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Does anyone have that annoying person in their family? If so, you might like this story. It starts out like this: one large group, two families, three children, and four adults, all related.
A boy and girl, Walter and Arianna, ran around, playing their game in their own world. A shelf nearly toppled.
“Walter, Arianna, get back here!” Eve shouted, chasing after them.
Juan just sighed, and shook his head. “Children,” he mumbled.
“Tell me about it,” Pablo laughed.
They were just joking, though. Juan loves his children, Walter and Miguel, even if they could cause lots of stress for him. But Juan's wife, Eve, usually could heal any rift that Walter and Miguel had with each other.
Pablo didn't have as much trouble as Juan did with kids, since he only had one, Arianna. He and Barbara could handle her just fine.
Miguel, though, the third child I mentioned, was sleeping until the racket had woken him up. He blinked a few times, adjusting to the light. The scene was odd. Miguel was pretty sure he had gone to sleep on the car. But once he took in his surroundings, Miguel knew where he was. The familiar white tiles of the floor, the aisles and rows of fruits and vegetables, and the cramped space that always made him feel claustrophobic. He was in the nearby grocery store.
Barbara, Arianna's mom, was drifting off in her search for ingredients, and just noticed what was going on. Grumbling, Barbara joined Eve in the tossle.
Miguel, who had sat there watching for a considerable amount of time, decided the chaos looked fun. So he raised his chubby arms, and made noises to get Juan’s attention.
Once Miguel was on the ground, the situation was contained. But no problem, Miguel was a naturally a curious child. A tank of turtles caught his eye, over by the pet section. He stumbled over, and gave one a touch. The largest turtle was about four inches long, and the smallest was about two inches. Rough and smooth at the same time, stripes and patterns all over. He would really like to have one.
Miguel wasn’t like most four-year-olds, though. He knew what turtles were, and that they had feelings too. So he didn’t try to stack them or anything. He just watched. And he only did move when Barbara noticed his absence.
Oh her, Miguel thought with distaste as he watched her come strolling over. Barbara was his annoying aunt, who talked nonstop and still made baby noises at Miguel, even though he was over that stage. Though her daughter, Arianna didn't have those traits.
At that moment, Miguel had a plan. Not a plan, a prank. He knew about Barbara and her pet peeves. While Barbara wasn't looking, he quickly grabbed one of the small turtles.
“What a wanderer this one is!” Barbara exclaimed with Miguel in her arms. She had made her way to where the rest of the group was. “I caught him looking at some turtles.” She shuddered at the last word.
Barbara continued talking, babbling on about how unhygienic touching animals is, bringing out her bottle of hand sanitizer and wiping down herself and Miguel.
When no one was looking, Miguel plopped the turtle in her unzipped purse. He knew that the turtle wouldn't suffocate. Barbara almost always left her purse open, but the contents were so tightly packed that nothing fell out. Sure enough, Barbara just continued to ramble on after dropping her hand sanitizer in her bag.
And the shopping continued on.
Once all of the ingredients had been gathered, from the chile anchos to the hojas, they started to make their way to Eve's house, where the rest of the family was waiting.
By the time they arrived, the sun was high in the sky.
The new arrivals were welcomed by a chorus of greeting.
Aunts, nieces, nephews, uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers had all gathered together. It was no ordinary day, after all. Today was Tamalada.
And so it began.
Everyone helped out, from Grandfather Rico, Grandmother Anne, to the children, Walter, Arianna, and even Miguel. Now, he was struggling to spread the mix of pork, chile anchos, corn flour, onto the corn husks, or hojas.
Miguel's eyes drifted around him as he worked. He always enjoyed Uncle Fabio's house, the soft pale blue colors, like the muted sky, the brown hardwood floors, and the colorful paintings that were hung around the walls. Landscapes, portraits and so on.
Before long, the whole process was done. As the tamales were baking, the smell wafted through the whole house, making mouths water. In the meantime, children played games and romped around. Adults talked and shared stories, telling the day's events. The whole house was bustling with activity. And when the tamales' smell finally got to the kids, they started to pester their parents.
"When are they gonna be done, mama?" asked Walter.
"Not yet. Have patience, mijo!" laughed Eve.
So they waited. And waited.
And when three whole eternities passed, the tamales were done.
The whole family dug in, unwrapping the corn husk from the tamales. Before, though, Barbara insisted that each person had to wash their hands first. Everyone enjoyed, laughing and chatting. And at the sight of this, Barbara couldn't resist taking a picture. She dug around her purse for her phone, touched an unfamiliar object, and pain clamped down on her finger.
Memories flashed through Barbara's mind; having one bite her at the beach, her finger bleeding, getting shots. It didn't really help that she was a germaphobe, and the thought of bacteria spreading through her purse, on her hands...
Barbara shrieked so loud, she made everyone jump.
"Turtle! Stupid turtle! In my purse! How?"
"Yeah, how did that get there?" Juan said, looking pointedly at Miguel.
In response, Miguel just smiled innocently. But Juan knew Miguel. Juan was, after all, Miguel's dad. But Juan understood, and it was fine with him. He didn't really like Barbara either.
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