Dia de Los Muertos Short Story
fragrant aroma of pork stewing with garlic and chiles
out of my deep sleep. The
best kind of mornings started like this. My
stomach grumbled just imaging myself devouring a bowl of steaming
pozole and munching away on a crunchy tostada.
lay in bed for a few more moments allowing my eyes to blink and
adjust to the morning light before I kicked the covers off and rolled
myself off the bed, feet first. Ama
always said I must have been a cat in another life because despite,
flinging myself off my bed, I always landed on my feet. I
felt a soft hum vibrate
and I glanced down
cat Gabriel, who lay
curled up in his small bed on the floor. I had startled him out of
Gabriel but I smell pozole,” I
apologized to my friend. I
all the way to my dresser and grabbed my socks.
Normally I wouldn’t have bothered with
covering my feet as I preferred walking around
the house barefoot, but we were in deep fall and mornings sometimes
felt more like winter. Touching
my bare feet onto the cold hardwood floor felt like walking on melted
padded my way over to the kitchen in my pale pink socks and by the
abundance of sunlight, already streaming in through the open
curtains, I realized morning had come and gone; and I had continued
Just the way I liked it. Behind
me, I heard the soft tip-tapping of Gabriel’s nails on the wooden
floor as the ball of fur followed me. Given that he had a stronger
sense of smell than I did, it was odd that he hadn’t bothered to
escape my room until now.
made my way over to the altar Ama had set up next to the window.
Although Dia de los Muertos was a two-day celebration at the
beginning of November, my mother liked to set up the altar at the
beginning of October that way we could pay our respects for the whole
Abuela!” I waved at the framed picture of my grandmother. Ama liked
to keep the altar right by the window claiming the natural sunlight
was better for the abuelos something to do with crossing over into
our world. I had tuned out the conversation when she had explained it
to me preferring
to contemplate what I would eat for lunch the next day instead.
altar was set up on a small table covered with a red knitted blanket
Ama had created years ago but never finished. Ama had knitted it with
two bundles of yarn before she had called it quits and decided the
blanket was long enough. It wasn’t long enough to even qualify as a
throw blanket, but we continued to use it to protect our tables
during holiday altars.
top of the fabric sat a framed picture of my abuela next to a tall
The picture had been taken shortly after her marriage to my
grandfather, in the small town where they married. Ama said this town
was particularly known for all the patches of wild sunflowers.
the official flower of the dead was la flor de cempasúchil, an
orange marigold, sunflowers were abuela’s favorite, so it was only
right to add a sunflower to her altar. The candle Ama lit for abuela
was a dark purple as that had been her favorite color. It had been
burning on the altar since Halloween. In case abuela decided to come
early. And a bowl of salt in case unwelcome spirits tried to enter
Selena,” Next to abuela’s frame was a picture of Selena Quintilla
who was not a related to us at all but since Ama always played Bidi
Saturdays mornings, when my
brother and I
helped her clean I thought it was pretty rude not to invite her to
our celebration this year since she always filled our home with sweet
odd thing about our altar today were all the lemons surrounding the
images of our loved ones. Some lemons were sliced open and placed on
a plate with pan dulce while others were on the floor in front of the
altar in a semi-circle.
ya te despertaste mija,” Ama scolded
as she watched me from the stove. She stood
peering over a large metal pot and with
the lid in one hand and an equally as large
wooden spoon in
“I need you to go down to the panderia, the
one next to the library, and go buy some more pan dulce,” Ama
reached into the pocket of her blue apron and pulled out a wrinkly
What about Ángel?”
My brother was an early raiser and more functional in the mornings.
In the mornings I sometimes got lost on the way to the bathroom which
was right next to my room.
had to send Ángel on an errand. Your tio asked if we could pick up
Luisto from soccer practice.” Luisto was our only younger cousin
who lived in the same city as us. Tio Omar had put Luisto in soccer
when he realized our primito was too full of energy and could never
be satisfied with a coloring book. Now our uncle was hoping that his
son would become the next Lionel Messi. Although after watching his
game last week I wasn’t sure whether tio’s dream would ever come
true. Luisto preferred to throw the soccer ball with his hands into
the goal post rather than kick it. But Luisto was still young and had
time to improve.
Well, how did we run out of pan dulce so fast? You bought so much for
tonight,” she had bought huge boxes of Pan de Muerto from the
supermarket a few days ago, they were big enough to feed multiple
families. Additionally, she had also bought a lot of colorful conchas
too so the tia could drink with their cafe and chisme.
clicked her tongue and let out a disappointed hiss. “AAH
pues tu pinche gato,” she gave Gabriel the stink eye who in
response swished his tail and continued to eye the pot of pozole as
if everything was right with the world, “ate
the pan de muerto
I had set up in front the altar. So I had to put the ones I was
saving for the party on the altar.”
Fucking Gabriel, he was the kind of cat that didn’t beg and preferred to swipe and run. Although we had both fallen asleep early last night, he must have escaped out of my room and gone to pick at the altar.
Ama let me just go put on a sweater and some shoes. Is that why you
put all those limones in front of the altar?” Gabriel, the cat, was
not easily spooked but, for some reason, he was not a big fan of
lemons. I had a theory, that he had stolen a lemon from the kitchen
and stashed it under my bed for safekeeping thinking it was sweet
like mangos but after sinking his teeth into it, he was disappointed
by the bitter fruit. There was some truth to this theory because I
had found a moldy lemon under my bed once with suspicious-looking
teeth marks in the flesh.
“Apurate mija, I let your brother take the car, and the bus is coming soon.”
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