- Vol. 04
- Chapter 11
Mexico City September 2017‘You must come,’ his sister had said. ‘You’re the eldest now. The most senior. The family need you.’
So Mateo left his goats and sheep on the summer pastures up in the mountains. Miguel took in his dog and promised to keep an eye on the livestock.
‘It’ll only be for a few days. You know how it is with family. A new baby. Celebrations. Tradition.’
‘It’s expected,’ replied Miguel, waving farewell.
Taking his few coins and a handful of the windflowers his sister loved, Mateo trudged down into the dusty, noisy city. The family was pleased to see him and despite himself he enjoyed the visit. There was good food, plentiful wine, laughter with old friends and distant cousins. He was introduced to his great niece - his sister’s first grandchild, a new generation. A blessing for their family.
The full house made it easy for him to slip out in the evening, to find a spot where he could sleep beneath the stars, where he could pretend to be on the mountain pastures, his dog at his side. Which is how he came to be asleep in the square in the shelter of an old pine when the earthquake struck. when the ground shuddered and the buildings crumbled.
Now he sits beside the prickly pear, his scarlet blanket wrapped around him and the dreaming baby. The rest have all been accounted for, pulled lifeless from the rubble. Only one body remains; the rescuers say they will recover Mateo’s sister tomorrow, but for now their priority is to care for the living.
His too. He and this small mewing infant, they are the oldest and the youngest, all that is left of their family. And as he cradles his niece, he wonders what will become of them.