My Ankh

By definition an ankh is the breath of life, key to the Nile or in Spanish the cross with a handle. To me my ankh is the good luck charm I can’t wear. The heavy chain as beautiful as the day she gave it to me dangles on my jewelry stand, alone. I can glance across the room in the brightest light or pitch darkness and I could see my ankh staring at me. The sight of the charm alone brings back stored memories of when “The Mask of Zorro” first aired in black and white and I had a roommate, my great grandmother. She would tolerate my fascination of the elasticity of her skin. No matter how hard I would pull at the sagging skin on her arm, a sign of her age, she always loved me, spoiled me and made sure the world was as innocent to me as I was to it.
Every story she ever told me was altered to spare me the gruesome details, like how her husband (my great grandfather) left her on their wedding day because he knew he didn’t love her, she always told me to be truthful with myself, and the reality was she spent years with him as he spent years with the other. Then finally she had walked away. She always reminded my father how much he messed up with my mom, it didn’t matter that he was her grandchild she knew what he had done was wrong and no amount of blood could change that. Before she left she was really the only one on our side supporting the family my father had left, while everyone else’s promises of keeping in touch had broken. She was the voice of reason in my family; every family should have a Mami Clorinda.
In the end she only recognized me as her maid, when I would remind her who I was, she would get upset and show me a picture of myself of when I was 8 or maybe it was 10. Then she would stop and stare in disbelief and walk away without a word. I still wonder if she knew who I was before she left us, I guess I always had that hope.
On May 19th back in 2010, I was sitting in my A.P. English course, making funny faces with my best friend. The class was loud and the teacher annoyed. We weren’t “college” material or so she had said. I think it was the amount of smart mouths in the class that would push her buttons; every other class loved her and she loved every other student except those in my course. I saw her a few weeks ago; I couldn’t have possibly been that annoying considering she didn’t recognize me. (Anyways)
My mother had texted me during the first fifteen minutes of class, I was sitting in my spot to the left corner of the room next to the bookshelf full of vandalized papers. My mother always knew how to talk to me a quality my father still lacks entirely. She had told me he had gotten on the first flight out to Ecuador. I didn’t need to ask why, I already knew. I asked to use the bathroom and I strutted down the hallway as fast as possible and biting as hard as possible on my tongue .Once I finally got inside I locked myself in the first stall, there was no toilet seat and it didn’t matter because I just stared at it until I could finally feel the tear rolling down my face. That bathroom was always packed but in the midst of third period I was alone in the white bathroom with gray and green tiles suffocating the walls, three mirrors and four stalls. I wiped the tears rolling, took a deep breath and just stared at the mirror. That day I was wearing the chain, I never wore it, it’s quite heavy and the chain always pulled on the baby hairs at the nape of my neck. That day I felt at ease, as If I wasn’t alone (which technically I wasn’t because there were over 400 kids at school that day). That night my father sent me the last image I have of her, in a casket with a sewed lips and a pale face.
A year later on May 19th 2010 I traced and tattooed the same Ankh on my wrist, because even though I could carry the chain everywhere, I’d rather wear it forever.

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