The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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His eyebrows furrowed as his hand gestures became grander than usual. His explanations became shorter but with greater emphasis. He recalled this memory in fear as he had almost lost a dear friend that night. Struck with horror, this is a recollection he will never forget considering that he was the one that brought him to Puerto Rico to look for job opportunities. If he had passed then, he wouldn’t know how he would ever forgive himself. That was only their second day there.

In the dead of night, only the rattle and clangs of chains were audible. Streetlights flickered weakly and the calls of the native mosquito distinctively sung more passionately. After retrieving a wrench from the tool box inside the restaurant, securing the entrance doors was an absolute necessity, unless they wanted to invite thieves, wild dogs or perhaps the wrath of the owner.

“¡Arriba las manos! (Put your hands up!)” yelled an unwelcoming voice. Masked and camouflaged into the time of day, it took time to register the shock of the sudden appearance. The man spouted foreign tongue, but despite that, there was no delay to follow his demands, especially when the gun repeatedly waved from Ming to him. 

Pupils nervously sliding to his right vision, Ming’s arms were down. He knew it would be impossible for him to not understand the situation. That gun was seconds to firing if he did not comply. Ming’s chin lowered towards his chest. He, too, was latched in place by a different chain around his neck—gold. It had been that slight shimmer that had caught the man’s attention.

With a wrench in one hand and with no intention on raising his arms, Ming was an obvious threat. That necklace was one of the only items he had brought along with him to Puerto Rico, and he was definitely not handing it over to some stranger. 

His small attempts to signal his friend to not foolishly act was ignored. His friend’s sharp, yet shaken eyes stared straight at the gunman. He plead that his friend would not be so brave at a moment like this. Fearful of gaining possible witnesses, the trigger was pulled. His last concern was the speed the man had pulled out from the scene. 

Ming laid coldly on the ground, warm pools of red drenching the chilled pavements. Glass scattered a few feet from them similarly to the lenses sprinkled atop of his face. With bloody hands, he hastily dialed his sister’s phone to call for emergency in Spanish. Cursing himself for not knowing the language, he resumed checking Ming’s slow breathing and leaky wound. “Time would have been saved,” he thought.

A hole visibly distinct on the left of the head, he howled for his friend, distressed that the long-awaited ambulance would be too late. Feeling the weak pulse from Ming’s neck, it had taken a few minutes for red lights to span wildly from the end of the empty road. 

His heavy breathing and face-soaked tears didn’t seem to stop as he blamed himself for bringing him to this place, for not speaking Spanish, and for not being able to do anything when he was still standing. “It is all my fault,” he cried out. 

His head then lifted when he heard his voice.

“I will live,” Ming croaked as the ambulance sped to the nearest hospital.

The Second Day

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1995
Guaynabo, Puerto Rico

His eyebrows furrowed as his hand gestures became grander than usual. His explanations became shorter but with greater emphasis. He recalled this memory in fear as he had almost lost a dear friend that night. Struck with horror, this is a recollection he will never forget considering that he was the one that brought him to Puerto Rico to look for job opportunities. If he had passed then, he wouldn’t know how he would ever forgive himself. That was only their second day there.

Decade: 1990s
Rating:
Recorded by Ashley Wu on June 6, 2019
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