It was a cold May morning and Pedro’s absence dug an endless pit in Tita’s heart, providing not a pulse of heat to her body. Nacha, Roberto and Pedro were all gone, but she knew the difference between Nacha’s absence and theirs. She knew what she had to do in order to light her inner fire, and the only way she could do so was by bringing him back to her. She woke early that morning to sneak into the henhouse where she had prepared the suitcase and everything she would pack for him the night before.
The sound of silence was soothing; the inexistence of Mama Elena’s arguing felt ever so peaceful. With only the slow and tranquil breathing of the sleeping chickens, Tita was sure to make no noise her self. Everything was quiet and calm, yet, Tita felt her heart pound up and down faster than Nacha could move the blade up and down when cutting spring onions in a hurry. She knew that Mama Elena would be waking soon, so she strategically planned her packing to close the suitcase as soon there were any sounds that signified that she was awake.
The silence allowed her to hear for even the slightest movements which worried her less and allowed her to work quicker. Tita assorted all the memories from the past and made sure that they would stop in his mind right before Mama Elena came into the picture. To do this, she used a vinegar based concoction to remove any signs of Mama Elena in the memories. However, when the birds started singing, which meant that she had less than an hour left, the memories were still settling in the pot of the vinegar based mixture.
It turned out to take longer to remove the images of her mother from the memories than she had expected. But there was no chance of removing them from the pot before they had settled or the mixture would have had no affect at all. More birds began singing which meant she had even less time and the mixture had still not settled, but then she recalled Nacha teaching her that two cloves of garlic would speed up a process of this sort. She tossed exactly two cloves into the mixture which had an immediate effect and the memories settled to the bottom of the pot perfectly, just as she had planned.
As she poured them out it was difficult to separate them but she managed to quickly roll each in bread crust crumbles without a sign of Mama Elena in any of the memories. She covered the inside of the suitcase with her blood that ran from her hands the day she clasped the rose Pedro gave to her. Then she neatly placed the days in February when Pedro and her exchanged immense passion without a single word spoken. Among them was the day that she was carrying a tray of egg-yolk candies when she felt his hot gaze burning her skin and their eyes met with fiery passion.
Also, she included the day she dropped the apricots and as he offered his help, his eyes spotted the smooth skin of her leg that was revealed. She knew he would be burning up by now so she placed a jar of boiling oil with a ball of dough in it to remind him how she herself felt those first few days before they spoke with one another. She then made sure that on top of all of these memories was the day he whispered into her ear that his love for her was undying.
The most difficult task was to prepare and pack the day that she had cooked the Quail in Rose Petal Sauce making sure he would taste it as well as see the passion that was transferred into Gertrudis. As she heard the creaking noise of Mama Elena getting out of bed, she knew the images of hatred were rushing through the air. Nonetheless, Tita was sure to be calm and carefully tie the memories up with a hint of rose. She had little time left, but she still made it so that when Pedro would open the suitcase, he would hear Gertrudis playing the waltz called “the Eyes of Youth” that they heard that passionate February day.
Quickly, she placed the letter she had written the night before on top of it all and sealed the suitcase just before feeling the icy breeze of Mama Elena’s anger rush into the henhouse. The breeze felt cold on her bare skin and the bag was too heavy for her to lift. She had less than a minute to bring the bag out to Nicholas and running out to call for his help would take too long and create too much noise. Tita was about to collapse in fear of her efforts having gone to waste, and tears began to run down her precious cheeks.
Luckily, the sobbing brought Nacha back from the days of cutting onions in the kitchen. Wise as Nacha is, she understood what Tita needed to be done and helped her bring the bag to Nicholas. Tita instructed Nicholas on where to bring the suitcase and remembered the eggs she had put in her pockets when in the henhouse. Just as Mama Elena opened the curtains to look out, Tita managed to walk towards the house with eggs in her hand, as if she were doing her morning chores. Tita entered the house with a smirk on her face and feeling of relief as now she all she had to do was await for Pedro’s return.