In the attic, Mother built a country out of papers from her past, the sheets creased, torn and taped back together, yellowed.  The collection was a life long.  She pasted up the walls, spent weeks layering and overlapping her maps and postcards from La Paz and Tijuana and Monterrey just so, her hands for once steady as she smoothed out the bubbling surfaces.  If she couldn’t get to Mexico, she would bring it to her.  Small, thready slices of red appeared all over her skin. Glue dried and hardened in her thick, inky hair.   As soon as she finished, she moved in, taking her ancient wooden chest, her jar of whispers, her faded, fraying quilt, and never came out.

Give her a few days, I thought to myself and waited.

After weeks had passed, I crawled up the stairs, a black fear in my throat.

“Mother.”  I rapped on the door.  It wrinkled beneath my knuckles.  “Mother, let me in.”

All I heard in response: a pulpy cough.  I tore through the walls.  She was as frail and flat as tissue.  Her hair hung like crepe.  Old stamps she had peeled from her letters covered her face.  On her forehead,written in black marker: To Mexico.  I threw open the window.  A gust lifted her up and pulled her out.

How long does it take to get to Mexico?   A lifetime – or, five days by mail.

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