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Searching – A Serial Novelle Chapter 25: “Something Special for Someone Special”

By Patrick Cabello Hansel

Sometimes you have to stop searching, and let the search find you. Sometimes you have to let go in order to hold onto what you really love. Ana and Luz had confronted their pasts, now it was time to discern where the past was going. And as they walked out into the still swirling snow, they realized they had to do this part of the search alone.

“Luz”, Angel said, timidly. “I think I need to go talk to my mom and dad some more. I want to make sure that you’re OK. I don’t want to leave you alone when…” His voice broke off, and he held his head up to the sky, as if in desperate prayer.

Luz took his arm with her hand. “I’ll be all right, mi amor. I need to see about some things myself. I’ll be OK.”

“I don’t want you to be afraid,” he told her.

“Angel, it’s one thing to be afraid. It’s another to live in fear. Do you know the difference?”

“I think so,” he said. “For most of my life, I thought I had to fight my way through every trouble. If I was afraid, I got tougher. If I didn’t know how to do something, I worked harder. I think maybe I have to learn something different now.”

Then the two embraced. It was an embrace of two people who know that they may never see each other again. Fear, longing, love, hope intertwined in their hug. It was the hug of brothers or sisters who cross oceans or deserts to find a new life in a new land. Children taken from their parents arms by the brutal hand of the conquistadors. Grandchildren saying goodbye to the grandparents at the nursing home. Luz and Angel held on, not so much for dear life, but to remember, in their muscles, the love they would never give away. Even if they lost.

Luz brushed away the tears off Angel’s cheek, and Angel performed the same rite for his beloved. Luz walked towards the transit station, Angel north along Chicago Avenue.

As he crossed the bridge, he decided to cross the street. He had always avoided the west side of Chicago, the side of Sunny’s, the gun shop, the bookstore with the eerie raven. But now he was drawn to a soft light just over the bridge. Without knowing why, he walked into the little flower shop, and immediately breathed in the joyful mix: humidity, pollen, nectar, oxygen. The shop was full of Christmas greens, flowers, ribbons and most of all, warmth.

It seemed to him that the shop was empty, but after a minute, a small, elderly woman stepped out, with a big smile.

“Good evening, young man”, she said. “Are you looking for something special for someone special?”

Angel could not remember the last time he had been called a young man. He laughed to himself, I feel like I’ve aged ten years these past few weeks, but I’m still not yet 20!

“I’m looking for something for my parents,” he said, just realizing that was what he came in for. “Something for Christmas, I think”.

“Well, would they like a plant, or flowers, or some greens for the door?”

Angel had to search his mind for memories of Christmas at his house. Mostly he remembered big parties with all the cousins and aunts and uncles: tamales, pozole, lots of candy. There was always a Christmas tree, of course, but it had impressed Angel as mostly being scrawny. Then he remembered a Christmas when he was very little, at his grandmother’s house in Mexico. It was warm, there were processions every night. And flowers everywhere: Flores de Noche Buena.

“I think I would like a flower they call “Noche Buena” in Mexico”, he said. “I’m not sure what you call it.”

“Oh, that’s a poinsettia”, she said.

“How did you know that Noche Buena is the name for poinsettia?” he asked her.

“Oh, you’d be surprised what I know”, she said with a little wink. “Now, young man, how do you plan to get this home in this terrible weather?”

“Um…I was hoping maybe you had a plastic bag I could wrap it in, and then I’d put it under my coat…”

She looked at Angel for a second. “I have a better idea. I’ll see if the young man who works for me can give you a ride.”

Little did Angel know exactly how young the “young man” was, and where the ride would take him.

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