I told you a thousand times, mom. It wa...

Ashes of Light (La Luz de un Cigarillo)

Julio Cesar Nino Cruz

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I told you a thousand times, mom. It was a flower arrangement. Ever seen one? An arrangement. There were lots of flowers there. His was... I don’t know... shaped like an arc. It had orchids, carnations, tulips... Thye smell... Kind of like... vanilla. Sweet. They put my name on it. Very big: "With much love and affection. Your son who loves you, Julio Cesar Nino Ortiz." With his last name, like you wanted. I don't know why you even bothered. He didn't wanna give it to me in the first place- Yes, I know. The funeral. Why do you want to know so much-? Okay!

The room. The room was... bright. I thought it would be dim. Tons of pictures... Pictures of him when he was young, dancing and holding that green glass with his rum on the rocks... pictures of us... so many people there. Everywhere you turned crying and praying... Not me.

The family got him a suit. You know how much he loved to show off: Silk tie, suit jacket, and his blue handkerchief. He looked handsome, but his face was kind of purple; I think it was the makeup. I touched his skin. It was so cold. I had never touched a dead person in my life. Never wanted to. But with him I did. See if I could find something. I touched his hair, his forehead, his cheek... Nothing. There he was... Mister Nino Ortiz: The man who refused to give me his name. He looked just like me: Same big nose. Same eyes. I thought Christ... that’s me in there. I'm in that box. I walked out as fast as I could.

There was a woman being viewed next to dad’s room. I didn't go in out of respect but I saw the body from a distance. The light was dim in that room. You could hardly see it. Right next to the casket there was this little boy, no more than five or six. He was kneeling there praying. I thought maybe he was the son or grandson but I overheard somebody say she was only his babysitter. Wasn't even his mother but he was praying for her. That room didn't have as many people as dads. Wasn't all that much light. But there was something. I felt something...

Alive.

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