Itzel
jd daniels
Doorknobs Winner
Maize is sacred to the Mayan because it connects us with our ancestors 
                                       — Juana Batz Puac, k`iche` Maya, Day Keeper  

The American woman with hair the color of yellow maize sat in the garden gazing at her male companion.

To the Mayan, Itzel, the woman’s face defined the whiteness of white sheets—the type fashioned from the same high quality of cotton she remade the beds with in this guesthouse each morning.

For the briefest of seconds, Itzel’s eyes locked with the woman’s, then shifted to the stone at their feet.  The man raised his hand and motioned, but he did not look at Itzel as she went to them.

“My wife is ill.  She’d like to remain in the room today.  Do not bother her.”  With a flick of his hand, he dismissed her, then patted his wife’s hand. “I’m sorry you cannot join the other missionaries and me on our tour of Antigua today, but do not worry, I’ll take many pictures.”

The American bowed her head.

With eyes downcast, Itzel backed away.  Her sheets were multi-colored, the luminous colors of a field of maize bathed in sunlight. 

Turning, she faced the luncheon table.  The scrape of a chair, the echo of retreating footsteps told her the man had left.  Itzel picked up a coffee cup.

A hand touched her back. “Could we return to your room today?” the corn woman whispered.

Engulfed by a sudden gust of air, Itzel caught her breath, then smiled.    



First published: February 2017
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