Beats paying $10.50 for a movie ticket
There is nothing like being amongst familia. I sat on my dad’s worn leather recliner observing my jubilant family members. The party for my mama was in full swing. Every single freaking one of our family members were here singing, drinking, and dancing throughout our backyard. My mom and dad were competing against my tias and tios for salsa champions of the world. Ramon, my 16-year old brother, and David, my 20-year old brother, were kicking a soccer ball with some of our cousins. My grandma was exuberantly singing along to an old Marc Antony song, proving that once again that woman can pound more drinks than your typical frat boy. Of course, it probably didn’t help that the rest of my aunts and uncles were cheering her on. All in all it felt *good* to be basking in the atmosphere of love and family.
Or so I thought. “Ouch,” I exclaimed. I rubbed my head gingerly where that damn soccer ball hit it, effectively ceasing my feelings of love towards at least one family member. Turning towards my brother I saw him bending over laughing with the rest of the players. “Seriously Ramon! Watch where you kick the pinche ball!”
Not even missing a beat on the dance floor, my mama shouted at me. “Cariño! Watch your mouth around your little cousins!”
I rolled my eyes at her. “Mom! My little cousins are all at least 15 years-old! I think they’ve head pin-“
My tigress of a mother wasn’t relenting so easily and quickly interrupted me. “Hey! It’s my birthday so you must do as I say. So now I say to come here and dance with me!” Her mouth was set in a serious line to match her demanding tone, but her eyes twinkled mischievously. I relented and we fell into a fevered pace to Elvis Crespo’s ‘Suavamente’. Luckily for me, my slayer abilities made me an amazing dancer. Prior to the change, I doubt that I would have been able to go head to head with my mama.
The night passed quickly. By 1am most of my family rested their drink-riddled bodies into coveted lawn chairs or bare spots in the grass that were not saturated with spilled drink. One thing is for sure, our family sure as hell knows how to celebrate occasions.
“Sooo, Sofia you’ve been quiet all night! Don’t tell us you miss your fancy London school already!” I peer sleepily at my Tia Alicia who somehow made it almost the whole night without prying. Her dark curls shone in the moonlight and her eyes eagerly searched my face, just waiting for a facial expression to break-down and translate to my other aunts.
“No, of course not Tia Alicia! You know there is no better place than being amongst familia.” My tone was sincere and I hope she heard that in my statement.
I am the first and only person from the family to leave our enclosure on the West side of Cleveland and it pained my family deeply. Sometimes it breaks my heart because I do not want them to feel like unimportant figures in my life and that I left only because I had to. Once I learned my true identity from Willow she bade me to travel to England with her to receive training with the others. After a long process between me, her, and Giles I rearranged my plans to attend Cleveland State University to instead attend Oxford, where somehow Giles took care of my tuition and late enrollment. I left within a month to begin slayer training and my studies began that fall. Since then, I have bagged my share of baddies in England and beyond. Unfortunately, my family did not know any of this and often came to the conclusion I chose to travel out of want rather than need and that visiting them is not a high priority.
“Good mija, I am glad to hear of it! Now be a good niece and get me some more rum, ay?” Winking at me, she quickly finished the rest of her rum and coke. I chuckled at her comment. It seems that no matter how long I’ve been gone, some things never change.
(The next evening)
Rellenos de papas. Em[anadas. Arroz. MMM… My mother had made the most exquisite meal for our family. Seated at the dining room table were my parents, Ramon, David, and I. Mama loved to baby her dearest children and in honor of my visit she made all my favorite dishes. Every delectable bite was cherished because there is nothing like my mother’s cooking, especially in England. Like most other tight-knit families, conversation flowed freely. But during desert ‘Toma’ by Pitbull***** creeped into the air.
“Oye Loca! Ven pa’ca! Si tu quiere’ que te coma toda,
Si tu quiere’ que te coma toda…”
My mama looked at me sharply. “Sofia Isabella Ramirez! You know better than to leave your cell phone turned on during dinner!” I cringed internally. Mama had always stressed the importance of family meals and hated phone calls during dinner. Unbeknownst to her, that ringer indicated a Scooby was calling me and I needed to answer.
“Lo siento mama, papa! This is an extremely important call and I must answer it. Perdoname, por favor”. I eyed her apologetically and quickly rushed into the other room.
David called after me. “Sofia, you got a boy or something? If you miss the call, its not the end of the world!” My whole family was in an uproar about his joke, likely remembering my high school years when I was boy-crazy to the extreme. What they did not understand was in this case, the phone call could indeed indicate the end of the world.
I picked up my cell and winced when I saw the caller ID. Willow. It must be important for her to call me. Dammit. I have been home only two full days and already they are calling me. When the hell are the forces of darkness going to take a break??? Sometimes I wish the world did not have cell phones so I could avoid being in touch like this. Except, I guess Willow would pull some voodoo on me and start sending messages telepathically. That thought made me groan out loud as I answered the call
“Hey Willow…What’s the word?”
The voice on the other end was strained. “Sofia thank God I got to you. Andrew has been going through some of Giles’ books-“
I laughed wickedly. “Better make sure he’s not looking at the ones displaying naked drawings of vampires or demons!” Andrew was a pretty socially inept dude and easy to make fun of. However, he also out a lot of effort into the cause and has kind of came into his own as a Watcher after training with Giles.
“You know, Xander only caught him doing that one time and it was a while ago.” Even though she was thousands of miles away, I could have sworn her eyes were rolling as she laughed. “Anyways, big news. Looks like that the mystical forces surrounding the Cleveland Hellmouth are opening up some dimensional portal tonight. Should be tonight anyways… Or in the year 2066. We’re not quite sure…”
I sighed heavily. It was extremely frustrating to deal with prophecies and magic. More than once I had wasted my time waiting for portals or rituals that never arrived. “Hey now Ms. Slayer, I’d like to see you hit the books once in a while”, she retorted with a bite to her words.
“Ok, ok, I’m sorry! You know I’m a bit to much like Buffy. Boo reading, yay killing.”
Willow used her ‘frustrated’ voice. “Hmmmph. Now, if you don’t mind…”
“Please, go ahead.”
“There’s a portal opening up tonight. Potential big bad. I need you to meet up with the Cleveland slayer contact to help out.” She gave me the directions and wished me luck. Meanwhile, I contemplated a good excuse to give my family and prepared for another typical night slayer Saturday night of blood and gore.
I suppose it beats paying $10.50 for a movie ticket.
*Tias and Tios (Spanish): Aunts and Uncles
**Carino (Spanish): A term of endearment meaning honey or loved one
*** Elvis Crespo (Salsa artist). See the song at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Li6hRF0zTg
**** Rellenos de papas. Emanadas. Arroz: Puerto Rican cuisine. And absolutly delicious!
***** 'Toma' by Pitbull can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zqd7JZozXoQ