First Blood

It was a day like any other, but I was abnormally happy. I was around ten years old at the time, and my mom had agreed to buy me a set of ping-pong racquets and ball. I wasn’t so sure who I’d play with, because I’ve never had many friends and the ones I had didn’t have a table for playing it. But I was indeed happy.

 

We had never been a poor family (not rich either), but somehow, in a very subliminar way, my parents had taught me the value of things, both spiritual and material. I knew those rackets had cost money, and I was grateful for what she was doing. She was paying the cashier and I was trying to reach for the rackets behind that tall counter that made me stand on tiptoes. I had my armpits over the counter and my arms cumbersomely arched toward the inside of it, making me look like a lobster hanging from a fisherman’s hook.

Then it happened in the form of a dry, grave thud.

I let go of the counter almost as if jumping from a cliff, and saw my mom lying on the ground. I kneeled beside her and slightly touched her shoulders. “Mom, mom, mom!” I had absolutely no idea what was going on until the blood began flooding out of the back of her head, slowly covering the wood laminate flooring underneath.

I had always thought that blood was red — at least, that’s how they used to look in the movies — but that was instead a black pool of a viscous liquid, more like the hot milk I loved to drink in the afternoons, full of powdered chocolate that would make it thick, dark and yummy. I would probably have eventually noticed the reddish border of the puddle advancing towards my feet, but, at that moment, I was staring at the dark gist of it.

As soon as her head began shaking sideways as if she were being electrocuted and a very low rumbling came from somewhere deep inside her throat, I felt some lady’s hands pulling me and turning me away. With the corner of my eyes I could still catch a glimpse of a bearded man kneeling over her and putting his hands inside her mouth. I didn’t know what he was doing, but I could somehow sense it was for her good.

Then someone gave me my ping-pong rackets and ball.

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