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#AtoZ — Zama

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Zama

We walked into the house and my husband told me to sit on the couch while he went to his grandmother’s room to see if she was awake. I was more nervous than I thought I would be. I was meeting my husband’s family for the first time. This was the first stop where I would meet his maternal grandmother before going on to  his parents’ house.

From the other room I heard a frail voice ask to be helped out of bed so she could come and meet me. She was bedridden and I had been told that if she was awake, I would go into her room to meet her but here she was, asking to come meet me. I wondered if I should go down the hall and find them so that she wouldn’t have to come out of bed but by then, I could see that they were making their way out to the hall as I saw the front of her walker round the corner into the hall.

“Well excuse me for sitting down before meeting you but I need to sit a lot these days. Come here so I can meet you properly and welcome you with a hug.” She was frail but strong. Her presence was commanding, all eighty pounds of her!

She gave me a strong hug then held on to me.  “Let me look at you. I don’t see well anymore so you need to stand very close so I can see your face.” She studied me but not in a way that was off  putting. “Oh you’re a pretty one! Look at that beautiful hair. And I see you have earrings on. I can’t tell what they look like but I can see them dangling from your ear. Tell me about them. Oh! But sit first. Make yourself at home. Can my grandson get you something to drink?”

I sat and she chatted with me for awhile. She told me about how she loved jewelry and never left the house without her jewelry. She said she always had to have a ring, a bracelet, a wrist watch, and earrings or she felt naked! She told me about how she had lived in Fort Wayne in Indiana all her life but when her daughter, Laurabelle, told her a her husband had come home late one night without their daughter because he had forgotten to pick her up from school, she sold her house and packed her belongings and drove from Fort Wayne to Calexico. She was determined that nothing like that would ever happen to her granddaughter or any of her grandchildren again. So she bought the house so that the children could walk to her house after school every day until they were picked up and if they weren’t picked up, they were safe there with her.

I heard a lot of stories that afternoon but then she got tired. She went to rest and we headed out the door and to my in-laws’ house and although I was still nervous, the afternoon with my new grandmother-in-law had eased a lot of my nerves.

That was my first introduction to Nonnie. I didn’t know her long. She died less than a year after our afternoon meeting, but in many ways, I got to know her much better than I got to know anyone else in the family.

To me and the rest of the family, she was Nonnie. To everyone else, she was Zama.

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Xochitl

“Zocheel.” That’s all she could get from the woman. She was asking what the plants were called. They had beautiful blooms that she hadn’t seen back in California where she was from. Now there were lush, colorful, tropical plants all over. She was enchanted by them and wanted to learn about them. Wherever she went she took pictures of the plants so she could try to identify them. She had chosen not to have internet where she was living because this move to the state of Quintana Roo was supposed to be a peaceful change, a getaway. She didn’t want to be reached. When she showed the woman who cooked for her the pictures, the woman kept saying the same thing, “zocheel” which was another word she didn’t know.

Frustrated, she decided that the next time she went into town she would find someone who could help her identify the flowers. In fact, she would do that soon.

Yolanda

Yolanda was frustrated. The woman she cooked for kept showing her pictures of flowers and Yolanda kept telling her they were flowers. Over and over again, Yolanda would tell her “xochitl” but the American woman must not be too bright because she didn’t understand a simple word. Xochitl. They were all xochitl. Yolanda threw her hands up in frustration and said it one more time, for the last time, xochitl!

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Virginia & William

They were my neighbors when I was growing up. Right next door. We didn’t see them very often but we could hear them. We were actually afraid of them because we heard them more than we saw them and we were afraid of their voices. They yelled. Not at us so we weren’t afraid of them because we thought we were in danger or in trouble. They yelled at each other.

William used to spend a lot of time in the backyard with the plants and the trees and Virginia didn’t come out very often but we knew when she was at the top of the stairs because they had one of those clotheslines that was on a pulley so when she clipped something to the clothesline it would move so she could clip the next thing and so on.

One day my big sister and I were in the backyard playing when we heard William out there. He was humming! And he was very close to the part of the fence where we were playing so we froze so he wouldn’t see or hear us. He was clipping the ivy on his side of the fence. He had those great big clippers like our dad had. I noticed a hole in the fence so I peeked through it. I couldn’t see him, only his legs moving a little as he clipped and hummed. My sister pushed me so she could see and I got mad at her. That’s when William said something.

“I see you two. What are you doing there? Are you spying on me? Come out so I can see you.” He didn’t sound mean but we were scared.

“Come on. I have something for you. Come up so I can see you and give it to you. I won’t hurt you.”

Slowly, we stood up but backed up a little so we weren’t so close to him. And there he was. He smiled at us and he handed us each a flower. They were roses! He told us he had taken the thorns out so we could hold them without getting poked. I loved flowers. I still do. It made me smile and I brought the yellow rose up to my nose to sniff it. I was so happy with my flower that I forgot to say “thank you” until my sister poked me and told me to say it.

“Thank you, Mister. I love flowers and yellow is my favorite color. Thank you.”

Then another voice came over the fence! It was Virginia. “Well hello there. I saw you talking to my William. I have something for you, too. Do you like candy? I have some candy for you and your brothers and sisters. Here you go. I’m going to drop it over the fence. You take in and ask your mommy before you eat any, okay?” Her voice wasn’t mean today. We were used to her yelling at William and her voice had sounded mean but that day it wasn’t mean.

After that day, we saw them more and we talked to them. They were very nice to us. And they yelled at each other because they didn’t hear very well so they had to yell so they could be heard. They used to give us candy and flowers and sometimes they would give us little toys. They learned our names and sometimes they would leave little surprises for us in the holes in the fence.

We moved away from that house when I was in fifth grade and they still lived there but after that, I don’t know what happened to them. I think of them sometimes and I smile.

#AtoZ — Union Station

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Union Station

The kids were so excited! They were going on a train ride! There were two children with their mother and father. The couple was young and the children were about two and four, a boy and a girl. The mother was almost as excited as the kids were. The kids were excited about the trains but the mother was looking all around, taking in the art deco building that had been featured in so many movies and TV shows. She was just as excited as the children.

“I wish I had a camera. I wish we had planned this instead of just deciding at the last minute. I would have brought the camera. I am not even sure we have enough diapers or extra clothes.” She wasn’t upset. At least she didn’t appear to be.

“Spur of the moment. You used to like to do things like this on a whim. Now you don’t. You’re not much fun anymore.”

It was clear that the words had stung her. She looked at him, mouth agape. Is that what he thought? She wasn’t fun anymore? She tried to be. Even with all the time the kids took and even though she was tired, she always made an effort to be cheery when he came home from work and she always offered to do stuff with him. She told him they could get a babysitter and go out but he always declined. Instead, he would go to work functions alone. It had made her wonder what people at his firm thought about her.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that this wasn’t fun. I just wish we had the camera. If we run out of diapers we’ll find a place to get some, I guess. It’s not too long of a train drive anyway. A few hours and we’ll be back.”

“If that’s what you want.”

They both turned their attention to the children. Her eyes were brimming with tears as she turned away from him.

 

 

 

#AtoZ — Tom

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Tom

He was sitting at an outdoor table at a chic Beverly Hills restaurant waiting for his wife who was shopping around the corner. But he wasn’t just waiting. He was ogling the fresh, young girls. He always ogled at the young ones, the ones so much younger than he. If one looked his way he thought they were flirting with him and he just about fell off his seat.

He did this all the time. He had never been happy with the wife he had picked. He hadn’t picked her because she was beautiful, or even because he loved her. There had never been love on his part. He had played it well but he had never felt it. Why had he picked her? Well, it was easy to see why if you studied his clothes and how at ease he was in this lifestyle. If you saw him driving, you could tell why. So confident. So entitled.

M-O-N-E-Y. Plain and simple. His wife, the not so lovely, yet kind and generous and loving Yolanda was the only daughter of the most talked about fashion designer in the last fifty years. She was not only his only daughter but the much talked about “ambassador of goodwill” who took great interest in donating to so many charities and bringing attention to causes relating to children and family issues. She was also very generous with her husband and never suspected that he was anything but faithful because she didn’t have that kind of thoughts in her mind and could only think positively of people.

Tom sat enjoying his hundred dollar snack and drink as well as the view of the very  beautiful and the very young things walking by. He was enjoying it all at the courtesy of his wife and father-in-law.

#AtoZ – Sammi

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Sammi

Sammi took her venti Americano with a nod at the barista and sat at the table with her back to the wall so she would have a full view of all the characters that entered the coffee shop. She had laid out her laptop and her notebook while waiting for her coffee and now she took out her headphones and put them on. What no one would know was that they weren’t turned on to anything, or rather they were but the volume was turned all the way off on her laptop so she wasn’t hearing anything. That was intentional. Sammi wanted to not only see everyone but to hear as much as possible on this mission.

You see, Sammi was trying write a story but had no ideas. She wanted to write characters that were genuine and unforgettable but none were coming so this was a research trip. She took out her pen and began to doodle, ignoring her laptop. That was okay too because no one could see the screen because it faced the wall so she could pretend to be engrossed in her computer while not paying attention to it at all.

She sat and waited. No one interesting came in. There was a mom with a little boy, or maybe it was a little girl. Hard to tell at that age, which she guesstimated was about a year. The mother seemed to be waiting for someone but she was also very nervous, presumably about the baby who was crying intermittently. Probably the mom was worried about bothering the others. No one seemed to be paying attention except the man with the wire frame glasses who had taken his dress jacket off and put it on the back of his chair. It looked like he was on an extended break although it was too early for lunch. He was not just aware of the child with the woman. He was smiling at it and making silly faces; trying to make the child laugh.

Sammi was frustrated because nothing was going on. All she could hear was the older woman who was probably the manager asking the barista where Julie was. Apparently Julie was late for work, whoever she was. The barista mumbled something that sounded like “sick — late — anytime now” while looking nervous. He was trying to avoid saying anything further to the manager. Just then a delivery man came in and needed a signature and the manager started flirting with him. His name seemed to be Jamie and Jamie looked a little uncomfortable with the flirting. He was trying to get out of there as quickly as he could.

Why didn’t anything ever happen when she sat at coffee shops waiting for things to happen? Sammi was thinking of taking her coffee and going to another coffee shop, or maybe she would try riding the bus, if she could figure out how to do that. Buses were supposed to be full of interesting stories. Yup. That’s what she did. She packed up and took what was left of her Americano with her after finding the bus schedule and the nearest bus stop. She rushed out the door, not seeing the man that joined the woman and young child. There was tension between the man and woman but also affection and the baby lit up when she saw the man. The man picked her up and called her his sweet little girls and kissed the top of her head with its wispy light brown hair.

Sammi wasn’t long gone before the Manager began to raise her voice at the barista because he wouldn’t tell her anything else about Julie just as Julie rushed in, full of apologies. She said her babysitter was sick and she had trouble finding someone to watcher her little boy and it wouldn’t happen again. She apologized profusely. But Sammi wasn’t there to watch the subtle looks of understanding that Julie got from the mother with the little girl. The manager had been louder than necessary and the customers had heard and seemed to be on Julie’s side, if it came to picking sides, that is.

No, nothing interesting was happening at that coffee shop. Sammi was sure to find something interesting on the bus because she was so observant and so intuitive and patient. Just as Julie rode off on the bus, the man that had been making faces at the little girl jumped up to defend the young mother who was being belittled and bullied by the husband. Of course, the husband jumped to conclusions and accused his wife of having an affair with the man. He didn’t believe that they didn’t even know each other. They hadn’t even exchanged any pleasantries.

Now there was yelling and pushing and shoving and the manager was yelling at them to stop and the barista was saying he was going to call the police.

But Sammi was gone because nothing interesting was happening at the coffee shop.

#AtoZ – Raymond

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Raymond

Raymond watched his workers. He always watched because he had to make sure everything went smoothly in the store. So he watched to make sure his customers had the shopping experience they deserved.

That Saturday he noticed Michael was not smiling. He watched. That’s when he started to worry. Michael smiled and chatted politely with each customer but when the customer was gone and before the next one approached, the smile was gone. In its place was the look of worry and anxiety. Raymond didn’t want to be part of that anxiety so he moved on and watched other workers. That’s when he asked Carol if she knew what was bothering Michael.

“Cancer. His mother was just and there’s no insurance.” Carol said it matter of factly and moved on.

“Wow.” That was all Raymond could think to say. He knew Michael loved his mother. She was the world to him. It had been just the two of them since his father had a stroke and  died  when Michael was only seven. Raymond really liked Michael. He had sort of taken him under his wing and he wondered why Michael hadn’t confided in him. He decided to talk to him and let him know he was in his corner and would try to help find some kind of resources for his mother’s health. There had to be something. She didn’t deserve this and neither did Michael.

Raymond walked toward Michael and signaled him to close up the register and come see him.