JOAN RIVERA - FIRST TIMERS
Joan Rivera is a student at Full Sail University and is currently taking up a Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing.
Ever since mom passed away Christmas morning was mayhem. The clangor of pots and pans hitting each other, my father’s hoarse taut voice booming throughout the house as he tried to get dinner started, and my older brother’s bickering as they chopped the wood out back. The smell of turkey roasting in the oven wafted through the air. Dad was ecstatic, caught it himself. Said we’d feast and have a real Christmas dinner. He tried to replicate mom’s Christmas feast, but it was never the same, she was gone now. I wish she was here; I could use her wisdom. The bathroom was stuffy, tears pricked behind my eyes and a vision of my mother flashed in my memory. What would mom do if she was hear? A knock sounded at the door interrupting my thoughts.
"You okay rabbit?” Too scared to answer, I stare ahead at the hideous lime green wallpaper painted with specks of dandelions. Mom’s idea. When she was here, I’d make a face of disgust at the sheer sight of it, now, it made me cry. Dad wouldn’t take the hint, so I stand and flush the toilet watching until the red water turned translucent again. I open the door and I must have looked like a deer in headlights. With no way out and an urgent desperation, I tell him my dilemma. I could sense his disinclination, he was confused, as was I. I always thought mothers were supposed to be present for this kind of thing. His calloused hand gathers mine and he sits me down on the sofa. He calls my two older brothers, Sam and Pete. He tells them what’s troubling me and I begin to cry, the salty water tingling on my tongue as the ache in my stomach grows.
“Should we take her to the hospital?” Pete asks.
“Should I call Diana?” That’s Sam’s girlfriend, the only girl that comes around. Fear vibrates throughout my body. If no one knew the answer, what would I do?
“What would mom do?” The house goes silent, only the distant Christmas harmony coming from the antique radio could be heard in the living room.
And there it was, the answer, what would mom do? I look up at dad whose warm aging face looks back at me in reassurance. I smile through the tears wiping them away. Like mom, I was becoming a woman, it would all be okay.
My brothers sit beside me peppering kisses on my hair, wiping away my tears. I smile, the heavy rock weighing down my heart dissolving.
“We love you Sofia, we’ll do our best.” And I believed them.
A sudden pungent smell assaults the air. My face scrunches up and I peak around to the kitchen. Just as I suspected, smoke begins to emerge from the oven.
“Dad! The turkey!”
“Dang it!” He rushes to the kitchen and we burst into laughter.
“Dinner at the diner it is,” Sam says.
We laugh some more and run after dad to the kitchen to help and in that moment, I think of mom and smile. She was with me all along.