All in a Bottle of Mezcal

He was running fast! Scared out of his wits, the boy leaped and bounded – cartoon style – over the spots on the ground his instinct told him hid mines. The ceaseless pounding of explosives enveloped everything. He couldn’t stop running. He had to get away. His feet barely skimmed the soil, yet his lithe body was ruthlessly thrown about by violent explosions. It filled him with dread. His ears ached from repeated assaults.

And then, abrupt silence… But no, not entirely: the soothing crash of distant waves caressed his senses and sparked his imagination… There he was: submerged in turquoise blue waters! Above him, a seagull screeched as it flew overhead. Keeeaugh! He started and lazily opened one eye only to realize that the screech was actually coming from the bare legs of a rusty chair scraping the floor of the cheap restaurant where he sat with his head on a metal sheet table for a pillow. His gaze shifted to a half empty – Oh no, still half full! – bottle of mescal and a man’s taunt fist resting beside it. Like a hammer, thought the boy. Now his ears  focused on the man’s slow and steady snoring that – like the waves soothing the beach – made him feel at ease.

He shut his eye again before the sweet smell of the surf that still lingered in his nostrils morphed back into stale grease and alcohol. He desperately tried to return to the beach, but all he got was blackness and oblivion until the thundering sound of rocks free-falling suddenly opened to a scene in which he found himself hunched up against a boulder that sheltered him from the downpour. The smaller rocks would pitter pat down the mountainside heralding in small playful cotton balls of clouds across the sky. But soon, larger menacing rocks took over as they crashed by apparently drawing in black clouds that thickened the horizon. The din from the thunder became unbearable.

Too frightened to open his eyes, the boy covered his ears.   Then, all of a sudden and quite miraculously, the horrific pounding vanished. He slid out from under the boulder and looked up to a clear sky. A green mountaintop beckoned him. Still stunned by the rock storm, the boy felt too weary to climb so he quite naturally spread out his arms and simply flew up there with a powerful leap. At the top he found a crater, a valley of sorts full of grass, shrubs and a few trees. A waterfall filled the air with the sounds of peace. The boy felt home.

He was just breathing it all in when everything, including him, started to shake violently. He opened his eyes reluctantly to an empty bottle and the man who had passed out a couple of times while drinking it. The man stopped rattling the boy’s shoulder. Then he grabbed him by the arm, and hauled him out the door back to what they called home, where the man would sleep off the booze. The mid-morning sun hit the boy. He realized he was fully awake.

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