In the valley below the mountain, we grow our cane. And in the protective shade of our adobe-slab home, we drink coffee and play cards and wait for the sun to set after a hard day’s work.
We weren’t there when it happened. We had loaded up the truck that day with our week’s shipment, and wouldn’t be back till late. We left Esther and Richie at home since we didn’t need the help.
When the snake bit her, she had about four hours until the poison spread to her heart and killed her. That’s what the doctor told us. We got back that night to find Richie shaking and sobbing in the living room.
Esther had gone for a walk in the heat of the day. She probably hiked to the top of the little hill behind our sugarcane field. It was hot, so she was most likely sweating, and looked for a cool place to sit. That’s when it would have bit her. Pit vipers become extremely aggressive when they feel threatened.
We still live in the valley below the mountain. We still grow our cane. Now when we go to make our weekly shipments, we bring Richie along. We tell him never to wander far from home, but he doesn’t listen and we get into fights and he storms out.
This isn’t how it was supposed to be.