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Story by Ann Walters (Read author interview) December 15, 2004

They showed her into the room where he died. Dios mio, can you believe that? It’s a small clinic, yes, but to put my daughter in the same room, to have her lay on the very table and spread her legs wide right where her Julio died?

His blood covered that table. My friend Dolores, her daughter Trina works at that clinic, cleaning up the filth and the waste, erasing the stains of life and death. She said that room was slick with Julio’s blood, that it seeped into the flooring, penetrated the cracks in the linoleum.

It’s there now, a crust of Julio’s blood under the floor in the room where they put my daughter, Soledad. They wouldn’t let me go in with her. “It’s all right, Mama,” she said. “It’ll be over soon.” When she squeezed my hand, hers was dry and firm. She said it was more important I watch the babies, anyway, and then she walked away into that room, her shoes squeaking over the rust-colored linoleum.

Such good children. Ernesto and Julia played together, and Carolina, bless her heart, sat in a chair the whole time, looking at the pictures in her child’s Bible. She likes the one where Jesus is raising Lazarus from the dead. Her mother says it’s because the Cristo looks like Julio, but I’ve heard Carolina’s prayers in the night when Soledad is out, and I know why she likes that picture. She is alone too much, that child.

I held the baby the whole time, and he never cried, not once. Such an angel. Who would not want another? God knows, it wasn’t my choice to go to the clinic. It wasn’t my decision to put her in that room and let it splash over that table, let it drip out onto that floor and mingle with the dried up sangre of my daughter’s husband.

It didn’t take as long as I expected. Soledad was pale, but she was steady when she came out, and I saw past her, through the open door. Trina was in there, slipping on blood and fluid, erasing with her mop the things we will never forget. Surely she won’t get it all. There are too many cracks in that floor.

About the Author

Ann Walters lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two beautiful daughters. Her fiction has appeared in Quintessence and Gator Springs Gazette.

About the Artist

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison’s work here.

This story appeared in Issue Seven of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Seven

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