In the air, boosted by an incredible jump from the trampoline, he felt like he could float forever.
He liked to come crashing down, back first, then propel himself with his elbows until he was up on his feet again. Maybe he'd jump in place awhile, maybe he'd spin, regardless he'd feel free.
Okay, okay, this time I know what to do.
He crashed back, pushed himself up, gained some momentum with a quick jump in place and then launched himself into the air, flawlessly into a perfect front flip.
He celebrated with some quick jumps in place, arms outstretched in victory.
As he motioned himself downward, landing legs criss crossed, he sighed with a hint of sadness.
I wish someone had been here to see that.
Sure he could tell the kids at school, maybe his friends, but would anyone really care? Besides, the school year was nearly over.
He was facing down 2 months of boredom, stuck at the house with a father who was never there and a quiet mother who mostly kept to herself.
2 months of TV and video games.
Other kids may have been excited by the thought, but not Tenoch. He wasn't able to express it, but a feeling of emptiness often came attached to those activities for him.
He wanted more. He dreamed of more.
More never came, however.
He felt trapped. Like an animal at the zoo.
He thought of the lions that he had seen. He had even dreamed of them occasionally.
A restrictive cage placed around them, no one else to turn to other than to sit quietly in shadowed areas and hope for the best. Restless.
He had cried when seeing them, his mother thought they had frightened him but it was more.
He felt bad for them. On a level he didn't even really understand.
Seeing them there, trapped. He thought back on them often. In times like these, he knew he was the lion. His house during the summertime was his cage.
Ten years old and already an existential mess.
But aside from the lions, he dreamed of other things, other people.
He didn't know anything about them, not even what they looked like. All he had were names.
Brothers he had never known. It was a frustrating feeling, knowing they were out there, somewhere.
And yet, he didn't know them.
His father never said much about them, his mother even less. The only thing his father ever mentioned was that they didn't get along.
He never pressed about why.
Deep down, he knew. He knew how his father was. How he could get. Cold, annoying, sometimes mean. He liked to tease in a way that made Tenoch uncomfortable. Inappropriate jokes, getting Tenoch to play fight.
It always bothered him.
Maybe it bothered my brothers too. Maybe that's why they didn't talk to him.
The word clouded any thoughts about his brother. Maybe this, maybe that.
Everything about them was a big, fat maybe.
Nothing about them was solidified in his thoughts. It was all just...unclear. Unknowable things.
What's their favorite color? What kind of music do they listen to? Do they like scary movies too?
He brushed his shaggy hair out of his eyes and rolled over to the edge of the trampoline, lowering himself off of it.
Lanky legs dangling off the side, he landed softly. Bare feet upon the grass, he made his way to the back door.
Inside, his mother was sitting on the couch, watching her afternoon novelas.
A character on screen was screeching at her presumed husband over an affair. She slapped him across the face as Tenoch's mother nodded her head in approval.
Tenoch walked past her, not a word spoken, over to his room. Although the house was his cage, his room was his nice shadowed area where he was allowed rest.
It got boring being inside all day, but he wasn't allowed out of his house's perimeter unless a parent accompanied him.
Again, his cage.
Wall to wall drawing plastered his room. He wasn't what you'd call an artist, but it was nice hanging up things he had made.
There was an air of comfort to being surrounded by your own creations.
He ran his fingers along them all. He liked the flickering sound they made.
Behind a drawing of his house was a secret drawing.
He lifted up the front page to reveal it. Four figures standing together. At the top of the page he had written a single word.
His mother had told him it was the Spanish word for brothers. He didn't quite have a grasp on the language, but he liked the way it sounded.
I wonder if my brothers know Spanish.
He let the page flap down, covering up the hermanos.
Over to his bed, he slammed down onto it, legs aching from all the jumping.
He liked the way his body felt when he was tired. Almost like he could melt into a slumber.
He closed his eyes contently and felt his head grow heavy.
Swirls of color radiated against the darkness of his eyelids.
One last week of school.
One more week until the summer.
The butterflies in his stomach felt confused. Was it excitement? Worry?
He didn't like school, but he wasn't ready for summer. He wasn't ready to feel trapped for 2 whole months.
2 and a half, even!
What am I gonna do with all that time?
He wasn't allowed to have friends over, he wasn't allowed to leave the house, so then what was there to do?
Be stuck in his cage all day? Restless like those lions were?
The feeling in his stomach intensified.
This time he was able to tell for sure.
He was definitely worried.