A lot of you—seriously, more of you than I ever expected—said you’d like to see slice of life vignettes with the Los Nefilim characters. Little stories along the lines of “A Rose, A Dragon” aren’t hard to write, and these little shorts also work as characters studies for me.
So I added a category for Los Nefilim Snippets in the sidebar. That way, if you miss one, you can find it easily.
The following snippet has floated in the back of my mind from time-to-time. The sequel to Where Oblivion Lives is called Carved from Stone and Dream, and it takes place several years after the events in Where Oblivion Lives. In Carved from Stone and Dream, Rafael is fourteen and he plays a much more prominent role in the story. As I wrote his character, I thought a lot about the difference between Diago’s and Miquel’s personalities and their parenting skills.
Miquel is angel-born and more likely to use martial means to solve his problems. Diago tends to fall back on diplomacy. In Carved from Stone and Dream, we see the end result of Diago’s and Miquel’s parenting. But before Rafael grew into an emotionally stable youth, he suffered his own growing pains.
Here, we see the diamond in the rough:
March 12, 1933
The front door opened and then snicked shut quietly. In the kitchen, Diago glanced at his watch. Across the table from him, Miquel stubbed his cigarette in a tin ashtray. They exchanged a glance. It was too early for Rafael to be home, yet Diago recognized his son’s soft tread on the floor.
And he’s sneaking … which never indicated good news. Diago lowered his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. Please don’t let him be in trouble again …
Miquel leaned back in his chair, so he could see into the living the room. “Rafael? Why is school out?” A frown creased his husband’s mouth. “What happened to your face?”
Diago dropped his hand, alarm spreading through his chest. “What’s wrong with his face?” He rose and went to the kitchen door.
Rafael had already crossed the small living room and stood at the hallway’s entrance. At eight, he’d finally begun to acquire some height, though he was still small for his age. Dust coated the wild curls surrounding the lacerations on his face. His shirt was torn and his pants ripped.
He paused and smoothed first his hair and then his shirt with one hand. With the other, he twisted the strap holding his schoolbooks together. A large bruise blackened one eye and the side of his face.
Swallowing hard, he met Diago’s gaze. “It’s okay, Papá. Doña Juanita says it’s just a bruise and it’s already healing and it’s okay.”
Miquel joined Diago, standing just behind him. “Wow, that’s a shiner. What does the other guy look like?”
Diago nudged Miquel silent with his elbow. “Why were you fighting?”
“Georgio called me a monkey again.”
“And then you hit him?”
“No, I did what you said. I tried to be nice and I asked him to please stop calling me a monkey and then he started singing that I was a monkey from Morocco, and when I told him to shut up, he shoved me.”
Diago winced. “So why did you get sent home?”
Rafael glanced at Miquel. “Because this time I hit him back like Miquel told me to do, and it felt good, because I was really mad, so I hit him again. And then Emilia hit me to make me stop hitting Georgio, so Violeta hit Emilia, and then Ysa hit Georgio with a rock … at least, I think that’s what happened, because Ysa had her slingshot in her hand and Georgio was yelling and there was blood everywhere …”
Diago lifted his hand. “You may stop now.”
Rafael exhaled and looked down, feigning contriteness that wasn’t reflected in his eyes. “I’m really tired and my head hurts. May I go to my room?”
The play for sympathy fell flat with Diago. If Juanita had examined Rafael, then she gave him aspirin. If he thinks Miquel is going to smooth this over for him, then he has another thing coming. “Where was Father Bernardo during all this?”
Resigned to his interrogation, Rafael exhaled a long-suffering sigh. “Inside the church grading papers. He came out and broke up the fight when Georgio started screaming about murder; although I don’t think Ysa was trying to kill him.”
“She should have,” Miquel snapped.
Diago elbowed his husband again, more sharply this time.
“Ow!” Miquel put some distance between them. “What was that for? Georgio is twelve years old and in his second-born life. He is almost as big as I am. He has no business picking on Rafael.”
Knowing he had an ally in Miquel, Rafael nodded. “Father Bernardo broke up the fight. He pulled Georgio off me and I think that’s when my coat ripped, and oh”—he reached into his jacket and gave Diago a note—“Father Bernardo wants to talk to you and Miquel. I think you’re in trouble this time.”
“I’m not in trouble.” Diago took the note and shot his husband a poisoned glare.
Miquel stiffened. “What do you want? That Georgio beats him up everyday? Rafael needs to learn to fight back.”
Diago scanned the note. “You can explain that parental philosophy to Father Bernardo when we meet with him in an hour.”
Miquel shrugged. “You can handle it. I’m meeting with Guillermo.”
Diago gave the note to Miquel. “Not anymore. Guillermo is going to be there, too. See?” He snapped the paper with his fingers.
Anger flashed through Miquel’s dark eyes as he glanced at the page and then back to Diago. “Why are you looking at me like that? This isn’t my fault.”
“Who taught him to fight?”
“I taught him to stick up for himself.”
“Really? After you promised me—”
Rafael fidgeted. “Are you two going to fight now, because—?”
“We’re not fighting,” they said in unison.
The phone rang, jolting them all to silence. Miquel went to answer, jerking the handset from the cradle. “Miquel.” He closed his eyes as he listened. “Yes … yes … he’s fine … no, we were just talking about that … of course. I’ll see you in an hour.” Replacing the handset, he stood for a moment with his head bowed. “That was Guillermo. I’m going, too.”