A Single Breath

Breathe in. Close my eyes.

Memories rush.

A camcorder's view in my mind's eye.

Guelo's house.

It was green.



Engines backfiring and Mexican music blaring from the stereo.

A whole skinned goat in a garbage bag.

Shake its hoof.

Say hi to dinner.

Riding my tricycle.

It was red.

Laughter. Family. Love.


Friday nights and Chinese food.

Fighting for the last shrimp in lobster sauce like most kids fight over the last cherry in a mixed fruit cup.

Sabado Gigante on the TV.

Adjust the rabbit ears.

Guelo has a Buddha belly.

He calls me cabrona.

Always with a smile.

And takes me to Dunkin' Doughnuts.

I kiss the top of his head.

Plastic on the sofas.

Guela's portrait hanging on the wall.

So beautiful.

Rifling through drawers filled with memories that go even deeper.

My father.

The glue that holds our family together.

"I'm gonna die young, kid."

He always used to say that.

I never believed him.

His heart.

My mother's birthday.

He was only 50.

The glue is gone.

The family is broken.

The first winter's snow on the day of his burial.

Stay strong. Help mom.

I am the oldest. It's my job.

Money changes people.

We didn't believe them, either.

Now we do.

Pictures deleted. Memories stay.

Of family as it once was.


Laughter. Family. Love.

Guelo's house.

It was green.

Breathe out.

I open my eyes and blink under the harsh lights in the grocery store. I am holding the herbs in my hands, a bouquet of memories. A single breath and I am a child, standing on my grandfather's porch, smelling the sweet cilantro growing alongside the steps. My mind racing through time and space, bringing me back to the here and now.

I set the cilantro in my grocery cart, cross it off of my shopping list, and breathe in again.

This post was written for The Red Dress Club RemembeRED memoir prompt. This week, writers were asked to write about a sound or a smell that reminds us of our past.