Cloak

There is a beautiful person within me who has no need to build an identity around suffering. I am learning to let that person blossom instead of holding on to a cloak of suffering.
Under the cloud of alcoholism it's easy to lose our dreams of a happy family life and our hopes that the alcoholic will find recovery.
Rows of flimsy houses w gaping doors.
Mete tu dedo aquí y ve mis manos y alarga acá tu mano y metela en mi costado y no seas incrédulo sino fiel sino fiel...Señor mío y Dios mío y creyó.
Joven con espejuelos de marco cuadrado negro cara delgada mirada espantada. Mujer con mirada seria pelo negro largo cara rectangular con la cabeza sobre el hombro del muchacho.

Gabriela didn't want to go into Rolando's room. She opened the door. Her small body shrunk inside the door frame. She squared her narrow shoulders, adjusted her black framed glasses, peered through her thick lenses into the darkness. Rolandito kept his shutters bolted. She stepped inside. She couldn't see. She tripped over his body in the middle of the floor.
She had feared this moment. She had woken up in terror of it at three am night after night and then lain in bed with a myriad galloping scenarios of this moment trampling her mind. And the moment was now. She screamed then fell to her knees and wailed. "I never have to have my hopes that this time he'll stay sober crushed again." She contorted. "Perdóname Dios mío."

Fourteen days earlier
"Rolando's brain has low gaba. He's learned to get gaba with substances. He needs more and more to get the same effect. He can never get the same effect." The man leaned forward over his small, messy desk. He had a round, kindly face and his gaze, through thick glasses, was direct but soft.
Gabriela rested her hand on the desk and leaned forward. "He wants to fly. The whole world wants to kill him. That would use up anybody's gaba. The world wants to kill him and he wants to fly."
Dr. Mas reached across the desk and covered her hand with his. "There's a place up in El Pico."
Gabriela moaned. "I can't. Not again. What makes you think it's going to work this time?"
"We just have to keep believing one time it will."
"Some make it. Some don't. What makes the difference? God is joking. If there were a god she would be joking."
"Hay un sitio en El Pico. They get them to climb La Cima."
"And how will I get him to go?"
Gabriela pulled her hand away. She stepped onto Calle de los Escolares and took off running toward the river. She ran into the vientos del crepusculo and pushed her body against the thick, cool wall of air. Almost nobody was out on the street but when she got to the Guacabon river seven boys were flying their kites, Rolando's friends. She ran into the meadow and stood among them. They were dispersed around her and she screamed and screamed until one by one they gathered beside her. "Are you going to watch Rolando kill himself and do nothing?"
They said nothing. They clutched their kite strings. Ernestico came close to her. She looked straight at his square, scruffy face, into his light brown eyes. "Dime algo." He was their neighbor and Rolandito's drinking buddy. He could take drink or leave it, she thought. He could pick it up and put it down. "I would if I knew what to do."
"Raptalo. Raptamelo." She turned to face the gathered boys surrounding her. "Find him. Tie him up if you have to. Take him to El Pico."

Gabriela screamed blood. She screamed and screamed. Ernestico from next door burst into the house from the back door, the kitchen door that almost abutted the kitchen door to his own home. "Que paso?" He knelt beside her. He pounded on Rolandito's chest. He breathed into his mouth. He pounded again.
"Anoche sone con Cristo," she thought. "She dreamed she found Christ on the ground, just like Rolandito lay on the ground, and she stuck her fingers into the wounds on his chest, the nail holes in his palms.
Rolandito bolted upright. "Igual que Cristo."
Within minutes Ernestico's crew, who used to be Rolando's crew until just recently when he stopped having any other friends besides the drink, the boys he grew up with, who could pick it up and put it down, who loved him, they converged in the bedroom.
"Raptenmelo. Seize my boy. Salvenmelo." Dr. Mas showed up. Had she called him? She gave the young men the piece of pad paper Dr. Mas had just given her with the location, the exact latitude and longitude for Yucayeque. "Raptenmelo. Seize my boy. Take him here." Before Rolandito was fully conscious his friends tossed him into the back seat of Ernestico's father's yipi. Ernestico sat beside him. His older brother Raul, with Ernestico's same oval face, dark skin, yellow brown eyes, and with a sparse bigotico and goatee, took the wheel. At the last minute Dr. Mas pushed his way into the back seat. Gabriela let out a cry and her eyes gushed tears. Dr. Mas was going to make sure Rolandito got to Yucayeque. She felt hope's flutter in her chest. She didn't want to hope but she felt hope's flutter.

"Perdoname vieja. Forgive me. Estoy llorando. Lloro y lloro. I'm on my training climb today. We made it to La Sabana. I'm resting, leaning on a tree, sitting en el borde del mundo. I can see Karaya, almost all of Karaya and it's night time and I see the glowing sea and I understand why our ancestros saw the moon here and called our island Karaya. Today my cacique Guarionex told us the story of when he used to be Tomas and how he had finally taken off his cloak of suffering and put down the would be healer that doesn't really heal, the would be spirits that steals the spirit. Maybe if I stay up here forever it won't be necessary to drink. That's what Guarionex did. He came. He stumbled onto this place is what he said. He came and he never left. I don't know that I can face la Costa. Guarionex says in La Costa el imperio se pasea como el diablo. "

"Atravesamos todas las aguas. Un rocio que se volvio nube. It turned to rain. A downpour. I was wet. Guarionex found us a cave. Or he'd already known it was there. Or he'd always known it was there. In it we built a fire from a stick and a stone. We sat by the fire and over us a lone bat swooped then vanished into the blackness because the cave went in. I asked Guarionex if he knew where it went or how deep and he told me. Ya veras. Un dia d'estos entramos.
"Guarionex told us on this climb we were to sleep whenever we were not eating or climbing. We ate some of our yuca con lentejas and then a few of our raisins. Two of us, Guarionex and me, were able to hang our hammocks. Someone had driven metal rods into a ledge on the cavewall. The other six of us spread our straw mats. We all rolled into our blankets, olive green, water proof wool, liberated from the Base.
"Hanging in the air I felt nothing and then after a few moments I felt something I didn't understand. It was like a river was running along my spine and little tributaries were running up and down my arms and legs. I fell into a black sleep with no dreams as if I'd fallen into the black cave. With Guarionex and the others there I wasn't scared. We're not meant to be alone. We're not meant to live as if we alone are the ones to save ourselves.
"Now it's morning and Guarionex made us hot red tea, gave us yuca, bread and told us to write home. So here I am, writing you Ma. When I see your face I start to cry all over again. Perdoname. I'm not sure that once I'm back on la Costa I won't start doing the same things again. Maybe this Rolando here is my real self but can I survive la Costa without being that other one?
Guarionex says revolution is our rehabilitation. We can never fully heal, we can never unbreak, until we make the revolution. You know the prayer, the things we can not change? He says we have to change everything.
Tomorrow our training climb is to Cataratas de las Brujas.
"I wish I never had to go back again. Never have to climb la Cima and be sent out into that world down there again.
Te quiero, Ma. Eso si, te quiero. You never gave up on me. Even when the whole world said I was crazy you always said, I know you are doing the best that you can. But I would hear you crying at night and I knew you wanted me to do different, better. To know what you knew that deep inside I knew. That what I was doing was not what I wanted to be doing. You wanted me to know that and I can know it here but I don't know I can hold onto it down there."

"Guarionex from here I can see the world. La Costa is like a yellow crayon streak and el mar like my old aquarium after I got the idea to put blue and green food coloring in the water.
"Rolando spun his thin brown body. "And on this side, the sky. El mismo cielo. Those waterfalls make my knees shake because they are more beautiful than my eyes can bare. A veil of water as far as my eyes can see in every direction and now you are taking us under it."

" The wet ledge under the Brujas' veil is slippery. I am at last as scared outside as I have always been inside which I did not know but I know it now. If I trip, or slip, I will go into space and then I will be dead in minutes long before my body every lands and maybe my body would disintegrate and become Brujas' mist, part of their veil, their cloak.
"But I make it to the other side. All seven of us do. Not one of us going to die on Guarionex's watch.
"On the other side there is a gathering of actual Brujas. That's what I thought when we arrived at the camp and there were dozens of gray haired women, cropped or braided, dancing around a campfire. They welcomed us and Guarionex embraced several of them. "Tu aqui! Y tu madre Irma se esta muriendo." They fed us and another of the boys, who came from the encampment, from Palenque, and not like the rest of us, from Coral itself or even from Arrecife, told us these were Las Senoras de los Frijoles who fed the hundreds of Palenqueros in their permanent demonstration.
"After we ate they let us sit around their fire to get dry. For several hours I watched them dance. They put on and took off elaborate embroidered cloaks and then after awhile they stopped and began to read their cloaks one by one. Guarionex leaned toward where the seven of us sat clustered. "Their cloaks of suffering. They come here once a year to add that year's sufferings to their embroidery and then they dance around their fire and wear the cloaks and take them off and tell the stories and let them go."
"Guarionex got a screaming to from one of the Senoras for not letting his mother know where he is. He hung his head. "No soy perfecto." He said that later when the ladies were in their painted tents and we had the dying fire to ourselves and Guarionex made us add to our letters.

"There's no turning back from here. We have one day of rest beyond the Cataratas, after crossing under the Velos de las Brujas. Today we took an easy hike to Dos Lagunas.
Then Guarionex sent us off alone. Solos. Solos con un pan de yuca. I'm sitting here. Guarionex is making us sit until we feel the riachuelos de energia he says are all over our bodies. I sit and sit and I don't feel anything. To my left is El Piquito. It's like La Cima's baby mountain. It's perfect, like in my coloring book. Straight ahead are Dos Lagunitas, like two eyes. How is the water up here this clear? They are also perfect, blue like the sky. And up above so close I can imagine I can touch it, is the sky. Right now it is blue, cloudless. Guarionex said, "Sit here until your body is as still and steady as El Piquito, until your breath is as calm as Dos Lagunitas, until your mind is as clean as that sky. One moment I had the thought, and even spoke it, "that's never gonna happen." And next thing, I had no more thoughts and I was El Piquito, Dos Lagunitas, and the sky. I wondered why I've ever needed more than the sky above, and the ground under my feet, and my mind to think, and my heart to feel.