Tía María’s face fell down on a hot July day while she changed clothes in front of a window fan. Abuela called and I could hear her frantic voice over the phone as I stood close to Mami. We rushed to the subway. I was five so I imagined we were going to Tía María’s apartment to help pick up the pieces of her face and put them back in the right spots. I touched my nose, mouth, eyes. It would be funny to mix everything up. Mami cursed the heat, the subway, the city.
The doctor used the word droop when talking about the right side of Tía María’s face. But in Spanish things don’t droop. They fall down. And that’s how it looked to me – eye, cheek, mouth all fallen down, down.
“Can you not smile at me, Titi?” I asked.
A tear ran down her paralyzed cheek.
Abuela blamed it on the fan because cool air on a hot body is dangerous. She also believed night air was full of diseases and that people could make you sick with the evil eye.
Mami wanted to know where that bastard Hector was. Hector was Tía María’s husband and a minister.
“He is down in the Bowery saving the souls of whores just like Jesus Christ did,” Tía María said.
“He is a man of God,” Abuela said. “He will pray and María will get better.”
The doctor looked at us in a way that made me think he did not like us much. It made me sad. “Have you experienced any recent head injuries?” he asked.
“Like being pushed out of a moving car?” Mami said.
“I slid when Hector made a sharp turn,” Tía María said.
“Or being shoved down a flight of stairs?” Mami said.
“She tripped. Always so clumsy,” Abuela said.
“And how about being knocked to the floor?” Mami said. Then she raised her hand before anyone could speak. “Oh, yeah... sure. You fainted.”
Abuela caressed her daughter’s ruined face. “It was the fault of the fan. Cool air on a hot body can be deadly. Hector is a man of God. He will pray and María will get better.”
Mami cursed. The doctor left. And I prayed that my Tía María would someday smile at me again.
Sandra Cimadori was born in New York and grew up in South Florida in a multilingual home. She graduated from Florida State University. She teaches and writes, dividing her time between North Carolina and Florida. Visit her online at: www.sandracimadori.com
FLASH GLASS: A MONTHLY PUBLICATION OF FLASH FICTION, PROSE POETRY, & MICRO ESSAYS
Cover Image: "A Peaceful Coexistence Part II"