have some of my candy?”
“Just ONE! And don’t try to sneak a second piece, El Cucuy is watching!”
Raul didn’t believe in El Cucuy, he thought it was a silly fairy tale. He pondered why his mom would try to scare him with a boogeyman story. He pondered this as he ate his caramel candy. Of course, he DID sneak his second treat, that odd little green sugar ball. He scrunched up his face as it tasted a bit sour but he was pleased with his successful deceit as he swallowed it whole.
Ana had always been proud of how she had managed to scrape by. Now more so than ever although her savings was dwindling from the exorbitant medical bills. She sighed across the dinner table at her boy. She was a proud mama and it hurt her heart to see him limp to the table, small legs encased in wire and steel rods. It had began shortly after his eighth birthday; he had complained about his legs hurting. She chalked it up to growing pains but the day that Raul fell at school was the day she learned that her boy would have limited mobility for the rest of his days.
The doctors could not pinpoint what had triggered the weakening and distorting of his leg and hip bones. And now, as she started across her chicken mole at the boy, he started back with a most unusual look across his nine year old face.
“Mijo, are you…OK?” She asked. He hadn’t touched his favorite meal.
The boy nodded and asked if he could be excused. She quietly obliged and let the boy hobble to his feet and out of the room. He was a prideful child and the doctors advised her to only offer help when he truly seemed to need it. Against her strongest maternal instincts, she obliged this request as well. Ana sighed once more.
The next day was a fruitful one. The bakery was bustling. She was a well loved figure in the community and the locals enjoyed her wares and enjoyed supporting her family. On this day, late October, she rolled out the dough for the batch of casket shaped pastries for the forthcoming Dia de los Muertos rush. Raul hobbled in through the door.
“Raul, honey, go play outside, OK?”
She didn’t want him to be knocked aside from the hustle and bustle of the shop. As if on cue, a patron bowled over a display with a resounding crash.
“Dios…” She sighed under her breath and hustled off to tend to it.
Nobody noticed what happened next. Nobody noticed Raul duck under the counter. Nobody noticed his tapered ears, the grey scabs forming on his face. Nobody noticed nor heard him expunge a torrent of brackish slime into his own hand. And nobody certainly noticed him remove a small seed pod from his mess, stand up and drop it on the exposed dough.
Ana, however, noticed what a good helper her son was. She returned from the spill to see the boy rolling the dough with a proud smile lighting up his young face.
“Ohh, my boy, thank you for helping! Why don’t you go play with your action figures and I’ll make you something special for lunch later,” she said.
“OK, mama,” he said.
She caressed her son lovingly. She frowned as her hand brushed a scaly patch on his face. Must be eczema, she noted and reminded herself to ask his doctor during their next visit. Raul toddled off, braces creaking. He turned and smiled at his mom. She smiled back.
Then she rolled up the dough, inserted it into a crust with some filling and tossed the whole concoction into the oven.
Its life was a black, warm confine. Yet in this hive of sweet fruit, dough and sugar it flourished. It did not know freedom but it yearned to live. The seed pod embedded in the pastry held the next lineage of the EarthBorne, those known as the Chullachaqui. And here it would wait and gestate, waiting to be borne unto the next who would come seeking something
Sweet and warm.