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Back to the Swale

RETURNING CHAPTER 13 By PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL Luz, Angel and little Angelito followed the garishly dressed woman through the door in the basement of the senior center. It led to a passageway that got narrower and lower as they walked. As they were about to step into near complete darkness, Angel turned and looked at Agnes, the kind elderly woman who had found them, fed them and given them hope. She seemed to shrink as they departed, and her face contorted in tears. I”™m sorry. I”™m so sorry: that is what Angel heard. But whether those words came from Agnes, or from the walls closing in on him, he could not say. Their journey continued for several minutes, with no light and only the raspy words of Cindy Keefe to follow. Luz knew her from the worst part of her past; a past that would not let her be; Angel had just met her, and knew that she could not be trusted. But what else could they do but follow? They emerged in the middle of an alleyway, behind a tall, wooden garage that must have once been used to keep a horse and wagon. Angel instinctively knew where they were: in the middle of the swale. Of course it was the swale, he thought. Everything is connected to the swale: my ancestors, Luz”™ ancestors, our accusers. Seven years before, on Angel”™s first searching, he had learned about the swale from Mr. Bussey, a teacher he had had at Roosevelt. The swale was a low spot between Bloomington and Cedar, not good for farming when farms were still here, but a good place for hiding out. Escaped slaves had passed through, refugees from the 1862 war, smugglers, women fleeing their husbands. It was a place of promise and of peril.* “Where are we?” little Angelito asked his father. Before Angel could answer, the strange woman bent down to him and said, “Why would a nice boy like you need to know that?” “How would you know what was nice or not?” Angelito asked. He [...]

A Strange Feast

Returning Chapter 11 By PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL As Agnes led Angel and Luz and little Angel to the basement community room, the smell of fresh baked bread and cinnamon grew stronger, along with hints of fresh coffee. As they entered the dining area, they saw tables filled with cinnamon rolls and pan dulce, trays of sambusas and fry bread, and coffee urns.  “Is this just for us?” little Angel asked. “Yes and no,” Agnes laughed.  “It is just that you are be welcomed and fed, yes.  But no food and no light is just for us, but for everybody.” Luz and Angel didn”™t realize how hungry they were until they started eating.  They ate and drank, almost forgetting they were on a mission to find their lost daughter.  Again, it was little Angel who brought them back to reality. “Do you know where my sister is?” he asked Agnes. “Oh yes,” Agnes said.  “She”™s being cared for by some friends.  They will bring her here soon.” At this, Luz and Angel jumped up and peppered Agnes with questions. It was hard to tell which one was speaking which lines. “Where is she?” “Is she OK?” “Who has her?” “Why didn”™t you tell us this at first?” “Please, please, bring her to us!” Agnes smiled and simply said, “Do not worry. She is on her way.  But please, let me introduce you to some friends who you may or may not know.” She pointed around the room.  Angel and Luz rubbed their eyes as she gave them the tour.  Were these people here the whole time, or are we imagining them? “Here”™s our resident card shark, Lefty. Behind the counter is Chef Abdi. Over by the pop machine is Alice, who made the wonderful rolls.  And lying by the elevator is our dog Voltaire.” Lefty, Abdi and Alice waved their [...]

A Ray of Hope

Returning Chapter 9 By PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL The older woman walked as fast as she could toward Lake Street. She felt that she was being called further south, and had planned to wait for the light to change. But as she saw the car lights reflect off the mirrors in the huge mural at La Mexicana, a saying came to her mind: Light is not lost in its reflection She wasn”™t sure where the saying came from, if she had heard it spoken by someone or read it in a book. Maybe I just made it up, she thought. But it was so clear and strong that she decided to heed it. The light that she saw reflected came from the east, so she turned east. That”™s when she saw Angel and Luz and little Angelito, walking briskly. She could sense the fear in them. They stopped in front of where the bakery used to be. The phone store was mostly boarded up; it had been looted recently, and the owner was waiting on the insurance. Whatever Luz and Angel were looking for, it didn”™t seem to be there. All they could see was a little broken glass on the floor, and boxes scattered around. The older woman smiled and said to them, “It may look empty, but there are a lot of memories in that place, if you have eyes to see.” Angel thought, Oh great, another thing that doesn”™t make sense. But Luz looked at the older woman”™s face, and a spark of recognition lit up her own smile. “Agnes?” she said. “Is that really you?” “Yes, dear,” the older woman replied. “And Luz, my Lord, how your little family has grown!” Normally, Luz would have introduced Angel and her son to an old acquaintance, but given what had happened, she only blurted out: “But we”™ve lost one of our little family””our littlest one””we don”™t know where she is!” Agnes sighed and reached out her arm to comfort Luz. “Who is lost?” [...]

RETURNING CHAPTER 4: A Split Decision

By PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL  We hope that when two people “cling to each other and become one flesh” their journeys flow together into one tender, complicated and true story. But we know that life doesn”™t work that way often. In order for Luz and Angel to be truly together in their life now, both of them must undergo journeys that the other may never know, let alone understand.  Angel fell back asleep next to his sleeping son. Luz entered a dark space in the bookshop with a strange man named Harald. The wonders that Luz saw made her ask herself over and over if she was dreaming. What Angel saw in his dream was all too real.  Luz”™ darkness was not darkness at all. The small door at the back of the store led to a space full of tiny lights, in multiple colors, that illuminated beautiful carvings on the wall. As she walked into the space, the carvings””of lions, eagles, gigantic trees and humans of all shapes and colors”” seemed to speak to her. Not in words, but inside her, in the universe of her brain and soul where there were no limits.  She turned and said to Harald, “This is so beautiful! What is this place?”  “Ah, child of light,” Harald smiled. “This is not a place at all. It is more time than place. Although to be exact, it”™s not really a time either.”  Normally, Luz would have thought that the man who spoke these words was nuts. But in the warmth and light of that space, it didn”™t seem strange. She had started reading The Chronicles of Narnia to Angelito before bed. Although, to be honest, she was more thrilled with the adventures of the four seekers than her son was.  “You said that you”™ve been waiting for me?” Luz asked Harald. “What did you mean?”  “Well, to be honest,” Harald laughed. “It”™s more like this that has been waiting [...]

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