- Vol. 04
- Chapter 11
Image by Alberto Garduño
HandmadeThe nights can be cold here; that's why I made the blanket. After dark, when the frost begins to creep along the meat of the cacti, we usually retreat indoors and warm our fingertips by the fire.
But tonight is special. Tonight is end of dia de los muertos, the day of the dead.
I spent all morning setting up our family altar – arranging the flowers, framing the photographs, cutting up the paper decorations – and all afternoon kneading the pan de muerto and stuffing the tamales. When the time came to light the candles, my hands were trembling. But they would have trembled anyway, this year, with the newest photograph on the altar.
I made the blanket months ago because I knew I would be cold. Knew we would linger out in the street after returning from the graveyard, drinking with the neighbours and toasting the deceased long into the night. Last year, when we finally went back indoors, I was chilled to the bone. So, not this year.
Back in spring I dug out a woollen dress that belonged to my mother. I found the end of the thread and unravelled it, then rolled the ravellings up into balls. In summer I took out my needles and began to knit the wool into something new. Just a simple rectangle, one colour with a few stripes; I am not very skilled. The blanket was finished by autumn, so I folded it carefully and tucked it under the bed until the festival.
We went to the graveyard this evening. Left our offerings and sang our songs. When we came home the party was waxing, out in the street. The tequila did nothing to warm me. Eventually, while the men raised another toast, I managed to slip into the house to fetch the blanket. But when I reached under the bed, the blanket was gone.
HandmadeI looked everywhere. Just as I was about to throw up my hands in despair, I spotted it. A flash of colour through the doorway. My husband outside, wrapped in the blanket, a hand emerging from its folds to bring a glass of tequila to his lips. I went out and touched him on the arm.
“Raúl, I made this blanket for the festival,” I said.
“Sí, thank you. It is very warm.”
My fingers lingered on the fabric they had worked for months.
He is sitting there now, beneath the reaching cactus, as the celebrations sputter and the night grows chill. He has enveloped himself in the blanket, buried himself in it up to his chin. Hasn't even tucked in his toes, like he's flaunting the warmth of it.
I am cold. I feel like one of those corpses we sang songs over this evening. If he looked over his shoulder he would see me shiver. But he doesn't. I sit and wait.
Next year, I will make another blanket.