So, this one is a bit late!!! So sorry!! I am a part of the 3rd annual Holiday Blog tour - a momentous time when selected writers get to share out some holiday well wishing in the form of a story or a poem. If you have't had a chance, please check out the previous tour stop!!
Sadly, I am a day late and that sucks. SO, the best way to remedy is to get on the horn and fix it up, so today, you get two blogs for your pleasure!!
Once you read mine - then make your way over to Anabel Lucio Morales, My Meandering Thoughts (TODAY IS HER DAY, SO IF YOU DITCH MINE, I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND. I don't want to steal her thunder.
Here's the line-up:
Dec. 16, Teresa Carbajal Ravet, SententiaVera.com
Dec. 17 Nathasha Alvarez, AudaciousLady.com
Dec. 18, Natasha Oliver, Peace and Center
Dec. 19, Nikki Kallio, Purple Houses
Dec. 20, Lupe Mendez, The Poet Mendez
Dec. 21, Anabel Lucio Morales, My Meandering Thoughts
Dec. 22, Icess Fernandez Rojas, IcessFernandez.com
Dec. 23, Regina Tingle, ReginaTingle.com
Icess is the queen-diva who put this all together and I love getting the chance to share!!
enjoy the read below and check out Icess's work tomorrow- click here
Christmas in the Ribs
Carlo was a fighter from the very beginning. His mother told him on his birthday (Christmas day, even) every year about how he had been a tough baby. “You almost killed me, mijito”, she would start, “that’s right, barbaro, you gave me toxemia and had me in convulsions , but I am glad you were born.” So from the jump, Carlo didn’t understand the idea of pleasant, of calm. He always felt that since his mother was older (because mom would tell him so) and because he was the smallest in the class, in the town, of his friends, he would always have to fight. He fought to be born, so, he thought, “I will have to fight forever”. As he grew older, this dark indio of a boy had everyone on the ropes; the teachers in school could only keep him in the corner so long and he didn’t mind siting out during recess or dirtying his shirt and pants for a share of knuckles on the playground if it meant the other kids didn’t laugh at him for his height. He lived and slept with his jaw clinched and his fists balled up. He was always full of surprises. He never took no for an answer. He wasn’t afraid to make a mistake or to fall down. If he didn’t know, he looked it up. He replayed it on the TV, he asked , again, again, and again and this is how he learned. This was the case until he reached the age of twenty-six.
Carlo by this time was a handsome, short man, fit and sharp and ready for anything. He never shied away from a challenge or a struggle and always knew how to take things in stride- like the time when he was twenty four and he had graduated from college, which he paid for as he went; and the day after graduation, he managed to find a new place to live and was already packed and ready to go, boxes lined up on the floor along the wall along the door, when a tropical storm blew into town and flooded his old apartment, and all his belongings washed away – it didn’t matter; Carlo took two more jobs to earn enough money for new clothes, new furniture, new everything. He forgot his degree had washed away in the rain.
Carlo, at twenty-six was cavalier. He was well educated and loved working with youth, so he took a job as a mentor for a youth community center in west side of town. He did not cut words much. He was honest, direct and this is what got him the respect from the children and the teens in the center. He was a giver. He loved gifting, he loved the thrill of seeing faces in acceptance of something new and something treasured. It was a feeling he himself, had never really taken a part of. It was still an unusual feeling. This and the fact that in defense of a few of children, he had gone to blows a few times (once even landing in jail for a night, and there he got into another fight) in defense of some of the children; a drunk father looking for a son, a disgruntled abusive boyfriend, a bully/man harassing a teen at the center. The youth did not fear Carlo, they felt that he was there for them and if he was in their faces, then perhaps there was a reason. Carlo had worked at the center for two years and constantly helping other programs within the building in order that they may stay afloat and not be dismantled (what happens with local non-profits) and one of the new programs that had always needed help was the after school drama program. In Carlo’s second year, the program was run by a young lady. She was just as stern and deliberate as Carlo, except that she was much more well read and always had to have the last word. She was beautiful, so beautiful in fact, that the director of the community center once told Carlo, “Mr. Arrambide, she is quite a looker, young man. Perhaps you should say hello.” Carlo smiled “I already tried and she said she didn’t have time for a man as short as me.” The director, Ms. Johnson, said “but, but, she’s shorter than you!”
“What can I tell you? She’s got the looks, and the attitude”, said Carlo “So I don’t think I will bug her any more.” But in the back of his mind, he hadn’t been offended, but taken aback that he didn’t view her as offensive, but rather as a challenge.
And so, everyday there after, Carlo would make it a point to stop by Miss. Duarte’s practice room – always finding some reason to come in, checking for kids to meet up with, returning chairs in stacks, showing visitors the room on a guided tour, as the weeks passed, he had finally settled on a new assignment, amongst others: he would take the head count of all the programs during the evening. It was like this for some time, Carlo, poking his head into the room, asking a question and getting from Miss Duarte a quick response. He smiled a lot at her. She ignored him. He would ask for a head count and she would write it on a note and send it with a child at the door.
After six months of this, Carlo had become used to this treatment and he found him self warmly entertained, thinking “how in the hell is this girl, always so uptight? –she never smiles my way and she always has to have the last word.” This intrigued him and so he set himself a goal in regards to Celia (he knew her first name because he had once handed her a paycheck, which she snatched out of his hand without a “thank you” – Carlo just smiled that time too), he would find a way to make her smile and laugh. He didn’t know how it would happen, but he figured if he just kept a good air about him, she would eventually notice him.
Not long after his new goal setting moment, the staff of the community center had a staff party, after the work day, and Carlo was running late (his usual mode of operation) and as he quickly ran into the conference room, with the newly polished floors, he yelled “ Hey gente, how are you doing?” To which Celia had quickly and rudely responded “fine, until you showed up” – the room froze – as Carlo was rushing in with his arms full of gifts and eight cups of coffee – he managed 8 gift bags in one hand 2 coffee carriers in the other. As she made her “fine, until you showed up”, the room froze, not for her comment, but from the reaction on Carlo’s face. She caught him off guard. His heart was full this day, you see. He always gave. He always gave his heart, wrapped in tissue paper and warm smiles, in little gifts and truth. He looked forward to Christmas, he looked forward to a small idea of family, since from his youth, that cozy feeling was fleeting. But this time, it was as if something was hanging in the air, the smell of coffee, the quiet volume of Feliciano’s “I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas” in the background, the flash of imagination that he might actually get a shine of a smile from Duarte, but it all caught him off guard. SHE caught him off guard. Again. So bad, that he lost it, physically. He slipped on the floor and threw the cups of coffee and the gifts all over himself. It happened so fast, but so slowly that no one reacted to this feat. It could have been the shock from seeing such a violent accident, it could have been the slow processing that now the party would have less gifts, less heart, it could have been from the sonic understanding of all the cuss words that shot out of Carlo’s mouth the moment he fell on his ass as the hot coffee landed on him. – In the end, Carlo only heard one sound. It was the gleeful laugh of someone in total comedic ecstasy – and it came from Celia Duarte. When the moment had passed, everyone shot not only a look at Carlo, but now at Celia as well, for in her cantankerous laughter, she had slipped out of her rolling chair and now was on the floor as well. Embarrassed, she shot right up and instead of reseating herself, she made her way to Carlo and uncharacteristically, started to help him up. She even managed to help him fix all the gifts. She even found the one gift for her. It was a simple pair of earrings. Blue ones. She loved the color blue. She wondered, did he pay that much attention to her?
The sight of Carlo in a coffee stained pair of khakis and polo kept a smile on her face as she was helping him up – and he could only say “why are you still laughing at me? “ and she replied “I love slapstick. Come on, let me help you get stuff to clean up this mess.” And so they left. He finally got the chance to introduce himself, the smell of coffee everywhere “hi, my name is Carlo Arrambide. Its nice to hear you laugh” and she said “ well hello, Carlo, I am Celia. I am such a clutz too, its good to see someone else. Now I know I am not alone in the world.” And just then, Carlo didn’t feel the need to challenge the world anymore. He felt that fleeting moment of cozy in his ribs, and it spread and he said to the beautiful Celia Duarte, “Merry Christmas”. It was just then that he realized, all he wanted was right there, that Christmas, all he wanted was to just live in her laugh.