The Enemy

The small wooden house warmed up like an oven on high heat. Reyes had risen early to cook breakfast in the fogón for her family. The smoke billowing out was trapped inside by the tin roof, causing the room to become unbearably warm.

Reyes opened the front door hoping to get a breeze despite the humid early morning. The caña stalks grazed each other. There was a slight wind, but the front door wasn’t enough to let it fully in. She opened the slates to a window, breathing in the scents of the grass, palm trees, and overturned soil.

Her 3 older children, ranging from 2 to 4 years old, were already up and playing quietly in the corner of the cramped room. Her youngest, a few months old, stayed sleeping in the bed they shared. She hoped he slept a little longer so she could eat before having to feed him.

Reyes allowed herself a few more breaths before turning back to her task. In the low light of the rising sun, she glanced at her youngest and thought she saw a shadow. She crept towards the bed, not wanting to wake him. She was about to dismiss the shadow when she saw the glint of a pointed tail.

A black scorpion crept along the thin blanket towards her son. She gasped, glancing over at her other 3 girls still a safe distance away. She needed to act fast without alerting them…or the enemy. At that moment her son wiggled in his sleep, his lips pursed seeking the milk he was going to be hungry for in a moment.

The scorpion didn’t like his world being shaken. His pinchers lifted snapping the air. His tail unfurled, the dreaded point shimmering in the low light.

Reyes prayed her son would not wake up. He snuggled into his spot and drifted back to sleep to her relief. She continued her predatory walk, eyes never leaving the enemy and his advance across the blanket to her son. If he reached and stung him, it would be certain death. They were too far in the campo to get to the city doctor on time.

Her son squirmed again, and the scorpion swayed his tail as he positioned himself on her son’s chest over the blanket. Reyes begged God to protect him, sweat dripped down the middle of her back.

The scorpion’s tail quivered, and his pinchers widened as he prepared to strike. She reached the bed and grabbed the blanket, flipping it off to the side away from her children. She watched as the scorpion sailed through the air towards the door.

He gathered himself and made to scurry back in, but she had her broom ready and pounced on him, shooing him out the door in a battered hurry. He would not darken her door again.

Reyes sighed, thanking the Lord for saving her son. She heard his distant cry and sprang into action. This time, she was grateful to hear him and the murmuring giggles of her girls.