Although every day felt like summer here on the island, it was inevitable that this day would come. She’s long prepared for it, but the magnitude of pain she’d experience wouldn’t change regardless.
“Better hurry up or I’ll leave you behind!” her lips were a natural rose, skin the color of bronzed mahogany.
Three kids trailed behind their mother, the first was a boy of about seven or eight years old, a mop of raven black hair made the bulk of his head.
“Loma!” he complained to the girl behind him, same age, however engrossed in a GameBoy console.
“Yeah, yeah.” she responded quickly, eyes lit by the intensity of the button mashing.
“Sadia, ¿estás bien allí? (are you okay back there?)” called their mother from the font of the line. A little one, wearing a bright yellow sundress and matching hat walked forward happily, one hand grasped on the hanging strap of her sister’s overalls.
“Yes Mama!” she chirped.
“Mijo (son), get your sister out of the clouds.” Their mother was dressed casually, in a flowing red blouse tucked into her blue denim shorts. Her majestic black hair rolled in waves below her wide brimmed straw hat, decorated with a bright cluster of marigolds.
The boy turned around and frowned; “Hey!”
No reply. Only an aggressive ‘oof’.
“Heyyyyyyy!” without hesitation he snatched the GameBoy right from Loma’s hands. “It’s family time!” he yelled.
“Abel!!!!!” Loma screamed and charged, but Abel made a beeline for his mother. Sadia yelped as she frieghtently let go of her sister, who embarked in a murderous game of ‘catch me if you can’ with her brother. It didn’t take long for Sadia to start crying.
The matriarch, who was pulling a wagon full of beach essentials sighed, coming to a halt before the sandbar.
As Abel and Loma chased each other on the beach, their mother scooped up Sadia, offering a compassionate smile.
“Don’t let anyone ever leave you behind, you hear mi reinita (my little queen).” she cooed. Sadia giggled. She loved when her mother called her that.
Laying on a colorful and large tribal printed towel underneath a beach umbrella, a mother watched her children as they screamed and splashed in the water. Other local kids who came to the beach that day quickly joined in on the commotion.
A woman with brown hair walked up to the blanket; “Ama!” she waved.
Ama lowered her black cat-eyed sunglasses; “Hey girl! Take a seat!”
Ama patted the spot next to her, to which the woman happily joined.
“Interested in a drink?” Ama opened the cooler and offered her a glass bottle labeled ‘Crystal Soda’.
“You know that’s one of my favorites!” she giggled.
“Where’s that little runt Sora?” Ama questioned, the woman laughed and motioned over to the water.
“Right over there with Riku, they’ve been introducing the new girl to everyone.”
Ama took another bottle of Crystal Soda out of the cooler, popping the cap off with ease. “New girl you say?”
“Oh Ama, you know. She came here during the meteor shower, the mayor adopted her.”
“Point her out to me.” Ama took out two straws, handing one over to the brown haired woman. She stuck the white plastic tube into the bottle.
“You can’t miss her, she’s the one with burgundy hair. It's quite vibrant.”
Ama peered at the group of kids playing in the waves. Sora was introducing her to Abel, Loma, and Sadia, quite loudly too. That kids so obnoxious. she thought.
The six of them were all smiles, especially when the new girl decided to push Sora into an incoming wave. They all laughed. Innocent, untainted laughter.
“Mmm, what’s her name?”
“Kairi. Pretty isn’t it? Sora adores her already. She’s all he talks about at home!”
“Sounds like your boy’s got his first crush!” gushed Ama with a sharp chuckle.
“They’re just kids, and actually, I don’t think this is the first time he’s been so enamored with someone either. I have a hunch.” The brown haired woman’s blue eyes flicked over to Riku for a moment.
“So where did she come from anyway?” Ama took an audible sip from her soda bottle.
“No one knows. Although there are rumors she comes from….elsewhere.” The woman looked longingly towards the sea.
“There has to be something more across these waters. That’s what Sora believes at least.” she continued with a tired sigh.
“Yet another topic he never seems to stop talking about.”
Ama’s eyes sharpened underneath her sunglasses. “Don’t be ridiculous. Your making it sound like she’s some kind of alien.”
“The islands are all I’ve ever known. But I don’t have a problem with that, I’m happy here.” The brown haired woman smiled; Ama sympathized.
“As long as we have our kids, it doesn’t matter where we are.” she stated.
The brown haired woman nodded; “Of course, although I know it's been difficult...without a father figure in their lives…”
Ama didn’t flinch at the notion of single motherhood, at this point she deemed herself a parental master, but she wasn’t about to make that spiky headed runt’s mother feel bad.
“Death is a cycle of life. The reaper comes for some sooner than others, however…”
Ama pursed her lips compassionately at the brown haired woman, this next thought was always a comfort to her.
“If we always remember our loved ones from the past….they’ll never die.”
As the evening winded down, Ama and the rest of her brood made it back home before the twilight darkened into night. She was a bit tired from the hooting and hollering of her kids, but she was glad they had a good time.
They lived in a small suburban cottage on a grassy knoll, two bedrooms and one bathroom. The twins slept in one room, and Sadia slept with her mother.
In the kitchen Ama was putting the finishing touches on that evening's dinner, a home cooked meal straight from the pages of her mother's old recipe book.
Sadia stood next to Ama, watching the red sauce in the pan cackle to life from the heat. “Are you gonna put that sauce on top?” she asked.
“Yes mija (daughter).” Next to Ama was a glass tray full of tortillas wrapped and stuffed with cheese and chicken.
“ Are you gonna put cheese on top too?” Ama couldn’t help but laugh.
“Well of course! Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to call it enchiladas.”
As soon as she finished cooking, Ama made four plates of food and set them on the table. “La comida esta listo! (the food’s ready)”
Ama loved to watch her kids relish in the food she made; “Wow! Mama this is delicious!” exclaimed Abel.
“Mmmmm….” was the only sound Loma could make while she stuffed her face, Sadia smiled after every bite.
Ama hoped her mother was proud, despite all the chaos she went through every day thanks to her energetically charged children, she was still able to tame them with a warm cooked meal at the end of the day.
“Did you have fun at the beach? Sora’s mom told me about Kairi.”
Abel was the first to speak; “She was kind of quiet at first, but it didn’t take long for her to have fun with us.”
“I thought she was a weirdo.” shrugged Loma, mid-chew.
Ama frowned. “Paloma, why would you say something like that, huh? That’s not a very nice thing to say.”
“I’m sorry! Its just this feeling I got, I dunno.” Paloma’s mother sighed.
“I like her. She was nice to me. She told me she’s gonna teach me how to make stuff.” Sadia offered the table a toothy grin.
“I liked hanging out with her too. I’m glad Sora and Riku are her friends already. I can tell she used to be lonely.” continued Abel.
“Well duh, she’s lonely ‘cause her parents abandoned her!” exclaimed Paloma.
“We can’t jump to conclusions mija (daughter), we don’t know anything about her situation. The only thing you need to worry about is making her feel welcomed.”
Loma shrugged and went back to eating; Ama looked over at her with a concerned look, Paloma was by far the most outspoken of the three, not to mention the most rebellious in nature.
Abel was a nice boy who tried to do the right thing all the time, but Ama could tell actively ‘trying’ to be a good person twenty-four seven put a strain on him….and Sadia, the youngest, was a helpless little thing, very attached to her mother or anyone she’s close to...anyone who can guide her through life. Ama often thought she’s become a little too dependent on others.
They were flawed individuals, but they were only children. And all people, no matter how young or old they were, have flaws, including their very own mother.
Ama got up from the table and headed toward the fridge; “And for dessert, I proudly announce….”
“Your favorite, tres leches cake!” All three of her kids gasped; “A slice for each of you.”
The white frosted spongy cake had always been an absolute hit within her family. There was no one in this world who could ever say they didn’t like tres leches cake.
Abel, Paloma, and Sadia pierced their slices with a fork as soon as their plate hit the table.
The corners of Ama’s rosy lips stretched into a smile. “The rest of the cake is in a pink box in the fridge, but absolutely no cake for breakfast. Entiendes? (understand?)“
All she got in response was a chorus of inaudible ‘yes mama’; Ama laughed, her children were savages.
“You know, I love you guys. Each and every one of you. Very, very much.” She then proceeded to give each of her offspring a hug and a wet kiss, whether they wanted it or not. Paloma was the one who was usually most resistant to mother-daughter affection.
“Okay, stop! Your embarrassing!” cried Paloma, as she broke away from the embrace. She disappeared into her room, probably to play her GameBoy no doubt. I regret ever buying her that thing. thought Ama.
The rest of the evening proceeded with board games and jolly laughter between Ama, Abel, and Sadia. At some point though, Ama decided to check up on her eldest daughter, whose been in her room for over an hour and a half since dinner.
It took two knocks until Paloma yelled “Come in!”
Opening the door fully, Ama tilted her head at her daughter, who laid on the bed mashing buttons on her GameBoy, just as she had been doing all day.
“We’re playing loteria (bingo), wanna join us?” she asked.
“No, I’m okay.”
“Are you sureeeeee?” Ama tried sounding as obnoxious as possible, which only made Loma roll her eyes.
“I’m too old for that.”
“Or maybe you're too old for that.” Ama pointed at the GameBoy, which caused her daughter to scoff.
“Can you just leave me alone right now? I’m almost done with this level!”
Ama sighed. “Okay, have a goodnight then mija.” she leaned over and kissed Paloma’s head of dark hair before returning to the den.
As the clock crept closer to eleven, Ama wrapped up a night of fun and put Sadia to bed.
Meanwhile Abel helped clean up the kitchen, including the dishes; Ama shook her head at the sight.
“You don’t have to do that.” she stated tiredly.
“It’s okay, I wanna help.”
“You always wanna help mijo (son).” Ama ruffled his thick black hair; “Never lose that. You should always want to help people. ”
“Working on anything big tomorrow for work?” asked her son.
“Probably another wedding dress.” Ama joked.
“Did you like being married….to dad?” Abel’s voice remained calm, although his father’s been on his mind quite frequently the past month.
Ama didn’t expect such a deep question so late at night, then again, she knew Abel had been in deep thought recently.
“Of course. I loved him. But the universe sometimes has different plans for us.” Ama didn’t sound sad but accepting, she’s cried enough for one lifetime already.
“I miss him, a lot.” sighed Abel.
Ama put a loving hand to Abel’s cheek; “I know mijo (son).”
The night was slightly colder than usual, but the day was just like any other. As soon as her three children went to bed, Ama knew it was time.
“Man, why does Riku always ace his tests!?” complained Paloma.
Ama’s three children were walking back home from school that day, little to her brother’s surprise, Paloma was in a mood.
“He looks like he studies...Something you should start doing Loma. Instead of playing that GameBoy all the time.”
Loma sneered at Abel, while Sadia made a dash toward the front door. She was excited to tell her mom more about Kairi and her knack for crafts. Today she taught her how to make charms.
“Mama!” Sadia called as she entered the house. Paloma and Abel were right behind her arguing, but the youngest didn’t pay them any mind. When Sadia didn’t get a response, a feeling of dread pierced her stomach.
“Mama?” Nobody was in the kitchen, which was strange because Ama was usually home before the kids got back from school. She’d be cooking dinner when they’d arrive.
“Mama?!” Sadia yelled this time as her heart began beating with anxiety.
“Mom’s not here!”
Abel raised an eyebrow at Sadia’s bewilderment, “Well maybe she went to the store.”
Loma opened the refrigerator door, but the shelves were fully stocked. “Hmmm, I dunno for what. The fridge is full of food.”
“Maybe she’s with Sora or Riku’s mom. Their friends after all.” he suggested
“She should’ve left a note then!” exclaimed Sadia. Paloma and Abel exchanged concerned glances.
The three kids searched the house up and down, the backyard, and front yard, but nothing. Abel called Sora and Riku’s residence on the house phone, but Ama wasn’t there either.
“Abel. Sadia.” Paloma’s voice was grim. “I found it.”
Back in the kitchen Loma held a white letter up, face a sickly white. Her siblings quickly joined her, and once they realized what was going on, their expressions matched their sisters.
Sadia began to cry.