Quince, Part I

    In the middle of the night, having given up on getting much sleep, Sara got out of her bed. Her feet padded across the cool wood floor as she walked over to her ‘closet’. There, hanging from double wooden hangers, was the most beautiful dress she had ever laid eyes on. Even by the moonlight, there was a slight glimmer, a sheen, a wink where the cool white light hit. Her hands, newly manicured and polished, rifled across the top. Lace frilled around the neckline, satin folded coolly into lace and sequins.

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    Sara sighed contentedly, eyeing the dress that would be the talk of the village the next day. Content with touching, feeling the reality of her dress, she headed back to bed. Curled up under multicolored blankets, she slept peacefully, dreaming of her big day.

    As Sara slept, far different things were happening around her. Her mother had been up all day, and it seemed that Vilma would remain awake for a few more hours. The cakes were frosted, covered in the standard white icing. Fifteen round confections, of varying sizes, all lined up in three neat rows of five, awaiting decoration. They were made with her secret butter recipe, tender yet with a crumbly texture that went well with the icing.

    She chose the tips for her pastry bag, working from memory, self-taught and creative. Her confections were admired throughout the village, and for her daughter, Vilma would make sure the rosettes, the seed pearls, and the frosty green leaves would come together to create a masterpiece. Color swirled into the creamy, buttery frosting that she would pipe into beautiful bouquets. She mixed and stirred, adding hints of color here and there, changing up the tone – hoping that the lamps’ glow was giving her the correct color.

    With deft fingers, and only a few broken stems and leaves, Vilma finally finished her cakes. The smallest was covered in the smallest rosettes, in pinks and purples, with striking green throughout. This was to top the tier, but until the icing set, she kept them apart, opting to assemble before the party began. The moon was already looking to set in the west when she finally washed her hands and face, ready to sleep a few hours before waking to prepare everything else.

    She lay in bed, mentally crossing off her checklist. The months it had taken to plan this party, from the first moment it was mentioned, to the painstaking money saving, the fattening of the calf and two pigs, the planting of corn for the tamalitos and tamales, for everything. With only one daughter, the effort, the exhaustion, the work it was taking to finalize everything was worth it.

    Next to her, her husband lay snoring. He smelled of the grill, having spent all afternoon digging the hole for the pibil pork, which was at that hour, slowly cooking down to perfection. To avoid getting ill (pasmo), Josue locked himself in the bedroom immediately after, lying down until he fell asleep. It wouldn’t do to have him fall ill after all the anticipation and hard work for Sara. The calf had been butchered and seasoned, ready to start cooking the next day. With the help of his two brothers, Josue built a grilling area, packing heavy rocks, laying down large sheets of grates to contain as much meat as possible. With the guest list topping over 200, and with plans to continue the party for at least two days after, he wanted to provide as much food for his friends and family as he could.

    Everything had pretty much been a lifetime of preparation. From the moment Vilma had given birth to her last child, and only girl, the family had been planning the momentous occasion that was coming upon them. With the raucous sounds of four boys on the ranch spread, having a sweet tempered girl provided balance. She was every bit her father’s little girl, and despite the admiring looks that came her way when she skipped to the village shops, or travelled outside of their little community, she only had eyes for the man who did everything for her happiness.

    Had she been born with a different disposition, she probably would have been a spoilt, selfish brat. Instead, she was sweet – loving with everyone. From helping around the farm, to keeping company with her mother and grandmother in the kitchen while trying her hand at the cooking, she knew every inch of the ranch. It was at the ranch that she would be celebrated in grand style, giving the villagers a respite, something wonderful to remember during the hot, hard farming days ahead.

    She slept in her bed, dreaming of all the wonderful things she would enjoy on her special day. Her day as a quinceañera.

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