Here’s more avocado-reminiscing for you.
I started putting handful after handful of the second pile onto the bonfire. I saw the flames rise, and it was the perfect background. We resumed our scene as the flames grew redder, matching the color of the forming dusk. By luck, the dusk brought a slight wind with it, which not only helped the flames grow but also dangerously edged them towards the rose bush. Unfortunately, I was too entranced by the crackle of the flames and the clash of the swords to notice the emerging danger. But Mama, who decided to check up on us, saw that the flames were directing their dehydrating and possibly flower-injuring heat to her prized roses.
“Adrienne!” she yelled, furiously charging to our direction.
My brother and I stopped in the middle of a clash and looked to our obviously fuming mother. What’s wrong? I nervously thought. She pointed at the disastrous event happening behind me. I turned around and saw the red orange waves flailing at the bush. My eyes grew in horror. Oh no!!!
When she got to the scene, Mama gave me “the look.” The resulting punishment, however, was not few stinging pinches to my side or wicked hand slaps to my buttocks region. No, it was more brutal. Mama told me to stand beside the rose bush and experience the fire myself.
I shook my head. “No. I don’t want to. Let’s just kill the fire.”
“No! Go and stand beside the plant,” she commanded, pointing at my spot. “Now!”
I indignantly set myself beside the bush. Once there, I immediately felt the searing heat all over my face, my arms and my legs. My eyes began to water. It was hot, too hot. Beyond the flames and the smoke, I heard her sermon.
“This is your problem. How many times have I told you to follow what I say? Is your head really that hard? It’s always in with one ear, out with the other for you. Nothing stays in,” she charged.
“I know. But I was going to kill the flam-,” I reasoned.
“Don’t make excuses,” she cut me off. “You are too careless. It’s all about having fun and playing for you, no? What about the roses?”
Her words hit me. I tried to keep the salty tears from running down my cheeks. I held on to them with the anger brewing inside me. I watched her interrogate my brother and give him three pinches to his side. But that was it. Nothing more.
“It’s not fair!” I screamed, jumping up-and-down out of anger and the thought that it might relieve the sting to my skin. “Why am I the only one here?! Biboy agreed to this too! He never gets in trouble! I’m always the one to take the hit!
She turned her gaze from my brother and glared at me. “Because you’re the older one. And I left you in charge here. I told you to be careful with the roses. But what did you do? You took advantage of that trust, and went your own way.”
By now, the tears were irrepressibly rushing down my steaming face. She saw them.
“You need to learn how to value and respect others, even plants. They would appreciate the care. And in turn they would respect and value you as well,” she counseled, calmer now.
“But why do I always get the punishment? Why can’t I be like Ate? You never punish her; you just talk to her. You even let her say something back,” I pursued, bringing in my seventeen-year-old sister to the ongoing back and forth.
“You’re not ready yet. You’re only ten years old. You would not understand,” she replied. “I told you that experience is the best teacher. Responsibility, respectfulness and the others – you need to experience them to learn them. You sister’s old enough to just be reminded of the traits she already knows; that’s why she doesn’t get pinch or slap or this anymore.”
I seemed to understand what she was saying, but I still thought that it was unfair.
“And you should know that your Ate also got pinches and slaps when she was your age. And Biboy is already getting some,” she added, hinting. “No one escapes them, Det.”
“No one escapes them, Det” rang in my head. I looked up at her, wiping my tears. By now,her glare had softened into a caring gaze, and she finally told me to come back to her side. Mama then asked me to help put out the fire, and re-hydrate the rose bush, especially its flowers. Before handing me the pail of water, my brother splashed some to my face. It felt good after the whole incident, so I held back from yelling at him for doing it. I guess that was his way of saying “sorry.”
When we finished, our trio walked back inside the house for dinner. We sandwiched Mama in the middle; my brother held on to her left hand, while I wrapped my arms around her waist.
“I don’t want the roses to die. They look and smell really good,” I told her.
“I think they’ll survive. They’ve been blooming their way through this hot summer, so I’m sure they’re going to be fine,” Mama agreed.
“How about the avocado?” I asked.
“Well, we water and fertilize it regularly. And now we just smoked it. So maybe it can thank us by giving us fruit, right?” Mama said.
“I guess. But we should smoke it again to make it healthier,” I suggested.
Mama looked at me and smiled. “Tomorrow. But for now, let’s have some spaghetti.”