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Monday, February 16, 2009

An excerpt from: Luna Negra, Capitulo 1.

Lika López de Victoria

An excerpt from:
Luna Negra, Capitulo 1.

“Santo Dios mio Virgen María de los Angeles!” Paz's squeals hit such a high note that they woke the midwife who was nursing a hangover under an almendro tree four miles away. The sharp wails cut in half the numbing calmness of the Hacienda San Antonio, which was particularly quiet that morning, since eighty percent of the workforce was celebrating on the other side of the Island the Gobernador’s win for a second term as the incumbent. Old Capital City received laborers, dones and señoras from all the haciendas with live music, speeches and kioskos with all kinds of free delicious food, like fried pig skin, shaved ice with dulce de leche, blood sausage and coconut cinnamon custard. Don Antonio, who saw himself as the epitome of fairness, had done a lottery to determine who would have the day off to enjoy the festivities. Luck dictated that Paz stayed working that day. She had been picking coffee overwhelmed by the moist heat of the mid-morning when Luna started to fight her way into life.
“Puta Madre de los Infiernos maldita sea el Diablo!”
The few male workers in the field quickly identified Paz as the source of such obscenities since an unspecified number of them had made her privately scream with desire before she started showing. Rodolfo, the foreman of the hacienda, ran faster than the others towards the animalistic grunts that originated somewhere in the middle of the bushes. All Paz heard were the inconsolable cries of Luna, the noise muted while her belly filled up with salty tears. She wobbled her way through the coffee plants trying to find the closest dirt road, still carrying the bag of ripe pepas de café.
“Aaaaaaaaaagggggggghhhhhhhhhh Santo Dios ayudame” Paz tried to move faster but the thin branches of the coffee bushes lashed her in every step. Each lick of a twig distracted her from the burning pain in between her legs. Paz heard her heartbeat in her eyeballs and the roars of Luna’s struggle in each of her screams. All she could see were green spots with some yellow and red and brown. The sea of matas de café opened as if prompted by Moses and the path led to a tamarind tree, under which Paz collapsed on top of the bag of red coffee beans. It felt as if she was breaking from within as she leaked water that smelled like pig’s blood. Paz’s bony hands and feet sank into the thick swamp that formed from the mixture of dark soil and the gallons of saline-smelling liquid that came out of her. Her insides cramped forcing her to push. On her first push Paz saw the face of the Virgin Mary hiding in the bushes and on the second it was a sweet-faced old lady with stark white hair that hunted her altered state. Then it was Rodolfo’s muscular arms with gray hairs opening their way toward her that gave Paz the strength to push a third and final time, spewing into a mound of coffee beans her baby girl covered in a caul.
“What is that?” Fear assaulted Paz. The thing joined to her through the bluish-red umbilical cord didn’t look like a baby. She had read stories about blood relatives that got married and had babies born with alligator skin or a rat’s tail, so she considered the odds of being related to the baby’s father.
“Go get the doctor or the midwife or a truck, dale corre, some help” Rodolfo ordered a worker, who left in the same direction he came from. With shaky hands he caressed Paz’s forehead, sweeping her wild black hair away from her face. She remembered when she first was introduced to Rodolfo, how she had been intimidated by his stern expression and his shadow-casting height. His dark bushy eyebrows made every crease of his face noticeable, making him look years older than his actual age of thirty-something.
“Niña, don’t worry, I think I hear the midwife’s jeepeta getting close…anda muñeca, take it, that’s your baby." Rodolfo’s caramel-coated voice and the sound of the midwife’s heavy steps making her way through the coffee plants calmed Paz. When the midwife finally arrived to the scene, sweating droplets of dark rum, she found the baby in her mother’s arms still inside the caul. Without hesitation she opened the veil with her chubby fingers revealing Luna, her big chameleon eyes wide open and wearing a wise smile on her pruned face. The midwife took her stained white skirt off in front of the pink-faced mother, the worried foreman and the few workers that gathered to take in the event, and placed it on the moist soil between the mother’s legs. She grabbed Luna away from Paz and placed her cautiously on the skirt.
“Give me your machete!” the midwife yelled at the foreman. Rodolfo jumped, and before he could comply she snatched it from his grasp. Taking the machete with both hands, she raised it over her head to gather momentum and in one swift motion she cut the umbilical cord. As the whiteness of the skirt absorbed the bright red blood, Luna, who so far since entering this dimension had not shed a tear or made a sound, quietly cried ginger smelling tears.

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