3 40 13 18
3 40 13 18
By Martín Letona
Three screamed when Thirteen twisted his arm; high-pitched, bitter... metallic. The skin that surrounded the limb became elastic, and the arm, shattered like glass, bounced in the air.
Three cried out again, now with a gravelly voice.
Anguished red tears trailed down from his honey-colored eyes, escaping the rhythmic stabs of rage that Eighteen sunk in his soft brown stomach mass with his military combat-style boot. Milliseconds later, Three spit out air mixed with blood, and with his eyes fixed straight ahead, his body fell two meters away.
As he fell, his arm bounced again inside his skin. But this time, there was neither howl nor tears -- only an expression of horror. The whirlwind of pain that was hitting him in the chest prevented him from screaming the only two words that he had learned to say at his young age. These words were the ones that made Forty defend him from the evil in the world. But this time she didn’t come find him; she didn’t hasten with her arms extended toward him, nor did she say to him, “There, there, my boy. It’s okay, it’s okay.”
And Three wanted to say loudly, urgently, “Mommy,” “Hurts!,” in the different tonalities of rage-joy-fear-sadness with which he had learned to apply to these words.
There, thrown on the floor, with his swollen nose and threads of blood falling from his mouth and his bruised left cheekbone, Three wanted to yell, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”, the words touched by horror and fear, which meant, “Why are these men hitting me? Stop them, Mommy!”
He wanted to say, “Le-le!”, “Le-le!”, (the words touched by impotence and a conviction that Forty would rescue him with a kiss there where he was hurting, and a soft touch on his tummy, and a quick strawberry ice cream treat to scare away the tears), which meant, “Help! Tell them to stop….!”
Three wanted to scream too — at the world, at the trees, at the rabbits that rushed by, terrified – that he was very scared of these two blood-stained men who were beating him and Forty. But he couldn’t: his voice had left with the air. Neither could he say anything when he saw that Eighteen was sinking the point of the serrated knife in Forty’s throat, while Thirteen raped her.
And he saw, impotent, how Forty screamed, sobbed, kicked, trying to escape the things they were shoving into her body, and how her bellows became little terrified birds that the trees threw up against the sky.
He also couldn’t scream when Eighteen looked at him out of the corner of his eye, with that lustful smile that he had only seen on dogs when they were about to bite. Eighteen removed his knife from Forty’s immobile throat and licked off the blood that ran down the metal. The man, seated on the woman’s chest to dominate her arms with his knees, got up and came over to Three. He took him by his brown slicked-down curls and said into his ear, smelling like rotting onions, “Now it’s your turn, son of a bitch kid.”
Three closed his eyes and thought quickly of Forty.
He felt great fear. It was fear in the form of a knot; the kind in a tight ball that choked him and that hurt his tonsils. It was perhaps the last fear he would experience at his young age.
If this was the end, he didn’t want to be remembering his mother sprawled over a puddle of blood. He refused. So instead, he thought of the ball that she had bought him in the morning. He imagined all of the soccer games that he was going to play in kindergarten with the other kids. He thought about the Spiderman costume that he had tried to put together, and he would use for Marito's birthday party. And he thought again of Forty kissing his forehead, squeezing him against her chest and he curled up in this imagined maternal body.
Three also thought of the third word that he had learned to say, just today: “M’love!” (with watermelon happiness), which meant, “I love you, mommy!” But, Thirteen and Eighteen decided that this little pumpkin head had already learned enough of this life. Now it was time to cut it and plant it in the grass, so that the little marijuana plants would grow healthy and strong.