Saturday, November 22, 2008

I have been ungrateful

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is "Grateful." These prompts are a great way to try a quick different direction from my ongoing work in progress. And for that I'm grateful! Here it is:

I Have Been Ungrateful

There is a dusty little town some miles off of Interstate 25 north of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the Sangre de Cristo -- Blood of Christ -- mountains fill the eastern sky like white knuckles on a fist.

In this dusty little town is a dusty little restaurant attached to the cook and owner’s house. The handwritten menus are laminated in torn plastic. Inside the air is close and warm, thick with humidity and the aroma of roasting chiles and the pinon fire smoldering in the corner brick fireplace.

Dad and I were the only ones there, shouldering in from the starry desert cold, blowing on our hands as Maria handed us the menus. She clucked at our confusion, all white hair and dark eyebrows, and recommended green chile and posole stew, for both of us. We rested our elbows on the grey formica table, unzipping our expensive fleece jackets, stretching out, sighing into the folding chairs. We had been walking in the high country for three days. We were unshaven and unwashed and hungry for warmth and food cooked on a real stove.

Red Christmas lights glowed from the walls, illuminating children’s drawings, statues of the Virgin Mary, paintings of Jesus and desert mesas, faded school pictures.

We heard voices through a doorway: a small group of children and adults, was singing. It took us a moment to realize the unsteady and out-of-tune melody was “Happy Birthday dear Grandpa.” We stopped crunching on chips to listen.

The song finished and a child’s thin voice said, “Grandpa, why are you crying?”

Outside, the stars spread a milky arm across the clear black sky, and the snow on the Blood of Christ mountains glowed blue in the starlight.

12 comments:

SweetTalkingGuy said...

Sometimes it takes a little something to make us realise just how lucky we are.

Linda Jacobs said...

Really beautiful! Love the knuckles and the milky arm!

"Sunshine" said...

Beautifully written--I love the ending.

linda may said...

This is lovely, something special.

Lilly said...

Wow, I can almost smell the food.

paisley said...

oh that was good.. so well written and a lovely scene as well.....

BJ Roan said...

Great visuals. Loved the ending.

Quin Browne said...

beautifully painted.

Granny Smith said...

This is like coming in from a cold place to the warmth of fire and home - which is what you describe so perfectly.

Once in awhile I just have to comment on a particularly appropriate word verification prompt that appears. The one I now see below this comment is "andsi" which I choose to interpret as "and" in English and "si" in Spanish. Perfect for this warm blend of story.

Peter S said...

Great vignette. Like a chipotle--layers of smoke, earth, and fire greater than the sum of its parts.

S R Wood said...

Holy cow, thanks everyone for the comments. This really did happen, in a slightly different form (names, time of year) and it might have been the moment that made me want to be a writer. As if there's just one moment.

The day after I wrote this I spent the afternoon cooking green chile and pork posole stew. Yum!

*~sis~* said...

beautiful images....great ending!