Every year, Papa grinds limestone over a hot fire for eight hours to make lime, a white plaster. He brings it to the village, where laborers spread it over the great pyramids of our gods.
One day, Papa gets in trouble. The government official clambers into our tiny unit and points an accusatory finger at my father. “You didn’t make enough lime. The Pyramid of the Moon is half-naked.”
Papa looks nervous. “I tried,” he tells the man. “But the pine trees are all gone. I couldn’t find enough wood.”
I’m afraid Papa will be sacrificed. But it doesn’t come to that. By nightfall, all the government buildings, the temples, are melting under orange flames. The night sky is hot with blood. Mangled bodies of the elite litter the ground.
The next morning, I travel to the river to try to purify my body from the horrors of last night. Next to the river, a tiny tree has sprouted. I touch the delicate leaves with my fingers and promise, “I’ll make sure Papa doesn’t burn you. We need you.”
Image from “Pirámide de la Luna en Teotihuacán” by -AngieZ – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pir%C3%A1mide_de_la_Luna_en_Teotihuac%C3%A1n.jpg#/media/File:Pir%C3%A1mide_de_la_Luna_en_Teotihuac%C3%A1n.jpg