the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Lara Connor ’22
Mari awoke to the cry of rusted machinery churning through the newly dusted streets of Carlyle, Texas. Window blinds drawn and glasses left in the bathroom, without eyes on the street the noises told Mari that people were coming — aliens, IRS, the mean girls from school, what have you — for something, someone. There was a pain, a purpose, to the clanging that rang through town and had begun seeping through her sheets.
You knew Mama was near when the jingle jangle rang. That’s what Mari called it, the unmistakable presence of Mama. The slapping of her prized bangles and rings together as she took heavy steps, spoke with her hands, stirred dinners with ferocity and danced to the hum of her own mind whenever, wherever it spoke to her. It sounded off in Mari’s dreams and memories alike of Mama, one with her voice and widened brown eyes. It woke her up every morning, slowly bringing her out of sleep as Mama began to hum through her morning routines. It was usually a tame tune at early hours, but today the jingle jangle hurried through the bedroom door, “Have you looked outside yet?”
Another sharp whine poured through the bedroom from outside. Mari lifted the blanket’s hem just below her eyes and squinted through Sandman’s sleep, “Don’t let the outside in.” Mama threw her hands in the air. Jingle jangle.
“It snowed last night, Mari,” Mama reached for the blinds, “look.”
The contraption spat, rolled, and clawed through the sidewalks. It exhaled but didn’t appear to breathe. It took, it grinned with greed. A man Mari had never seen around the courtyards puppeted the beast. Every part of the scene told her to hide. Scores of housing windows overlooked Mari’s, every single one sealed shut. Young faces melted against the panes, views obscured by the sill’s black bars, horchata-breath fogging up the glass and roasting their cheeks pink to the chill.
Crystal clear light flooded throughout the courtyard, as if the sun had too burned whiter. Mama dropped onto the bed and took Mari within her bangled arms, watching the machine purr away towards the main town. “It hasn’t snowed here since before you were born,” Mama brushed the matted bangs from Mari’s forehead, “it’s not good, but it’s so beautiful.”