My Sisters’ Tender Hearts

By: Anacristina Rossi

Illustrated by: Henry González  

Selection and Compilation: Carolina Fonseca


We’re watching the sun set at the house in the mountains. My sisters’ tender hearts are one with my mother’s in a single block of translucent resin. They don’t know it. It’s something you see from the outside. I see it.

When they leave, when they return to their homes and their things and go through their days, their hearts are engrossed by men, by other women, by other loves. They turn their rich golden curls or their sleek black wings of hair toward the sweet manly or feminine face that calls to them; they respond to others because they are affectionate and loving. But as they lean toward the warm panes of those other eyes that watch them and seek them, they feel a painful wrench that pulls them upright: they are jolted back into place by the block of epoxy, the hardness surrounding their young hearts that joins them to my mother, the rigid block.

They don’t see it, but I can detect it because it is hard, it takes up a lot of space, and it hurts. It fills up all the delicate space in their chests.

A military blockade.

Sometimes I’m happy that their stateliness isolates them and keeps them alone. My sisters’ hearts beat warm and alive in the depths of the amber or epoxy gem. I approach. I gesture to get them to look at me. I send messages to the emotions imprisoned in the solidified amniotic fluid. I tell them that even glass is a viscous liquid and it will therefore change at some point. 

I tell them about the stained-glass windows in certain gothic churches, which are no longer what they were for centuries: I tell them that they, too, can change, break out of the hard shell, the frame.

One of them, the youngest, sometimes listens to me. Her heart begins to beat faster and it suddenly fractures the substance restraining it along a single 45-degree crack. She shakes off the bits of amber and looks at me; she peers at me as if asking: “Now what do I do?” because my sister is afraid of the unknown.

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