I remember the adults shouting, telling us all to get out of the water, then the younger kids crying, then the sirens of the ambulance, then the lifeless body of the man laid out beside the small maintenance pool where he’d drowned, two or three paramedics around him, trying to resuscitate him. I was somewhat far from the scene, still wet and in my bathing suit, but for a few instants, through the paramedics’ legs, I could make out the blue-tinged face of the man on the ground. A pale blue, washed-out, between indigo and azure. A blue I’d never seen before. A blue that shouldn’t exist in the pantone of blues. And seeing the man on the ground, I immediately pictured Salomón floating in the lake, Salomón faceup in the lake, his face now forever tinged the same shade of blue.
When we were kids, we used to help Don Isidoro plant trees around the property. Don Isidoro would open up a hole with a pickax and then move to one side and allow us to put in the sapling and then fill the hole back up with black earth. I remember that we planted a eucalyptus by the gate, a row of cypresses along the line bordering our neighbor’s land, a small matilisguate by the lakeshore. I remember Don Isidoro telling us that, before we filled each hole with earth, we had to bring our heads in close and whisper a word of encouragement into the hole, a pretty word, a word that would help the tree take root and grow properly (my brother, invariably, whispered good-bye). The word, Don Isidoro told us, would remain there forever, buried in the black earth.