Revelers dressed in bright colors, cavorted through the graveyard. Dia De Los Muertos was a happy event. A time where one celebrates relatives who had passed on, but no joy buoyed Rafaella’s heart.
She’d swept Papa’s grave clean of leaves and twigs. She kneeled beside his headstone, her tears a small waterfall of misery. “She suffers, Papa,” she moaned. “I cannot afford the medicine anymore. That bastard, Toro de Oro tells everyone to deny a job for me, and they must. They are all afraid of him. He only wants me for one thing. I can’t do that, Papa. It’s vile!” She collapsed in a heap upon the grave, sobbing. “Help me, Papa. Please!”
As night fell and the moon rose high, Rafaella sobbed herself to sleep.
Slipping through the dark blankets of slumber, she fell, spinning into the void. Panic began to grip her, and then she opened her eyes.
The sun shined upon sheep, grazing on rolling green hills amidst flowering Dogwood trees. The man sitting beside her wore a familiar vest and fedora, but it was his over-large nose and twinkling eyes that gave him away. “Papa!” Rafaella cried, and she hugged him tightly.
Salvador Molina returned her hug, then appraised her at arms length. “It’s good to see you pajarita.”
“Is this Heaven, Papa?”
“Yes and no, my child.”
“Are you not happy?”
“I am, but also sad. You see, I have never really left you, but illusions in life hide this. There is happiness here, but I see your sadness. In life, there is confusion and sorrow. Few understand the illusory nature of the world. It causes much unnecessary pain and suffering.”
“I know, child. No medicine can help her.” Rafaella began crying again. Salvador held her close. “Don’t worry pajarita. She’ll feel no pain anymore with me.”
“But I’ll be alone! And that monster, Toro de Oro, he wants me to…”
“Yes. About that puta, Hector, his strength is more illusion than reality.”
“But he controls the mine, the stores, the train. He owns everything, even the people.”
Salvador’s eyes twinkled. “Hector Cabrera’s castle is made of sand. You must be the sea. Let me show you something.”
Rafaella awoke in the drifting mists of dawn. Could the dream be real? Is it true? She walked past stone angels to a tree, its limbs barren of life. She touched a dry branch, and suddenly held a delicate blossom in her hand where none existed a moment before. The tree, she knew, was not dead and its blossom had never withered away. She now saw the world with new eyes that pierced the veil of reality’s illusions. Salvador had taught her how the world really worked.
Things were going to change.
Rafaella’s sundress shone brilliantly in the morning sun. Her silver high heels clicked as she stepped onto the marbled floors of Toro de Oro’s sprawling mansion. Hector’s four guards, armed with AK-47 assault rifles, saw and heard nothing. A touch from Rafaella’s delicate fingers and none of them could remember her passage. She was nothing more than mist, illusion’s shadow to them. They never saw the stack of legal documents she carried, nor the expensive pen she would have the documents signed with. They sensed only what Rafaella permitted.
Perhaps it is best they had no memory. What trauma would they know if they heard the screams of Toro de Oro for three hours? Screams that shattered glass in the room inside. Screams that sounded like a man being slowly chopped into pieces.
“Muy bueno!” gasped Director Soares as the beautiful woman in finery walked past him.
“That’s Rafaella Molina,” said Doctor Azarola. The pair watched her climb into her Jaguar limousine. “She visits once a month.”
“A donor for the asylum?”
“She runs two orphanages and a school,” countered Azarola.
“Who does she visit?”
Azarola led the Director to a patient’s viewing window. “She’s not related to Hector Cabrera, but still sees him regularly.”
The bedraggled man inside rocked forlornly side to side in a wheelchair, his right arm hanging limply. He whimpered with despair as he gazed at his left hand, horrified eyes agonizing over his appendage.
“He believes his legs and right arm have been sheared off, and his hand is nothing but bone,” explained Aquino. “Yet his body is entirely intact.”
“What caused such a mental break?” wondered Soares.
Azarola shook his head. “A terrifying illusion in his mind.”
Toro de Oro means: Golden Bull
Pajarita means: Little Bird
Written for Grammar Ghoul Press. This week’s media prompt was an animation depicting a heart-warming story about Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This week’s word was, “Void.” Look here for more stories based upon the prompts: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-4-open/