CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-NINE
“Mom told me about this. They went here on their second honeymoon,” Tanesha said. “They dug up old bones and brought them here so that they’d have room for plague victims.”
“They did it many, many times,” Heather said.
Tanesha walked up to a wall made entirely of skeletal bones and skulls.
“I wanted you to see. . .” Heather said.
They were standing on a street corner. An open cart driven by two men and two horses was driving toward them.
“Bodies?” Tanesha asked.
“Skeletons,” Heather said. “But look. . .”
Heather gestured around them. People were out on the streets celebrating the macabre parade of carts and bones. Some people threw down flowers while others danced behind the carts.
“Wow,” Tanesha said.
“Death was common place,” Heather said. “You brought out your dead every morning. Most children didn’t live past the age of three. Disease was rampant.”
Heather gestured for Tanesha to step back. A large man carrying a stoneware gallon jug of wine danced past them.
“They seem so happy,” Tanesha said.
“Death is a part of life,” Heather said. “Millions of people died in just a few years. He’s dancing for his own life as well as his ancestors.”
Heather reached out and touched Tanesha’s hand.
“This is Mexico City,” Heather said. “The year is 1520.”
“What do they have?” Tanesha asked.
“Small pox,” Heather said. “5 to 8 million people died, which was more than 25% of the population.”
Tanesha nodded. Heather touched her arm and the world whirred again. They landed in a beautiful villa with an open field behind them.
“Where are we now?” Tanesha asked stepping out of the way of a body laden cart.
“My grandfather’s house,” Heather said. “I wanted to give you a minute to think and talk.”
Tanesha nodded. They fell silent. A woman came out of the house with a bottle of wine and glasses. She poured the wine. Another woman brought a plate of cheese, grapes, and olives. Tanesha and Heather watched the scenery in silence.
“You’ve told me — ‘Everything that lives has a virus,’” Tanesha said. “And I know that’s true. It’s just. . .”
“Heartbreaking,” Heather said.
Tanesha nodded. They drank wine and sat in peaceful silence. Tanesha sighed.
“I don’t want to be an ER doctor,” Tanesha said with a sigh. “I don’t know what kind of doctor I want to be, but I can’t handle this.”
“Okay,” Heather said.
“But I still have two more months,” Tanesha said.
“You do,” Heather said.
“I can change my mind,” Tanesha said.
“Shall we?” Heather asked.
“Sure,” Tanesha said.
The world spun, and they were standing in their backyard. Tanesha hugged Heather tight.
“Thank you,” Tanesha said.
“Any time.” Heather shrugged. “Go shower. I’ll walk you over.”
Tanesha nodded. They went inside. Heather waited in the kitchen while Tanesha showered and changed.
“What do you think?” Tanesha asked. She was wearing a beautiful, bright blue dress that hit her thighs. “It was in my closet. Jer probably. . .”
Heather pointed to herself.
“Where’d you get it?” Tanesha asked.
“Those women who brought us wine?” Heather asked. “They’re seamstresses. They made it for you. They wanted you to know that anything you do — everything you do — makes a big difference in the world. The color is only available in Olympia. It is gorgeous on you.”
Teary, Tanesha shook her head at Heather.
“There you are!” Jeraine came running down the stairs. “I’ve been looking for you forever.”
He scanned Tanesha’s face.
“What’s wrong?” Jeraine asked.
“I’ve decided to grow my hair out,” Tanesha said. “I’m going to grow an afro.”
“Whatever you like,” Jeraine said. “You grow a beautiful afro.”
“See,” Heather said. “I told you he wouldn’t be upset.”
Jeraine hugged her. He grabbed her hand and they walked out of the house. Heather followed behind. Tanesha stopped to grab masks and the three of them left to house to join Harvest Day.
Denver Cereal continues on Monday...
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