A boy practises being dead from the Corona flu.
|Salty lay splayed on the kitchen floor with his eyes closed. He’d been lying there for almost an hour now. He was six-years old.
His real name was Sandino, but his ten-year-old sister, Maria, couldn’t pronounce the name and called him Salty. The name seemed to fit.
Luz, his mother, had asked him twice to go up to bed if he wanted to sleep. She had been wiping the table and the counter with a bleach and water mix and had been forced to step over him numerous times. Once she pretended to step on him. He didn’t move. She tickled him in the armpits. No reaction.
This frightened her. It was unprecedented. Salty’s armpits were his weakness. His Achilles heel.
Luz sat back on her knees. She saw he was breathing. She felt his forehead. He had no temperature. “Sandino, stop this now!” she said.
He didn’t move.
“Maria!” she called.
Maria came into the kitchen from the living room. She stood in the doorway, looking down at her brother on the floor.
“Maria. . .?” Her mother waited for an answer.
Maria hunched her shoulders and shook her head and raised both arms in the air.
“He’s practicing being dead.”
“I told him he was going to get the virus.”
“April Fools joke.”
“You won’t die, mijo,” Luz told him gently.
“Tell him, Maria!”
“You won’t die, April fool!” Maria said.
Salty sat up. His eyes moved slowly to fix sadly on his sister. His lips quivered with a silent question: “How could you?” Then his hands covered his face as he pretended to cry.
Maria was sent directly to her room.
Salty was given a kiss and allowed to watch television. The latter, a rare event.
“April Fools,” he whispered.