“Have you seen God, Maria? – I’ve been looking for him all day.”
“I haven’t seen him since last week. Wait you mean Jesus right? Yes, he was in here just last Tuesday,” said Maria.
“No not that boy, I’ve been looking for God. I haven’t seen him in a good while.”
“Never mind,” said Cristina.

She dragged her hand across the counter. She wiped the counter till the green faded to the khaki grain underneath it. She scribbled the name, Emmanuel, into the counter–again. Her fingers traced the letters, waiting for a splinter to prick her finger, pierce her skin then draw blood.

“What’s that you’ve got there?” She took an object that her son was fiddling with. It was a button from his daddy’s jacket. He must have held on so tight, that as his daddy walked through the door, the jacket let the button go. Though he was only two years old, this boy knew love–some kind of love; and would miss his father dearly.

He worried about his daughter as she seemed to lose herself in the store. They had disappeared when she lost Emmanuel. Her baby was the last good thing that she had and it seemed that God found her undeserved of joy. He couldn’t help but wonder if she were paying for his sins as well. When her mother left he wasn’t eager to live and it seemed as though Cristina was following in his shoes now. “Why doesn’t life make any sense?” he asked.

“Hey, where are the brooms, I have to get started on the stairs?” asked Jesus. “I don’t know, I don’t care.”
“Damn Cristina, does your period ever end? Don’t take out your pains
on me. You are on long-term PMS. Get it together.”
“Jesus, you are disgusting.”
“The truth always is.” He chuckles, and walks away.
“Iraq? Christ. I thought they weren’t going to need your unit Sulay. Iraq.

I miss you. Come home to me, in one piece.”
“My love, don’t worry…”
“Be careful. Make sure and avoid any accidents!”
“Cristina, if you worry yourself to death I won’t be seeing you when I get
back. I have faith and you, what’s the worst that could happen?” “I love you.”
“I love you too.”

“Jesus said you were in a bad mood. What’s wrong?” Her father asked her. “Nothing.” She said, thumbing over the engraving of Emanuel on the counter. “Life doesn’t make sense, and I don’t expect it to…”
“Honey, I know its hard to let go, but…”
“I know, I know… But when you bury the dead you don’t dig them up for display.” She muttered, “you’ve been saying that ever since Momma died trying to leave us.”
“No—only when you are at ease can they finally rest in peace.”

She wiped the moisture from her cheek and felt a warm wind blowing behind her at the graves. “Huh,” she gasped looking over her shoulder, “there You are.”

Darrel Holnes studies creative writing at the University of Houston where he is an Undergraduate Research Fellow and a Provost Scholar. He is a member of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honors Society and makes his home in both Panama and Houston, Texas.