This weekend I read a portion of this short story at the Border Senses release party. Thanks to the people that came out and Eurydice for the great photo...
For my grandma’s third fifty-fourth birthday her ex-husband Réno took us out to celebrate. My grandma and he had been separated as long as I could remember but they remained friends. In fact, my grandma had remained friends with some of the other men she had been married to. I imagined that she was a bright light that they couldn’t stay far away from, but like any other light she sometimes shined too brightly.
She took extra care getting ready that day, and paired a beautiful pink angora sweater with black pants and small black wedges. I was very excited as we got ready and left the house. For the celebration we were being taken to dinner at a well-known seafood restaurant, Villa Del Mar, which my grandma loved. We drove down to the Bridge of the Americas and parked her big Buick. We walked over to Juarez and met Réno in front of the restaurant.
Réno had been my grandma’s fourth husband, and at the time, I hadn’t known why they had gotten a divorce. He had black hair he always combed into a pompadour. He stood waiting for us wearing black pants and a black jacket with a white button down and wayfarer sunglasses. My grandma waved as we got close, and he walked over to us with a big smile on his face, as he began to tell us that he wanted to take my grandma to the store next door first.
Downtown Juarez is an interesting place that is unexpectedly urban with retail stores next to nice restaurants, next to dive taquerias, and next to a bar that plays mariachi music so loud you can hear it on the street. My grandma didn’t want to at first but gave in because he looked so happy, and we had been excited all day about going too. As we walked over and caught our first glance at the window, I realized why he wanted to take my grandma there. My grandma was so busy talking that she almost didn’t notice, but when she saw them she let out a tiny gasp.
There they were, pink sling back marabou heels, sitting on a metal display pedestal waiting for her. Réno threw his head back, let out a big laugh, and clapped his hands together.
“¿Que te dije mamita?”
We walked in and walked out with the shoes in my grandma’s tiny size five. The shoes made the day even better. When we got to the restaurant we laughed and Réno told jokes that had us laughing even louder. We started with calamari appetizers and salads. Each time the waiter came back Réno ordered another drink. When it was time for us to order our food he insisted that we order the most expensive things and I looked to my grandma to make sure it was ok. She ordered for me instead even though Réno protested gesturing with the drink in his hand. By the time our food came I was so caught up in the laughter I hadn’t realized that my grandma wasn’t laughing as loudly. The next time the waiter came by Réno asked for a drink.