His grandmother’s spit misted his face as she said “Callate!” Jordan and his grandmother, whom he called Mamita, were sitting across from each other at the kitchen table. The California summer sun was streaming in through the window; the spit sparkled as it shot over to Jordan. He looked down at his bowl of untouched Fruit Loops and thought of the pink milk and saliva, gulping down the feeling of slight disgust. Jordan scrunched up his button nose, dotted with freckles, like chocolate chips in on a cookie.
“No debes de hablar de tus suenos antes de comer el desayuno.” Mamita shook her head and wagged her finger at Jordan as she said this. Her face was stern, but her eyes were kind, so he knew she wasn’t really mad. She had soft, tanned olive skin with little wrinkles emanating from her eyes and the corners of her mouth and furrows of them crossing her forehead. Her cheeks were droopy and she had what Jordan called “turkey jiggle” because when she spoke the skin of jowls jiggled. Whenever he said that about her she would say “Ay!” crossing her arms and lifting her chin in the air. Jordan would then come up behind her saying sorry. He liked that she was growing out her hair, which she dyed a “Chestnut Brown” every month. Sometimes, in the afternoon, while they watched “Thomas the Train” in Mamita’s room, he’d comb his little fingers through her curls. “No, de eso no se habla”, she opened her eyes wide to emphasize her point.
“Why?” Jordan asked, frowning. Why shouldn’t he speak about his dreams before eating breakfast? He couldn’t even eat his breakfast now that it was spit-laced cereal.
Mamita sighed. “Ay, niño. Porque no. Malas cosas podrian pasar.” She dipped her pan dulce in her café con leche. Crumbs showered the table as she bit into her pastry, a drip of coffee landed on Mamita’s white t-shirt. She groaned and dapped at the brown dot furiously with her napkin.
“What bad things could happen?” Jordan was not going to let this go that easily. He cocked his head to the left and looked at his grandmother with his sweet chocolate brown eyes. He knew she was going to get irritated with all this questioning.
“Yordan,” Mamita couldn’t really figure out how to say the J in Jordan, “ya no mas.” She looked at him with raised eyebrows and a straight mouth. When Mamita said “ya no mas” it meant ya no mas. Jordan knew that he would have to drop the subject. As Mamita looked at Jordan, his dark brown hair, almond shaped eyes and tan, smooth skin, she couldn’t help but picturing her daughter as a child. She picked up her “Grandma’s off her rocker” mug and plate, saying “Gracias.” Jordan got up too, getting ready to escape to the backyard.
“No, termina tu desayuno. Me voy a bañar.” Finish your breakfast, she ordered.
“Aw, Mamita! I’m not hungry…” Jordan dragged his feet causing his sneakers to make little black trails on the linoleum flooring. Luckily, Mamita didn’t notice.
Jordan sat down at the table and crossed his arms across his chest and pouted, even though he knew Mamita had gone to take a shower and he’s facial expressions would be seen by no one. He was still thinking about why she had told him that he couldn’t talk about his dreams before breakfast. Mamita had told him bad things could happen, but Jordan didn’t really believe her. Silly things she made up, that was all. He had dreamed of going to Disneyland and about Mickey Mouse riding the carousel with him. What bad could come from telling his grandmother that before he ate his breakfast?
He could hear the water had been turned on in the bathroom shower. Jordan crept off the chair and looked into the living room from behind the breakfast nook. He got down on all fours and crawled to the coffee table. He made his breath go faster, acting as if he were a soldier in combat. The enemy could be just around the corner. Taking a deep breath, Jordan rolled to the couch and climbed up onto the soft cushions. He peered over the top of the couch, down the hallway, making sure the coast was clear. As soon as he made sure Mamita was in the bathroom, he dashed back to the table, grabbed his bowl of cereal and poured it all down the drain. It was a hard thing to do because he couldn’t really see into the sink, even if he was standing on his tippy toes.
Jordan would go to Mamita’s house every morning in the summer. His mom would wake him up early in the morning and he’d sleepwalk to the car. By the time he got to yellow, stucco-finished house, he would be hungry for breakfast. The rest of the day would be passed with him playing in the backyard, with the highlight of the day being an afternoon walk around the neighborhood. His favorite shoes to wear were the one’s he’d gotten for Christmas the previous year. They were Thomas the Train sneakers that lit up when he walked. Mamita always held his hand during those summer walks and he’d jump up to prevent stepping on cracks. Christopher, his cousin had once said that if he’d step on a crack, he’d break his momma’s back. Those shoes were getting too small to house his growing feet. When they got back from their walk, his mom would be leaning against their red SUV, waiting for Jordan.
That night, when his mom tucked Jordan into bed, he told her what Mamita had said about dreams.
“You should listen to your Mamita.”
“Because she’s old?” He rolled to his side and pulled his Thomas the Train cover up to his chin. He was annoyed that she didn’t take his side. His mom tried stifling a laugh.
“Noches,” she said as she kissed the top of his head.
… to be continued…