300 Days of Writing
Day 9: Return
Marigolds filled the streets with a musky stench as María’s family wove their way to the cemetery. She could feel the white paint flaking on her cheeks, the gummy adhesive from the pink and teal gems that encircled her eyes. In her hand, a skull candy-coated her painted nails in sugar. María didn’t mind and licked her fingers clean, savoring the sickly-sweet icing.
Her mother held her wrist as they entered the graveyard, darting around a dancing mariachi band. The cemetery was bursting with color, a sea of long-stemmed candles and flowers. Headstones were surrounded by fruits and ornately decorated loaves of bread. María followed her mother through the heavy smoke of burning copal until they stood in front of Grandmother Silvia’s headstone.
“This is a special night,” María’s mother knelt down. “This is the night where the portal between the dead and the living is opened. It’s why we bring them food and light, so they might find their way to us.”
“To play?” María said looking around behind her. The street was alive with music and dancers, costumes and food. Her stomach grumbled.
Her mother smiled and pulled her chin back to look at the grave. “Yes. To play. To love. To be with their family. Isn’t that nice?”
María nodded. The headstones were lovely and she thought if anything could make her grandmother return it would be this night.
“Hello, Patricia,” her mother said as their neighbor wandered towards them. She was old in María’s eyes, but really no more than twenty. She was orphaned and visiting her parents’ graves.
“It’s true, your grandmother should be here very soon.” Patricia clutched the cross hanging around her neck. “They all return.”