Enrique C. Varela

 Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust


Enrique C. Varela is a writer that writes for people that do not like to read. People like drop-outs, inmates, caga palos. He has been a paraplegic since the tender age of nineteen but that hasn't stopped his drive to become a great Chicano writer.

After earning his GED, he enrolled at Oxnard College in their Film, TV, and Electronic Media program and earned an A.A. He transferred out to UCSB, where he earned a B.A. in Spanish and a Writing Minor.

Enrique has held various internships. He has interned as a school interpreter interpreting for Spanish-speaking parents and worked on the editorial team at Startling Lines literary journal (UCSB's anthology of school writing). He also interned at Univision as a creative for a short time but found out pretty quickly it wasn't for him. He wasn't a salesman. He was a writer.

 Since the time he was let go from the workforce (two years ago), Enrique c. Varela has spent his time in front of a computer screen manifesting his short stories & spec scripts to become the best damn writer he could be.


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"Well, viejo. It's done. Just like you wanted". Margarita puts the lid back on the barro urn that held her husband Arturos' ashes and pulverized bones. "I dumped you right where you wanted. In the spot the tree landed on you." 

"Que cochino eres viejo", she sharply says. "Even in death, you are still dirty." She pats her shapely hips and shakes loose grey powder off her long black dress the wind had kicked up. "And don't expect me to come to see you all the time over here. I hate driving the mountainous roads to get here. You know the curbs have always scared me!". Her scowl shows the crevices on her face time slowly carved. She waves her accusing finger at the fat sequoia tree towering over her. Towering over the whole sierra. The sequoia tree seems to comb the greñas of the wispy clouds.

A strong gust of wind picks up, stronger than before, and resuscitates the leaves. The smell of sawdust is strong. "Oye Vieja. ¡Vieja!". Arturo's voice echoes off the unperturbed ridges of the sierra, off the boulders peeking out from under the ground like moles, off the rotting lumber of toppled trees serving as condos for skittish California quail and sleepless northern pygmy owls, off the endless ripples of her memory. She incredulously turns around. She sees nothing but yellow rays of sunshine beaming between dancing leaves like strobe lights in a dance hall. "I'm hearing stuff, now" she mumbles to herself.

"No, you're not! Look up mensa", rumbles the voice of Arturo. Margarita stares at the protruded roots of the massive tree with suspicious eyes. Her detective's eyes willed her to stare at the soft-skinned and synched trunk. Her heart tugged at her to look up, all the way up, at the cloudy leaves a mile into the heavens. Another gust of wind blows. The branches of the sequoia tree near the top sway seductively as if they're the arms of a belly dancer. 

She looks down almost bursting into tears. "The lack of oxygen is getting to me", she says while ever so subtlety shaking her head. "I'm hearing things now".  She rubs her forehead back and forth confounded by the voice of her husband. She has heard his whispers before. In the misery of longing for his embrace, when watching a movie, they had seen together or when cooking mole de pollo, his favorite dish, but not with the clarity she heard his voice just now.

Margarita feels a prickly tap on her head. She looks up and sees a branch waving at her like a dislodged octopus tentacle caught in the morning tide. 

"It's me vieja! Your babe. I miss you! Te quiero. I want you to join me here in Omeyocan. In the realm of the 13 heavens. I want you to get cremated too and dumped at the foot of this tree with me so we can be together forever here. Feeding this tree."  

"No! Ya te dije! I'm not going to get cremated. Then I won't be able to enter heaven and see my parents", Margarita yells with passion towards the heavens. Her eyes were fiery enough to start a forest fire if not careful. 

"Cálmate vieja. Cálmate vieja" the tree pleads with the enraged woman. "Don't tell me what to do!", she yells passionately. She is soon knocked down by a gale-force wind that sends her to her sentaderas and lifts the bottom of her black dress over her head. "Asshole", she says pounding her fist on the good earth like a farm foreman.

The breeze kicks up and the leaves start singing again. "Mira vieja. That stuff they told us at church was all bullshit. It was thought up by leechee Middle Ages royalty to keep their grip on society. Science was surging and so was the monetary system. They needed to do something. But there was no closing pandoras box and the church knew this." "No digas eso, Arturo. It's blasphemous" says Margarita with the fear of repent in her eyes.

"Your parents aren't in heaven seated next to God nor Jesus nor the holy spirit, y menos La Virgen de Guadalupe. Apparently, they didn't deposit enough coin in the collectas to buy their way into heaven. They're in Mictlan. I can see their wretched world from here. I don't want you to go to Mictlan. I want you to join me here in heaven". The leaves stop singing their watery chant. Arturo's voice fades away with the dying wind. 

"Arturo? Arturo come back?!". Margarita clasps her hands together and pleads with the giant sequoia tree. "Tell me more Arturo. Does it hurt when you die? Did you see a bright light? Did your life flash before your eyes?". Agony and ecstasy radiate from her trembling lips. The wind comes to life kicking up dirt, pine needles, and bone, and sawdust fragrance.

"No seas mensa vieja. Of course, it doesn't hurt. And there's no bright light ushering you in. That's just your brain shutting down like an old p.c. It's the opposite. It's liberating. No more pain, no more stress, no more self-doubt ever again. No more pushing that weight. You won't even feel the eternal flames fry your fat and melt your eyebrows. As a matter of fact, I was observing my bar-b-que from outside of the oven, hovering over the crematorium like it was nobody’s business. It smelled like the funeraria was roasting a ham, to tell you the truth". 

"No seas sangrón Arturo ", she rebuffs the giant sequoia tree with the laughing leaves. "No, en serio", responds Arturo. "I want you here next to me. In paradise. I can't live in eternal bliss without you. No matter how beautiful the 13 universes are, my universe is incomplete without your galaxy".  

"What do you mean?" she asks slightly leaning her head to her right. "Let's infuse our love within this tree. Let's embrace each other in eternal everythingness". " I don't know about getting dumped here on the dirt, Arturo. Have you seen all the bugs crawling around? I hate the forest." She grabs a handful of sweet dirt and lunges it in the air. A gust kicks up. The dirt flies back in the face of Margarita. 

Margarita rubs her red eyes. "Pero vieja. I love you. Be with me here. Our auras can play hide and seek in the hills all day long like we used to when we were kids. Mira vieja, you rescued me from my immoral ways and now I want to rescue you. I want to rescue you from the hypocritical chain the church has placed around your soul. Together our ashes will nourish this tree and raise it to the heavens. Where you want to be. And don't worry about the bugs. They're part of the earth too."

"What do I need to do?" she pleads with the huge sequoia tree. "Wait. I figured out a way we can be together and you don't have to be cremated and we can still nourish this tree. Just stand still" Arturo dictates. A loud crack reverberates in the sweet pine mountain air. She looks up. She squints and begins to cover her face with her hands. A thick branch races her way like a diving hawk. "This better not hurt Arturo".

Rays of light perforate the misty morning giving off an ambiance like living swiss cheese. Nimble short furred deer and burly grizzly bears forage for springtime berries. And the leaves eternally sing the love song of Margarita and Arturo.    











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