It is noon when I finish my chores; the sun is high in the sky, bearing down on me. I am soaked from head to toe in sweat and dirt from farm work. I walk up to the outside wash bin, turn the water, wash my hands and face. I go to the back door, kick off my boots and leave them outside. I know I should be rinsing them off and bringing them in. The last time I left my boots out, they got stolen from the street kids. My mother yells from the kitchen, and before I can get into any more trouble, I pick up my boots and bring them in. I jaunt towards the kitchen, where I notice my mother and older sisters. They are busy cooking Spanish rice, churros, tortilla and making sangria to wash it all down with.
“Are you finished with your chores?” My mother asks in a stern voice.
“Yes, Mami,” I walking over to the fruit bowl.
“What about your schoolwork?”
“I finished early this morning,”
“Good.” My mother says, not turning to look at me.
“Did you need any help here?” I ask as I pick up a peach.
“No, you can go and do your studies. You will be getting married in a couple of years.”
“Yes, Mami,” I say, rolling my eyes.
“Don’t you dare roll your eyes at me, young lady. It is our law,” My mother says, not turning around. How? I thought as I headed towards the stairs.
“If you are thinking about showering, I would wait until later. Once everything is in the oven, I will need to cool down.” I try not to show any disappointment on my face at having to wait until I got clean.
“I have made enough food for your dinner. Your father and I will not return until late tomorrow morning. Your bother Jesús is in charge.”
“Yes, Mami,” I reply.
I go to my room on the second floor at the back of the house. I go over to my desk, pull out the chair and sit down. I pick up my book I am currently reading: Eva Luna by Isabel Allende. I open the book, take out my bookmark, and I’m about to go into the world of Eva Luna when my phone beeps. I look around for it and see it in the reflection of my mirror. My phone is on the bedside table. I hate being interrupted when I am reading. I sigh, put my book down and walk over to my phone. Ramiro’s name flashes across the screen. I pick up my Alcatel android and press on Ramiro’s name.
Ramiro: I was wondering if you would like to join me on this beautiful evening.
Me: Join you for what?
Ramiro: watching the sunset by the river.
Me: Sounds romantic.
Ramiro: This might be the only chance we have while both of our parents are at the new moon festival.
Me: I am not sure if I want to risk going out tonight. Not with the drug leaders ruling the streets. I reply, playing hard to get. Nothing scares me, especially when I am with the man I love.
Ramiro: I can bring food.
Me: I have food here.
Ramiro: Please, beautiful, I can bring you your favourite chocolates.
Me: Keep talking.
Ramiro: I have freshly cut watermelon, papaya and mangos. I have churros.
Me: You had me at sunset :)
Ramiro: Great, I will meet you at the edge of town.
Me: I should be able to sneak away.
Ramiro: Let me know if you can’t manage to escape, and I can try sneaking in.
I hear someone going into the shower, and I pray that it is my mother. I go back to my desk and read until my mother yells up to me, calling me down.
Our parents leave at five, the four of us watch as they get into the car and drive off. I turn to get ready for my date tonight when my brother clears his throat, causing me to turn around.
“We are having a small party of our own before your sister is to be married. Since you are underage, you need to stay in your room and not say anything to our parents.”
“I am going out,” I say, grinning at my brother.
“No, you are not. I will not allow it.”
“You will if you want me to keep my mouth closed.” Jesús’s eyes darken; when I meat his glaze, I don’t back down or flinch. We have a standoff, each of us waiting for the other to back down.
“Fine, you can go,” he says at last.
“Thank—,” I start to say, but I am cut off.
“You can only be out for two hours.” I pause, wondering if I should argue about wanting more time but decide against it.
“Right,” I say, smiling and then turning around and going back into the house before my brother can change his mind. I run up the stairs, grab a clean towel from the closet and go to my room to shower.
My phone beeps just as I am stepping out of the shower. I grab the towel, wrap it around my body and pick up my phone.
Ramiro: Do I have to climb through your window?”
Me: Calm down, Romeo, I can sneak away. ;)
I put the phone down, pick up my brush and run it through my hair. When I go out of my bathroom, I can hear laughter from downstairs as my sibling’s party starts. I go to my closet, open the door and take out my favourite black shirt and red skirt. I put them on, tie up my hair, grab my bag, lipstick and black sandals. I fix my pillows to make it look like I am lying in bed sleeping. I put my shoes on and make my way downstairs. The music hits my ears; I spot my siblings with their friends in the living room; they are too busy chatting and laughing. I quickly walk to the front door, hoping no one saw me. I start running, going past my favourite restaurant Sayda, to the edge of town, to the love of my life. Ramiro wore a red button-down cotton shirt over a pair of dark jeans; on his feet, he wore a pair of hand me down black sneakers, his shaggy jet-black hair is brushed over his right eye. He smiles as I approach.
“Te ves muy bien Aisha/ You look beautiful.” He presses his lips together as if suppressing a smile. Ramiro never liked smiling much, especially if it required him to show off his teeth. He has a gap at the side, and one of his front teeth is slightly longer than the others.
“Gracias guapo/ Thank you, handsome,” I say. Ramiro adjusts the collar of his shirt and glances away with a shy smile on his lips. I smile back at him and give him a quick hug. Hand in hand, we make our way to Tikal national park and to the river. Ramiro had a backpack on. We walk past our famous temple Tika down to Biririk Nimia, translating to the river’s roar. Ramiro puts his bag down on the ground and pulls out a blanket; he lays it down by the riverbed. We both sit down. In silence as we look out towards the river and beyond.
“I have all of your favourites,” Ramiro says as he leans back and grabs the backpack. I watch as he pulls out containers of food.
“This looks delicious.”
“Anything for you, my love,” he says, smiling. Ramiro hands me a fork, and I pick up one of the containers with a churro.
“Thank you for this,” I say as I take a bite.
After a while, I have to shift my position, so my legs do not fall asleep. I watch as Ramiro pulls out more containers that have fruit inside.
“Too much food, I do not think we can finish it all,” I say, giggling.
“Don’t worry; what we don’t finish, I will take it with me,” he says, smiling. I open the container with the watermelon inside.
“So, what did you do today?” I ask him as I put a watermelon slice into my mouth. The juice tastes so sweet, I feel satisfied.
“Either than graduation, I went to the market with my mother.”
“You graduated today? Why didn’t you tell me? I would have loved to come and see you walk across the stage.”
“You would have hated it; it was hours until they got to me. Besides, you are going to be graduating this year.”
“I would have liked to have been there for you.”
“Do not worry, love. I will be there for yours.” He says, leaning forward and kissing my left cheek.
“What did you buy at the market?” I ask, changing the topic away from school.
“My dad wanted us to go and buy some corn. Our crops have not done so well this year,” He says, reaching into his bag and bringing out a present. My eyes move to the gift and then back up to Ramiro, who is smiling at me.
“This is for you,” He says, handing me the gift.
“You are a couple of days early. My Quinceañera is not until Friday.”
“I know, but I want to give this to you in private.”
“Thank you,” I say as I take the gift and open it to reveal a green velvet box.
“What is this?” I ask as my heart picks up speed at the sight of it. Could it be a ring? No, it can’t, be we are still young. I think to myself as I open the box to reveal a dark green heart shape necklace on a silver chain.
“The heart of the earth,” Ramiro says, moving closer. He takes the box from my hands and takes out the necklace.
“How?” I ask, confused as to how he was able to afford the necklace.
“I have been working triple shifts at the restaurant,” He says, moving behind me and putting the necklace around my neck. The green emerald lands in between my breasts; I turn my head to Ramiro on my left. He places my other necklace in my palm. This is the first piece of jewellery; he gave me when he confessed his love for me.
“Thank you,” I say. Ramiro places his forehead against mine; he takes his hands and places them on either side of my face. My heart speeds up as I look into Ramiro’s deep dark brown eyes. He pulls me in. My heart catches in my throat as his lips move closer to mine. I close my eyes as our lips press against each other. After being together for three years, his kisses and touch make the butterflies swarm and flutter in my stomach. I feel the warmness from his lips transfer to mine. Running down to the tip of my toes. I smile against his lips, wanting more, wanting him right here, right now. We pull apart, Ramiro starts to pack the containers back into the backpack.
“The sun is getting ready to set,” Ramiro says as he pushes the backpack away. I smile, still feeling warm from our kiss. We lay down and looked up at the pink and orange sky. The air around us grows colder, the water splashes gently against the shore. Making me feel calmer and happier than I have ever been in my life. I don’t want this moment to end. I moved closer to Ramiro’s warm body as the sun started to dip lower. I lay my head on his chest and listen to the beat of his heart.
“It is so quiet,” he breathed out in Spanish; I move my head up to look at him.
“It always is this time of year. No noisy tourist staying in the hotels and trespassing on our land.” I reply in a whisper.
“I know you do not like tourist, but they are a good to us locals.”
“It just makes it harder to sneak into our part of the temples. Even when there are no more tours someone always finds away in. Also, it is harder when the filming companies come here to show their movies,” I say going silent.
“I know. But they make it good for all the local business,” Ramiro says.
I sat up, glanced across the river. I could not complain; I am not struggling as some people are. My life is great, I had food every day and a roof over my head. Which is already more than the rest of the population. I had access to school, friends, family and I am in love with my best friend Ramiro. Who I planned on marring one day, the thought of marring Ramiro brought a smile to my face. Ramiro had sat up and was looking towards the temples. Our people would come from all over to come and pray to our gods and goddess for guidance and answers.
“Do you think we should pray? To Xochiquetzal the goddess of love,” He asked as he turned to look at me.
“Estamos enamorados. Nada va a cambiar eso,” I say, smiling at him, I leaned in and kissing his bottom lip. A shiver ran throught out my body.
“I feel like we should,” He said after I had pulled away.
“Alright. Let’s get climbing since it will be dark soon and I do not want to be going home in the dark.” I help him wrap up the blanket. Hand in hand, we walked back up the dirt path to the temples. We walked to the end to a stone archway. I walked up to the right side of the archway to where there was a small hole, inside there was a dagger hidden. I reach my hand in and pull the dagger out. I prick my ring finger on my left hand and hand the dagger over to Ramiro. We pressed our bleeding finger up to the stone with the heart symbol, then we stepped back and waited for the sixth temple to come out from hiding. The sixth temple was only for our people, it was surrounded by magic to hide it from view from tourist, only reliving it’s self when our pure Mayan blood touched the symbol. We climbed the ninety-one steps in silence. At the top we barely spoke a word. We both knew what to ask for; I watched as Ramiro walked towards the stone table. He pulls out a small grey clay bowl with an everlasting candle, matches and a dagger.
“Tienes algo que ofrecer a la diosa del amor?/Do you have something to offer the goddess of love?” Ramiro whispered. I looked around, but knew I had to give up something meaningful for Xociquetzal to hear us. I felt my necklace around my neck, I unclasped the lock and it fell into my hand, Ramiro did the same. I had given him a gold heart shape necklace for his birthday, with a personalized message Siempre y para siempre/ Always and forever, Ramiro had given me a sliver one, with a ruby blood red heart. We both placed our necklaces into the bowl, lit the candle, picked up the knife and cut the palm of our hands. Our blood fall into the bowel, forms a heart shape before it disappeared into a circle. We both kneel close our eyes, send up our prayers. A wind picks up, getting stronger as it circles around us. I reach out and grab Ramiro’s hand, hold it tightly for comfort and support. When we opened our eyes a few minutes later, stand up still holding hands and walked towards the table, and look inside the bowl. Our necklaces and blood had vanished.
“¿Crees que nos escuchó?,” I whispered, not daring to raise my voice.
“Sí, ella nos escuchó,” Ramiro said whispering.
Ramiro and I walked back to our village, we arrived at my house first. I turned to face him and gave him a quick kiss on his cheek.
“Ahora lo sé,” He said, pulling away too soon.
“¿Que?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No quiero perderte.”
“No, no me perderás,” I said, pulling him closer to my body. Ramiro took my face in both of his hands and bent his head and brought his lips to mine. Our kiss sent a rippling wave of warmth throughout my body and down to my toes awaking something inside. I wrapped my arms around Ramiro pulling him closer deepening out kiss. I wanted to feel his body like I did once before when Ramiro and I shared a time together while our friend Elena covered for us.
“Soon,” Ramiro said against my lips. I settled for warping my arms around his neck and kissing him again. Little did I know it was going to be our last kiss.
 We are in love. Nothing is going to change that.
 Do you think she heard us?
 Yes, she heard us.
 Now I know.
 I don’t want to lose you
 No, no you won’t lose me.