by Quintan Ana Wikswo

It’s a bright moon night in Ciudad Juarez and the girl gets out of Marisa’s bed after sex and walks barefoot to the bathroom and she steps on a stick. Some kind of crazy painful kind of stick.

Downstairs, Octavio says there’s nothing to be done about it. He calls the woman from around the corner, she’s a nurse, and she arrives with an old gold electroplate stopwatch. Octavio and the nurse sit next to the girl, with the tiny golden hand clicking round and round in its glass orb and Octavio’s sister Marisa brings down the black scorpion in a jar. It’s a twist of wire. Thirsty. It’s a knife machine.

Marisa says, if she’s really a bruja, this won’t kill her.

The scorpion is dead. She pours last night’s mescal in the jar and sits it on a shelf with the others, for good luck. For everything good, mescal. And for everything bad, as well.

Octavio says, if it kills her, it’s no big deal. He shrugs.

In Mexico, he says to her, death is no big deal.

Octavio and the girl used to get it on, fast and black and low down, they were bugs skittering from the light at night. He’s like a father to her. He’s the one always left standing. He’s the man who survives the end of time. He looks down at the watch.

The watch is ticking close to the eleven minute mark, which is how long it takes a witch to die of a Sonoran black scorpion sting.

Octavio says, our mother had twelve children, but only the two of us lived.

He wraps the girl’s hair around his index finger and tugs.

He says, You will meet the rest of our sisters and my brothers soon.

He says, Death will be a great place for you. You’ll like it better over there. You’ll be reborn. My family will greet you with firecrackers. And food.

Marisa says, they will greet her with a crucifix and an axe. 

Perhaps, Octavio says, perhaps with a little of everything.

They look at the girl and then they look at the stopwatch.

Ten and a half minutes, they say.

You’ll be fine, they say. Either way, they say. You’ll see.

Published in Performed at Le Poisson Rouge, May 2013