“These men are dogs.” I watched my mother struggle with the water bucket. Not even half full, she couldn’t lift it. I stepped forward to take it from her. She did nothing but sigh. She insisted on helping despite her condition. Not a bad idea, considering more soldiers had filed into the town early this morning. I never understood the need for so many. The people were all too weak in spirit to fight… most of them weren’t even strong enough to work. And yet, the blue coats came. Like storm clouds, always and forever looming. “I wont give them the satisfaction of calling them wolves.”
“I don’t pay attention to these men.”
“As you shouldn’t.” Although her body was weak, her mind was strong. Even stronger was her tongue. “But they pay attention to you, bonita. I see them gather like a flock of vultures whenever you step out the door.” She shook her head. “Don’t let them scavenge for you. Because to them, all you will be is flesh.”
I let mama inside the house, leaving one of the buckets by the door. The other I carried around to the ox that was tied between two dwellings. He paid me no mind as I filled his trough. I glanced up toward the shades of blue across the street. Four men standing where my mother and I had just came. All of them were staring in my direction. One, bigger than the rest, went without uniform. Even from this distance I could see how cold his face was. I dropped my gaze, pretending to tend to bull. But when I glanced back toward the men, the stranger was making his way towards me.
I wiped my hands with my apron and made my way to the back door of mama’s house. “Stop.” Called a deep voice. I did, dead in my tracks. I turned, but did not look him in the eye. “Señor.” He was a massive, towering man. He blocked the setting sun. “There will be a ship at harbour tomorrow morning. You and your family will greet Captain Hector Barrios upon his arrival.” El Capitán. I wished to spit at that name. The murderer of so many. The thief of so much. The last time I had seen him was after the death of my papa. He was nothing more than a decorated soldier then. He wouldn’t let us bury my father. He left us all to rot beneath the sun.