I set my cup down and tell Mom I don’t want any grapes this year. She says to think of them as prayers if I don’t want to make wishes. She says, Sin miedo, He’s listening. She says, ¿Qué pasa? and eats her first grape, wishes for a happy family. Nada, I say, I’m okay. Mom chews and swallows her second and third grape. Wishes for good health and better finances because God knows they’re running low even if she won’t say it. ¿Seguro? Fourth grape is a wish for food on the table. Seguro. And the fifth for a roof over our heads. Any roof. The blue roof we’re under now is fine. Mom says it’s fine, but we search for other places. Sixth is a wish for less snow this winter. It was snow that made the spark. I don’t house hunt with them anymore. When Mom asks why, I call it laziness. She says, No, something is wrong. ¿Por qué? I say I ate too much. We both know that’s a lie, so I say, Even if He is listening, ¿why would He care? I prayed too many times to be taken back to the house. I prayed my body be the fire instead. No digas tonterías. He’s always listening. Then my prayer was apology. Forgive me, I said. Forgive me for not being inside the house. To Mom, I say, ¿Why would He listen? She says, I hate when you get like this. Seventh: a sane son (worded as, I wish mi hijo would stop overthinking.) I’m afraid to look back whenever I leave our new house. Eighth: patience. But I look back every time. I couldn’t forgive myself if I missed this fire too. Ninth: love. I’ll never tell Mom how often I dreamt, both asleep and awake, of our new house burning down. She says, You know you can trust me, right? I’ll never say I prayed for it whenever I was home alone. Tenth: another year of life. Yes, I say, I know, I’m grumpy because I’m tired. I’m always tired or just joking. Fires are something to laugh about. It’s funny how fast they steal it all away from you. Funny how this thief dies in the act and leaves its ashy body behind. For you to find. For you to bury. Mom’s eleventh wish might be for functioning fire alarms, or maybe pouring rain, or maybe for the basement we left behind to sprout like a tree. I apologize to her and say I’m okay. For her, I grab my cup of grapes. She says, I love you. I’m certain Mom’s last wish is to wake up to a day that only knows fire as a bad dream. I stuff down all the grapes and wish for the day to end twelve times.
Moisés R. Delgado has a BA in psychology and English and a BFA in creative writing from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. His prose appears in Passages North, Polaris Literary Magazine, and The Flat Water Rises: An Anthology of Short Fiction by Emerging Nebraska Writers. Physically he resides in Omaha, but in mind Moisés is dancing on the moon.
Artwork by: Simple Insomnia