There are two types of people: Those who think four decades are a damn long time and those for whom two score of years pass in a blink of one’s eye.
The grandparents, two living relics of an age long gone trying their best in a foreign world. First sister smiles brightly like only an innocent child can but the pain of losing her parents is oh so fresh. The second sister is an adult woman in a young girl’s body with a mind warped by magic and years of loneliness, now she faces the challenges of ruling a nation. The boy who one fateful day has lost everything he cherished the most: his family, their love and his freedom.
Who has lost the most? Whose smile covers deeper wound?
Loss and Grief
“Mama! Mama! I have to show you something!” Isabel ran down a hall to her parents’ chambers to brag about her new invention. When she opened the door she saw a different room than she expected. It was empty. The realization hit her like a carriage with panicked horses. She sat on the floor weeping.
“She isn’t here, is she?” she sniffs and turns around to face a kind faced short plump woman that entered the room after her. “Shh, Isabelita, don’t cry, it’s going to be alright,” Louisa pulled the child on her feet and onto her warm bosom. She was giving Isabel her napkin when she heard footsteps.
“What is-“ chancellor Esteban stopped himself when he saw his grandmother comforting his younger cousin. Louisa hastily dried up her own tearing eyes with her hand to ease the awkward situation: “Hola, Estebanito, you’re up so early. Isabel, what did you want to tell your parents about?” When the little girl told them about her new idea – it wasn’t built yet but she drew blueprints already – her tears slowly dried up and her eyes began to glow. Louisa didn’t understood half the words the small genius said but she felt immensely proud at her. Even Esteban listened carefully and his notes helped Isabel figure something practical she overlooked in her childish zeal. Then she went off to fetch her sister Elena.
When the two adults found themselves alone, Louisa turned to her grandson suddenly unsure of herself: “Esteban, do you know where Valeria and Hernando are buried?” He hesitated: “I do but it’s not a nice sight.” “Still I have to see it.” He nods: “As you wish, abuela.”
They had to ride for two hours to a remote place, then walk through a forest with an escort made from a group of royal guards. Esteban supported his frail grandma but even though he asked if she isn’t tired she insisted she can keep on going. Finally they arrived to a spot where three small lumps of ground ended in a smallest of valleys. The nature’s floor was covered with a blanket of dried up branches and needles.
Esteban ordered the men to keep watch and when he and his granny had a bit of privacy he said: “She didn’t want anyone to know where they are. It was hard enough to get her to tell it to me alone.” Shuriki prevented anyone to celebrate the late monarchs as martyrs. “I didn’t dare to move their remains or build a proper tombstone here for she might have done something to avenge her pride,” he admitted feeling ashamed. He loved his aunt and uncle and he hated for them to be forgotten but Shuriki was whimsical in the worst possible way, she could have easily threaten to burn a village if she got paranoid of the possibility an uprising is brewing somewhere.
They stood there in silence for a while. Then Esteban noticed the streams of wetness on Louisa’s cheeks. “Come abuela, it was a long walk for you, you must be tired.” But the short lady shook her head. “No, it’s good. I had to say goodbye to my little girl,” The old woman tried taking deep breaths and talking with a tight chest. “We have to decide together with the girls what are we going to do but before we get to discuss it,” she couldn’t bring herself to say the word funeral, “I’d like to ask you to send a bouquet of flowers here, maybe let someone build a little cross.” “Of course,” promised Esteban.
Then they went back home, Louisa was clutching Esteban’s hand the whole ride.