Coqui, coqui. Close my eyes and listen closely. I can hear. The singsong voice of the Coqui frog. Lulls me to sleep. In the morning, I sip café con leche. The black and white tiles of Abuelo’s porch are warm under my feet. Tall coconut trees stretch into the sky over the horizon. The air smells of fresh leaves and of animals who run. Of breadfruit and mangoes and platanos. Abuelo’s calloused hands reach up and he plucks a coconut down from the tree. Sticks a straw inside, and without a word, hands it to me. I know to take the coconut and sip directly from it. The sweet taste floods over my tongue.
Even when there is no more juice left to sip, I can still feel the tang of the coconut on the bottom of my teeth. Abuelo and I sit next to each other, my legs swinging, and every so often a film of dust sprinkles onto the bottom of my toes.
I see cars drive by. The passengers wave their hands out the car windows, yelling hello or an exaggerated shout of sorts that I cannot understand.
“Abuelo,” I ask, turning my head to the right. I admire everything from his white cotton sleeve shirt to the way he crosses his knees. I try to mimic him but fail. “Who are all those people driving by?”
Abuelo’s thin lips curve into something like a smile as he wipes a bit of coconut juice from his upper lips. “Sometimes I wish I didn’t know them,” he says. “But they are my friends.”
I simply nod and wonder how Abuelo has so many friends when the tinted glass hides their faces.
We pass the rest of the evening watching the sun descend into the mountain’s embrace. I sit on Abuelo’s porch and I know I cannot be touched.
When night falls and the roads turn into unknown paths, I pad into my room and run under the scratchy blanket. The thunder claps like an angry command, once, twice, three times.
As if he knows, Abuelo comes into the room and sits beside me. He smiles down gently and whispers that I shouldn’t be scared. His hands pat my forehead before he leaves again, closing the door behind him with a soft thump, although it seems louder with all the lights out.
That’s when I think I hear the front door slam. Who is there? I try to look for the time and then remember I don’t have my own watch. I love Abuelo’s watch though. I hope he’ll let me have it one day. My toes tingle underneath the blankets, and before thinking twice I escape, my toes twitching against the now-cold floor.
The door handle is grey and dented, but my hand fits around it perfectly. I open the door only slightly and hope not to get caught. I see the outline of Abuelo’s thin, gray hair as he stands firmly on two feet. He is blocking another man’s path. I try to get a better look and stand on my tippy toes. The strange man wears a red bandana and a shirt with sleeves that are cut. His eyes are a beady dark brown. He only has two fingers. It is Samuel- Abuelo used to always invite him over for drinks.
“Go,” I hear him tell the man. I can see the glint of a machete hiding behind Abuelo’s back. It is the same machete he always tells me to leave hidden underneath his cracked flowerpot. The one that sits on Abuelo’s porch, waiting.
Age 17, Grade 12
Girls Write Now