Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
Visiting My HeritageThe first time I remember going there was when I was about six years old. We didn’t arrive until late, after the sun went down, and the coquís were out. The coquís were the little green frogs that you could hear when the dark overtook the land. They were often treated as an American would treat a cricket- a wonderful background noise that you never noticed unless you tried to. My dad would drive through the curvy dark road, a road that was only wide enough for just over one car in most parts and that climbed up the mountains so subtlety that the height change went unnoticed until you were suddenly touching the clouds.
Years later I came back to Puerto Rico. The roads were still there, but this time, I remember it being daytime. Cats and dogs would be arbitrarily in and out of the road, begging at the side for food along with a few stray Puerto Ricans. This was normal though, and the banana trees that grew in the rainforest would provide for them. No one owned the banana trees by the waterfalls. There was a lot of communal land in Puerto Rico, and the waterfalls were one of them. People would be swimming there all the time, children, mother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather… They all lived to a great age where they would sit on their farm with sun-dried skin that glowed in the dusty living room. That was my great-grandfather. Over ninety years old, he only spoke Spanish, and so we would converse.
The last time I went to Puerto Rico, my great-grandfather was very ill. We went specifically because his lungs weren’t functioning, his eyes roamed the room in dangerous spurts of energy. I never saw him there, in that hospital. They wouldn’t let us in, the inhumanity, the government. But days later, he was in his dusty living room. He had had a stroke, nothing more, nothing less, and he sat on his bed in agony. He was stubborn, though, and refused to stay at the hospital. He didn’t want to live his last days in some strange room. And the ironic part was, he got better. He is now with us in Wisconsin, where we can keep an eye on his struggling health.
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