The next day most of the men continued work on the refinery, which was undamaged. Ryan cleared off the road near the truck refueling area. He hosed the mud-caked asphalt and moved big branches to the side. As he worked, his mind drifted to his mother. He remembered when she took him to the movies, got him ice cream as a boy. And years later, when she rattled around the kitchen swearing loudly in the middle of the night. How he found her asleep on the couch in the morning, burned out cigarette in hand with a long tail of untapped ash curling from the filter.
Almost a foot of mud coated the pavement. He washed it away, taking his time as he approached the intersection with the main road. A soft prickling touched the top of his head. He looked around but didn’t see anything unusual at first. When he looked back, he dropped the hose. Three feet from him stood a little girl wearing no clothes or shoes. Her stare was not altogether friendly.
Ryan squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. He opened them. She was still there. He tried again to close his mind, but the spirit would not go away.
“Who are you?” he said. She looked about seven or eight, maybe younger. Her features were angular, her skin a dark olive. He looked into her eyes and saw her memories. She was kneeling before a tree stump, her wrists bound. He saw the arc of a blade descending and her hands fell to the ground.
She followed his gaze to her wrists.
I did not find enough gold. Her lips were still, but he understood her.
She cringed. That is the word the priest said when they cut me.
Ryan took a few deep breaths. The Taíno girl waited.
“Are you the one who spoke to me up on the iron?” he said.
She turned. Not me. The white woman wants show you something.