After dinner, Julia and I sat and talked. The hour grew late, and her husband had not come home. Recent elections had resulted in a change in the political party which controlled the local municipality, and as a worker affiliated with the losing party, he had lost his job. After passing six long months with no work and selling off family belongings in order to get money for food, he was finally hired as a delivery truck driver. This work took him far from home, delivering insulated roofing materials to construction sites. When far from home after dark, it was safer to find shelter with a friend or to sleep in the truck rather than try to make his way home. After dark, gangs ruled the roads near the community.
It was time for bed. We climbed into our beds, Julia in the double and me in the top bunk. We chatted for a little while. We couldn't sleep. Julia got up to light a candle. "Do you recognize this?" she asked. "Your husband gave it to me. When I am home alone and I can't sleep, I light a candle to keep the evil spirits away."
The original candle had long since been melted away. Julia had filled the tin with new wax. She struck a match and held it to the inner side of the tin's cover. "I can still smell the original scent. Vanilla," she said, savoring that last word and taking a big sniff of the interior of the warm cover. Then she lit the candle wick and placed the tin in the middle of the floor.
She showed me the cover design - una familia de osos - a family of bears. She was the mama, her husband the papa. "When I smell the vanilla I think of your husband. He is like the big bear protecting the house when there is no man at home."
We climbed back into our beds. Julia was telling a funny story. I was laughing when suddenly she cried out, "Help me! Help me!" It took me a moment to realize that this was not part of the story. I leaped out of bed and by the light of the candle could see that Julia was sleeping and having a night terror. I gently called her name and stroked her hand. At that moment a tree branch fell onto the roof and she startled awake. Poor Julia was so apologetic. I suppose I looked a bit frightened. I realized that if it had been a real emergency, I had no way to call for help other than to go outside and try to find a neighbor. Tomorrow, I thought, I would make sure I knew where Julia kept all of her keys.
|Adela and Julia|