Hello amazing people!
I want to keep this intro super short. Below you will find one of my short stories. This one is a completed one unlike my last one, which if you have not read please feel free to check it out: http://meanderingmeli.com/2014/11/19/story-time/ Please feel free to provide me with some constructive criticism. Always looking for ways to improve my writing. I don’t really want to say much about it because I don’t want to affect your opinion about my work. I should say that the word in italics are in spanish. I tried to use the spanish words in such a way that are understandable in context. If you would like any translations for anything or would like to know some background info just let me know in the comments. Here are some words that I used a lot: Abuelo (Grandpa), Papi (Dad), Amor (Love). I hope you enjoy! Please, please, please tell me what you think of it in the comments! ❤ 🙂
“I guess I wasn’t really thinking about what would happen. I just wanted to do something nice for him. I needed to. I thought that Papi would like it too,” I said. I was sitting on the couch and there was Wolfgang, in his blue plaid sweater, on the other couch, waiting for me to continue. I don’t even feel comfortable talking to my pup. How can I talk to a therapist? He was still staring at me. Why do I have to do all the talking? I wish you could at least nod and ask how I feel… I pressed my back against the couch and sank farther into it. I could feel his eyes boring a hole into my face, he’s probably thinking, “Why’d you put me in this sweater, Lina? We’re in Puerto Rico and it’s 90 degrees out.”
I looked at his white and brown floppy ears, his brown and blue eyes, his pink tongue which was drooling on the couch and the blue sweater. I think you look cute, yet professional. I won’t keep you in the sweater for long though. I couldn’t help but smile at Wolfy, he was only one year old and already he was too big to lay down on the cushion. “Fine, I’ll talk,” I said, “but if I start crying you gotta come sit on my lap. You think I could bring you with me if I go to that appointment?”
“Woof,” he said as his ears perked up.
“I’ll take that as a yes, Lina! Take me, take me.” Wolfy put his head on top of the arm rest. He’s ready to listen; I know I should start but where do I begin?
“I’m just going to wing it, Wolfy,” I sighed, “So, yesterday I blindfolded Papi before he got into the car so that he would be completely surprised when we arrived at the gallery on campus. Papi loves that I decided to his university, La Universidad Inter-Americana de Puerto Rico in San Germán. We call it La Inter for short, because that’s just too much to say. The whole way there it was raining and thundering while he was complaining about how surprises weren’t very enjoyable and that being in the dark sucked. None of us liked surprises any more, or the dark because we found out that Abuelo died in the middle of the night. I think that was why Papi finally agreed to get you last year. He always says, “Who will dare bother us in the dark when we have a mighty hound like this? Nadie.”
With that last bit Wolfgang sat up straight, he was a big pup but still too cute to be very scary. “You know Wolfy, I think Papi just liked the idea of cuddling up with you. Anyway, for twenty minutes I was driving though what felt like a hurricane, he was complaining, and I was pretty exited about my surprise. When we got to the gallery my heart was racing and all of a sudden I was worried that Papi wouldn’t like what I did. Mami was working at the hospital so it was just us. I promised to take her later on in the week, but honestly, I was glad it would just be me and Papi. Don’t tell her that, though.”
Wolfy sighed and I knew it was his way of saying, “Fine.”
“I kept Papi blindfolded until we got inside. Wolfy, the turn out was amazing! There were so many people walking around and speaking in hushed tones. I couldn’t believe it,” I said. I knew my eyes were tearing up but I was just happy so Wolfy stayed in his seat.
“I made Papi stand in the entrance hall where Abuelo’s photo stood on an easel. It’s the one where he is wearing his favorite white guayabra with short sleeves. I picked this picture because I love the way the white fabric makes his dark skin and hair glow. He looked happy. Just looking at the photo brought back all kinds of memories of us going to church functions together, but I don’t go to church anymore. Papi doesn’t like that I’m losing my faith. So, every sunday we have a fight. I appreciate it when you stand between us, Wolfy. I know you don’t like to see us fight but why do I have to go to God every week? What do I have to say to him? That’s what was running through my head, but it was supposed to be a happy day so I decided to take the blindfold off and see what Papi would do.
“Ques esto, Adelina?” He didn’t say it in an angry tone so that was good. I grabbed his hand; it is almost exactly like Abuelo’s but it’s just a lighter brown and less wrinkly. I was staring and I guess Papi noticed because he put his other hand under my chin and made me look into his eyes. “Lina? Where are we?”
I smiled at him and I pulled him into the plain white room that displayed all of Abuelo’s paintings. I’ve never seen a prettier room. All of Abuelo’s paintings had a pair of emperor penguins in them. The taller penguin was the oldest and that one was supposed to represent him and the tiny fluffy one was supposed to be either Papi or me. Abuelo told Papi it was him before I was born but then the fluffy one became me. I don’t know why he loved penguins so much because we don’t have penguins in P.R., but Papi and I never really asked because it didn’t matter. What mattered was that the penguins were us.
Once Papi saw that the paintings on the wall were Abuelo’s he covered his face and started to cry. What is a daughter supposed to do when she see’s her father cry, Wolfgang? It took all of my strength not to fall to my knees and flood the room with raging rivers of salt water. Here was this 6-foot tall man that everyone one always said reminded them of that god father guy from that movie, crying at the sight of penguin paintings. And then there I was, frozen, staring, but then I hugged him. I heard his sniffles… all I could say was I’m sorry I shouldn’t have done this. He just shook his head and wiped the tears away,” I said as I wiped my own tears. Wolfgang hopped off the couch to come lay by my side. He laid his head on my lap and I was petting his back with one hand while the other played with his ear. “You kind of stink, Wolfy. Maybe its time for a little bañito,” I said.
Wolfy whined in response. You’re so touchy when it comes to your smell. I scratched his ear to apologize.
“With a shaky sigh he took my hand and walked to the nearest painting. I saw my art professor, who helped me organize this and I smiled. But then she walked over to us and I got really nervous about what she was going to say.
“Hola, Lina. Mucho gusto, Don Andres,” Profesora Ortiz said before she gave us a kiss us on the cheek. I felt awkward standing there, because I’ve been skipping class lately and when I went my paintings were sloopy, the flowers looked like multicolored blobs, the scenery paintings looked flat and boring. I know that they suck, but I’m in a sucky mood, so what did she expect?
“Lina, you have a great turn out here. I hope this will inspire you to paint as you use to. This could all one day be for you,” she said smiling. I smiled back and Papi put his hand on my shoulder.
“It would be nice to see you painting in the house again,” he said.
I pressed Wolfgang closer to me. “I knew he meant to finish that sentence with: instead of crying all the time. I don’t know, Wolfy. Papi and la profe just don’t get it. Abuelo taught me to paint. He showed me how to hold a brush, how to blend colors, how to add depth with shading,” I said, “ You can’t think of Abuelo and not think of painting. I feel Abuelo too much when I paint. Then I get mad because he isn’t here.”
Wolfy nuzzled me and I took a deep breath to calm down before I continued, “Papi and I thanked her for her help, and we brought our attention back to the painting in front of us. We saw it was the one that Abuelo painted when we were on his coffee farm together. The pair of penguins are sitting on the porch with a coffee mug in their flippers watching the sun set over the ocean. Abuelo called it “Pinguinos con café.” After looking at it for a while Papi said, “Lina, look at the sunset here. Your Abuelo used to say that he caught the sun just as it was about to clock out. I can’t tell you how many sunsets he and I spent like that, drinking fresh café, watching the sun clock out, and telling stories. I always told him about stuff that happened on the farm, like how one time I was walking back to the house for dinner when all these birds left the tree I was walking under at once, which made all the mangos come pouring down on me. I showed Abuelo all my bruises that evening and we laughed while we tried to come up with a bad-ass story to explain why I looked that way.”
I wanted to know what stories Abuelo told Papi but those are Papi’s memories, maybe he wants to keep them to himself. So I just smiled and kept walking to the next painting. Papi’s breath was still shaky, but he wasn’t crying anymore. He was wearing a blue shirt that day, nothing fancy, but I like that color on him. He looks so much like Abuelo. His hair is black and curly; it looks like it would be rough to the touch but it’s actually soft. Papi kept his hair at the same length as Abuelo, not long enough where the curls would tickle the ears but not short like a buzz cut either, perfectly in between. I had to close my eyes and just breathe for a second. Papi noticed. When I opened my eyes he was smiling at me, but I could see the worry in his eyes. I smiled back and looked at our hands. I wish my skin were a bit darker but I kind of like the contrast in colors.
“Lina? Do you remember this one?” The painting we were standing in front of showed the two penguins leaning over the glass bottom of the boat they are sitting in. Their faces were bathed in the green glow from the water in Bio Bay. Abuelo called this one “Los Extraterrestres.” With another smile I told Papi about the time that Abuelo took me kayaking at a Bio Bay. I thought the water was magical and wanted to take some of it with me. I didn’t understand that the water only glowed when it was disturbed; Abuelo just told me to enjoy the magic while we were surrounded in it. I remember how he triple checked that my life vest was secure and how he jumped into the water first so that he could hold me in case it didn’t work when we went swimming. Papi laughed and told me that he threatened to never speak to him again, if Abuelo let something bad happen to me while we were on that trip.
I looked all around me and there were so many happy images. Abuelo usually made the penguins look like they were smiling. I don’t feel like smiling. Neither does Papi but Abuelo always said, “Uno simper se ve mas lindo con una sonrisa.” One always looks pretty with a smile. Papi always answered with, “That’s because we are ugly criers.” Which I totally agree with but I like that Abuelo was always so positive. He always had something nice to say. He had happy eyes and a contagious smile. He told the best jokes. His laughter put everyone in a good mood. He gave the best hugs. He smelled like fresh coffee…
“Lina, you have to try to stay here, hijita. Stay in the moment.” I only then just felt his hand resting on my shoulder. Papi worries about me. I smiled at him to let him know that I was there. We kept walking in search of another painting we could talk about. I stopped at a painting Papi ignored. He noticed. The painting was called “Perdon.” In this one he only painted the older penguin. It had a bandaid on the side of its head and it was sitting in a wheel chair in a hospital room. His strokes were shaky, the image didn’t look as crisp as it always did in previous ones. It all looked blurred. The walls and bed in the background were painted in gray scale. The only color that popped was the pale yellow around the penguins neck, the pale orange of its beak, and the red and white bandaid on its head. Abuelo painted this when he first moved into the nursing home. Abuelo had Alzheimer’s and he painted it to apologize for forgetting us. He said it was his last good bye because pretty soon he wouldn’t know that we were his family. He never said anything about dying…
Then the lights went out in the gallery room. Papi later told me that the lights were only out for three minutes. All I remember is that one moment I was looking at the penguin with the bandaid, then I couldn’t see anything, but then…then I was somewhere else. I was in my bed. I felt Papi’s hand in my hair and I heard his sniffles. I woke up because it tickles when people play with my hair. But the sniffles…hearing them made me look at the clock. It was 3:25 in the morning. I couldn’t see Papi I just heard him. He said, “Ay, amor, Papi se murio.” Then he sobbed, and I was frozen. I wanted to cry but tears wouldn’t come. I just listened to Papi, then I noticed myself patting his shoulder. He took my hand and kissed it. We just sat there, in the dark.
I’m never going to see Abuelo’s smile. I’ll never feel crushed during his bear hugs again. I’ll never hear his voice, his laugh. That’s when I started to cry. At this point I came back to the here, where I was standing next to Papi in the gallery. My throat burned, and my face was wet. I felt Papi’s arms around me. I heard him trying to tell me to come back to the moment in the gallery. We had to leave once he realized I was in the now. This time he drove us home and told me I have to see a therapist. I fought with him and told him I didn’t need to. But he’s making me go.
“How was that Wolfgang?” At the sound of his name Wolfy’s ears perked. I patted the sofa cushion next to me and he came running. While I was scratching his ears Papi walked into the room. His nose scrunched up and his lips puckered like there was a bad smell. He doesn’t like Wolfgang’s sweater.
“Lina, I hate it when you dress the dog up! That is one of my favorite sweaters and now there is dog hair all over it!”
With a smile I looked at Wolfy and picked a fuzz ball off the sweater. Who needs a therapist when I could just talk to you? Wolfy jumped off the couch and went to greet Papi. Papi isn’t that mad because he goes down on his knees to give our pet a good scratch on its neck. “Papi, do I really have to go? I was just talking to Wolfy. I told him everything. I feel better now.”
With a grunt Papi stood up and stared at me. “Hija, what does a perro know about grief? He can’t help you. Come on put on some shoes and we’ll go. It’s not so bad, amor. You’ll see.”
Thank you, so much for reading it! Don’t forget to tell me what you think in the comments ❤ I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
Sending you lots of love,