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The world is over. NononoitcantbeitisnotrightwhereismamáwhereisAlmaIdontwanttotakecareofthebabyIwanttothrowupicantfocusatallIdonteverfeelwellanymorepleasehelpmesomeonebreathebreatheeverythinghurtsmamáalwayssaidthatbreathebetheoneincontrolofyourselfbreathe. Breathe. Be the one in control of yourself. Breathe. Again, start again, control yourself.

The world is over. Well, not exactly. Your world is over, that world is over. Only you and he remain. So very small, so strong.

Sometimes, in the dead of night, when he sleeps and his silence allows you to appreciate all the nocturnal noises, you fantasize the idea of closing your eyes and thennothing. A void of nothingness, without limbs nor fears nor desires nor guilt nor tears nor anything, just not-being.

You are not sure how it all ended but, without a doubt, the fever was the epilogue. The heat and sweat melted you away while your mind floated unstable, threatening to turn into foam. You were aware but could barely react. By the time you were someone again everything had changed, only you two were left.

You managed to get up. It was because of the crying. The sound rattling inside your head, you didn't even understand what it was, pure noise, a painful shriek. You followed the sound and the buzzing in your head served as a sonarguided you towards the front door until, finally, you saw him and almost instantly the screams began to make sense. Mommy mommy mommy mommy. You whispered his name, speaking was painful and you didn't recognize your voice, but he did. He looked at you and the silence that came from his awe was like fresh air, without hesitation he raised his arms and you picked him up. He pointed to the door.

No, no, we can't go out... Before you could say anything else, the crying returned with the same mantra, the same force that crushed your skull. As you rocked him in your arms and rubbed his back, you thought his throat would end up tearing, you thought your ears would burst. You don't remember how long it was before he fell asleep in your arms, but he fell asleep, and in the midst of that silence you started crying. In the midst of the stupor something awoke in you (WhereisAlma?).

That's how it started. Several days have already passed. You haven’t even recovered completely, you are not sure that you can, but you feel more in control of your body, the dizziness is less constant. The pain is still present, a tension in your muscles, in your joints, as though they oppose your control. You get tired really fast. You can't hold him for more than a few moments at a time. Come on, now you, you can do it alone. You try to sound sweet while you talk and put him back down on the ground. You are in awe of how fast he crawls, almost as much awe as when he chooses to walk, even if it is slower, clumsier.

The days go by and the pain diminishes, yours and his—your body continues to oppose your will, but it is no longer as heavy; his crying lessens, it’s still there but it no longer tears at the air.

He still points at the door with such stubbornness, knocking on it, yelling something at you that you swear is "let's go". Sometimes, almost always, you want to yell at him, grab him by force and shake him and yell at him again. You almost always manage to control yourself, with so much pain it is difficult to be anything more complex than jaded, you almost never get angry, not really. Though you struck him in the face the other day. You took off your sweatshirt, you had to wash it, it was covered in puke and sweat (stop s t o p stopwhyIwascoveredinpukeandshit p u k e a n d s h i t), then he fell flat on the floor (alwaysalwaysthethesecondI’m not lookingathimsomethinghappens a l w a y s m y f a u l t) and you picked him up. Once in your arms, with soaked eyelashes, he saw your chest and smiled. Milk. He brought his face close and you felt his tiny hand on your breast. You didn't think about it. With an open palm, you slapped him, you felt his nose, the water hanging from his eyelashes. Back to crying.

The guilt grips your throat. Imsososorrysorrysorry. (Imhorribleicanticanticantimhorriblehelp). You breathe in deeply, your head buzzes, you breathe again. You put him down on the ground. You remember what Alma did, you sigh and speak to him as softly as the frustration allows you. Are you sad? yes. Do you want me to hug you? yes. You wrap your arms around him and let him keep crying. Are you sad because you wanted milk? yes. I'm sorry, I can't, not like this, but there's the bottle, do you want that milk? yes.

With the passing days and the repetition, this becomes a small routine that you both master step by step, you repeat it daily and every so often. It makes his tantrums shorter. Are you sad? Are you mad? Is it because we can't get out? Is it because I have to change you? Yes, yes, yes, yes.

These ritual games are your best tool. When he falls or hurts himselfhe runs now, even though there is no room and the furniture is right at the height of his headyou ask: Do you want me to cast a little spell? yes. Heal, heal, froggy tail, if today it doesn’t heal tomorrow it sure will. You sing and massage the area and make sure it’s nothing more than a bruise, and to finish, a thunderous kiss that makes him laugh.

In the last couple of days, the exhaustion has gotten worse and you are sleepier than normal (Imsosotiredicant s l e e pmorethanthreehours the n i g h t ma r e s the b a b y please p l e a s e I justwantto s le e p). Your hands are swollen, and deep down you begin to suspect that the disease only gave you a truce that is about to end. All were warned that it was dangerous to flee the urban area, the air outside is not clean, young people’s bodies don’t know how to breathe the filth in the air.

Nevertheless, you get up and you try to get through the day, there is so much to do. There are always things to do (n o t t h i n k i n g n o t r e m e m b e r i n g). You make him help you, even if the chores take twice as long to get done. You heat the food (theysaidtherewasfoodandenergyforayearwhatamIgonnadowhenwhatwhat). You sweep and he holds the dustpan (WhatamIgonnadoIjustmovethetrashfromoneplacetoanother a n o t h e r another what Im gonna do whenthereisnomoreroom). You have to heat the water to bathe him (Imgonnarunoutof w a t e r the c i s t e r n how m u c h water i s l e f t? nonononono). Your vision clouds, the urge to cry creeps up from your throat. Come on, I'll carry you to the kitchen. No You. Something that could be a laugh escapes your mouth. Are you going to carry me? No, no, You ichen. As he says it he hits his chest. You don't understand, but you bend over to pick him up. No, no, You lone! You, You. He keeps hitting his chest with his hand. You. You. He repeats the word and the blow. An idea shimmers inside you. Are you going alone to the kitchen? Yes. He does laugh then, out of sheer joy and with nothing to blur the laughter. Don't you want me to carry you? No, You lone. He is happy, smiles, and starts walking to the kitchen. Alone. You have a lump in your throat, this is more practical, but you wonder why you didn’t realize until now that carrying him was more than just tiring.

Then (fuckingluckfuckitthatsjustmy f u c k i n g l u c k isnotenough screwing t h e b a b y u p) you feel the viscous heat on your labia, the blood runs down your thighs, soft and slow, your womb pulses. You find some relief in knowing that your body and the world have finally synchronized. Chaotic, against you, they devour within and without. You squat down and let the tears spill, snot overflows your face, you moan and dig your nails into your arms.

Bel, Bel, Bel, Bel!

He stands in front of you and calls out your name, what he can pronounce of your name at least. You are amazed and for a moment you stop crying, at least to stare at him. Bel sad? Yes. He stretches his arms and tries to surround you with them, he hugs you. I'm fine, I'm fine, but my tummy hurts, nothing’s wrong. You pat his head and try to smile. He lets go and puts his little hand on your stomach. eeeeeeeel, eeeel, foggy taaaail. As he speaks, he gives you tiny, sharp strokes, when he finishes he leans in and leaves a thunderous kiss on his own hand. You feel like crying again. Instead, you get up and go to the bathroom for a pad, you have to make sure the doors and windows are still closed, you have to make him run and play long enough for him to take his nap early, you have to clean up, you have to clean him up, you have just so much to do. There is no more time for crying. (Ihavetobeginto c a l l h i m byhis N A M E.)

The night swallows everything, he sleeps and your mind wanders, you float from one memory to another, you try not to be, not to focus on anything in particular. One thought and then the next, let them flow until you fall asleep. One of your arms is numb but you don't move it for fear of waking him up. Calm is a rare commodity. He talks more and more, yells, grumbles, noise and more noise, always.

You don't understand why he doesn't stay where he is. Why does he try so hard to talk more? He said a couple of words and you could understand them. There was no need to learn more, to move on to sentences that he doesn't master and you don't understand. Babbling. You don’t understand him and he repeats with impressive firmness and patience, but you still don’t understand him. A couple more times before you can decipher the message. And that's not the only thing. He wants to do everything alone. He asks for water and while you hold the glass he makes it very clear that he will do it. Noo, you lone. You're about to put the shampoo on him and he extends his little hand, Noo, You, You. Why does he need to be more than he already is?

You are envious of him. He can be happy, completely and absolutely happy, even if only at times. He can also be pure rage, kicking and screaming for no other purpose than to overflow with wrath. Or he can be an immeasurable sadness. Perhaps he is a fairy, capable of holding only one emotion in his body, only one: immense, pure, total. It’s easier to understand that he is of a mystical nature, something fantastic, you cannot conceive him as something else. Although he grows daily. How is it that such a little body will grow to be like you? Will he be like Alma? Sometimes you think you see her in his eyes, in his expressions.

It's such a peculiar thing, to grow up; such an odd thing, childhood ( a l w a y s g r o w i n g t oo f a s t). There is something so safe there, the world may be falling apart and it doesn't matter because that's all you know. You exist in a state of constant amazement, everything is renewed every second. You didn't want to go and leave everything behind. But there was no choice. Surely the house doesn’t even exist anymore. Everything was fine before. You didn't have to take care of anyone, you weren't alone. Now everything is complicated, lethargic, lightning-fast. But he is indifferent to all that, for him this is the world, no matter how broken it is.

Emotions melt into the chaos that is existence, you've been locked up in here for months and you can't even say you're miserable. You like it when he laughs or when he's sleepy and melts in your arms. You like it when you can make canned food look appetizing. You laugh with sincerity and guilt as you think of Alma and mamá and the cat you had to leave behind, before fleeing here.

Even now, when insomnia keeps you up, you are enjoying the calm. His soft, deep breaths. The nocturnal noises make you wonder what has become of the world. (s o m e t h i n g m u s t r e m a i n n o t  the house n o r the cat but there MUST BE a house a cat. I know.)

It’s raining very softly, the sound of the water lulls you, you go over all the names you know for that clatter: drizzling, chipi-chipi, pringar. It must be the middle of summer, it was terribly hot this afternoon, you didn't even open the windows. He shifts a little next to you, stretches and curls. You sigh.

He was born for change, for survival. He was born sick and feverish and with a body that the world seemed about to reject. You remember your own fever well, the abstinence from clean air that still has vestiges in your body and you don’t understand how someone so small endured all that. Perhaps the disease didn’t fit inside his body either.

Before it falls you can feel it, the heat in your vulva, and a swelling that is not quite unpleasant. You let it flow, let it run. Four months. Change doesn’t stop in you either, your body and your mind go forward, you don’t know where, but they don’t stop moving. This home-ecosystem you inhabit shrinks as the two of you keep moving forward. Each at their own pace, but together.

The rain won't stop. You want a cigarette. Both things are making the anxiety crawl all over your skin. The rain goes on, hasn’t stopped, this isn't normal, this doesn't happen here. You really want a cigarette, you don’t feel nauseous anymore, and you can see the water stains on the walls, you want a cigarette. He is hitting the door, he can already reach the knob and tries to turn it, but he has no idea of what a key is and has even less of an idea about where a key could be. You keep watching the stain, it looks like a map. Bel, es gooo, You ann Bel, go. He cries and pushes the door. You need a cigarette.

The sky tears apart and falls down. White light floods the outside and pours inside wherever it can, almost merciful, it gives you time to cover his ears, then the roar that seems to reach inside him, he won't stop trembling. He hugs you in despair, claws his nails into you, you try to rock him and, when the thunder stops, you whisper in his ear. Everything is fine, it's just light and noise, just light and noise. It shouldn’t rain like this. The map in the wall grows, it almost seems like it's beating as it expands its territory. Another flash, hands to ears, another thunder, you don't stop rocking your body back and forth. It's just light and noise, nothing bad,  I’m here, we are here. 

You don't know how long it lasted, but it was long enough to fear, to think that it might never stop. But it stopped, he fell asleep in your arms and you followed him. The smell of wet earth woke you up (mamá told me the name: petrichor, that's what it's called). While your consciousness and your body synchronize and leave the drowsiness behind, you discover something new. You don't quite understand what it is. Your skin feels fresh, your neck and shoulders ache, he is still in your arms, curled up. But there is an unusual clarity in everything, it isn’t the light, it is your mind, it comes from you. You take a deep breath, the air is fresh.

You try to get up without waking him, but at the first movement, he opens his eyes, turns around, he can feel it too. Hi, would you go with me in search of something? Yes, est go. You both follow the scent, the skin serves as a guide towards that new, fresh cold.

It's from the room where you gather the garbage, in the back. Before, it was a storeroom for everything that had no place. The floor is full of water, a tiny ocean, full of garbage. The windows were smashed, probably last night during the storm. A ray of light enters through the broken window, you can see the specks of dust in the air, the fresh air. Clarity comes from the air in your lungs, from air filled with earth and water.

There is a lump in your throat that grows with every second. All this time making sure that nothing comes in, that nothing comes out, with the remnants of the fever controlling you, and you trying to get control over anything, even if it was the air. Everything is useless now, the world forced its way in. You rub your eyes. You're about to cry when you turn to see him. He is paralyzed.

His eyes wide open, with that light that comes from within, black eyelashes framing the iris that gleams like fish scales. Mouth open in a perfect circle. All his surprise doesn’t fit inside his body. He doesn't even speak. He reaches out his hand, brings it closer to the light, stops a few millimeters away, unsure. Then you realize, it's the first time. This is new. Without precedent.

It is the first time he can see dust like this. You kneel next to him and try to experience something new: seeing things from his perspective.

They float, minuscule, precise, the light touches them, no,'s as if the light’s created them, from this angle, against the light, they seem to shine from the inside, like his eyes. They are part of all the light that filters through the window; grainy light, light concentrated in small particles, they float and fall with a slowness that doesn’t belong to this world.

You feel his little hand on yours. They are specks of dust, look, nothing happens if you touch them. You stretch out your free hand, you feel the light licking your skin with warmth. You, You. You smile. Yes, you can also try to touch them, it´s ok. (It’s ok.) He runs over the water and immerses his body in the light.

The world changed, it stopped being what it was and became something more. You lost almost everything, almost. What's left is enough, you and him. Both so very small, so strong.

You get ready, with so much rain there must be purslanes out there, and hopefully, you will find pitayas, Alma said there were some near here. Hopefully, you will find out something about her. (Pleaseplease.)

There must be more, more like the both of you. You both need it. Ineedit. There must be more. You breathe in deeply and feel your body, yours, constant movement and change. Mineminemine. It is not a shell or a cage, it is you, no matter how much it hurts; supporting legs and holding hands. The ecosystem of everything that you are and that allows you to survive. You exhale. Your world needs to grow. More space. More people. More words. You scream his name with excitement. He looks at you with joy, with fresh eyes and a face that doesn’t belong to a baby but isn’t yet that of a child. Let's go. You point to the door and put the key in the lock. He runs towards you.

You? Bel?

Yes, together, you and I, Ona and Bel.

Diana Barberena-Jonas (1993) studied Spanish Teaching as a Foreign Language at the UNAM and the Certificate Program in Literary Translation at the ENALLT. She is a member of the translation collective Falsos Amigos, with whom she coordinated and translated the Spanish version of the Sci-Fi anthology The Future is Female! She is part of the Seminar of Science Fiction Aesthetics from the INBAL ( You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.