This week the challenge was to write a story about a picture they posted. I chose to write a fiction piece. Here is the picture and my story.
Ana Maria sat by herself on the edge of the merry-go-round. She would have liked to be sitting on the white horse with a yellow saddle, but it was no use—she did not have the money to put into the coin slot to make the machine go round and round. Ana sighed. Mama was in the Bi-Lo store with baby Pepe held tight to her chest in a sling. Ana and mama and Pepe were at the store doing the weekly grocery shopping; well mama was doing the shopping. Pepe was sleeping and Ana, who had grown tired of following mama around the store, had asked if she could sit outside. Ana did not like shopping for groceries. Oh, she did not mind going to the store. She did not mind having to do the work to choose the food and put it in the basket. The part Ana did not like was that there were so many wonderful things in the store to buy and mama always said, “Not this week, Mija. Maybe next week. Maybe next week there will be more dinero.” Never had a next week come when there was more money.
Ana looked up when she saw movement out of the corner of her eye. A little girl about Ana's age and what seemed to be her grandmother were walking out of the Bi-Lo. Both the little girl and the grandmother were smiling and talking and laughing. The little girl had an ice cream in her hand. The kind of ice cream that was in the store freezer next to the cash register. It came in a little paper cup, that, when you peeled back the paper, there was a cone topped with vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts. Ana always wanted to get one of those cones! But every time she had asked mama if she could have one, mama said, “Maybe next week.” Ana looked more closely at the grandmother. She was carrying two fabric bags that were full of groceries. In one of the bags, Ana could see a blue box of cereal that had an orange tiger on the front. Ana's lower lip poked out. She always wanted that cereal, too. It looked so good. She had seen commercials on Mrs. Blackstone's TV for that cereal. Mrs. Blackstone was Ana's next door neighbor. Sometimes she would let Ana watch cartoons in the afternoon. The commercial always said that the cereal was crunchy, sweet, delicious and part of a nutritious breakfast. A cartoon of the tiger always came on and he talked with a growl that made Ana laugh. Ana needed a nutritious breakfast, didn't she? Usually for breakfast mama made corn tortillas with beans and eggs. Ana always had a big glass of milk to drink with her breakfast. As good as mama's tortillas were, they were not the cereal with the big orange tiger. From the top of the other bag Ana could see a jar of peanut butter with a tiny picture of a flying boy and a loaf of white bread in a bag with brightly colored polka dots. The peanut butter mama bought always had a plain white label, and mama never bought bread. Mama always made tortillas. She would make flour tortillas and spread them with peanut butter then sprinkle them with a little sugar. Ana supposed that was pretty good. She always did love tortillas hot off the griddle, and mama always allowed Ana to eat as many as she wanted.
The little girl and her grandmother walked away and Ana looked back at the door of the store. Mama and Pepe were walking out. “Come, Mija,” called mama. “It is time to go home.”
They walked down the street. Ana pulled her little, red wagon which held the groceries. They walked through two stop lights then turned right. When they reached the third house, they were home. Ana picked the grocery bags out of the wagon and followed mama into the house. Mama put Pepe down on the floor and he began to cry. “Mijo, mama has to help Ana put the groceries away,” mama soothed.
“It's o.k., Mama. I can put the groceries away by myself. Pepe wants his lunch. You can take care of him.”
Mama smiled at Ana, then picked up Pepe and carried him to the bedroom. Ana continued to put the groceries away. A jar of the peanut butter with the plain white label. A bag of white flour and another of corn masa. Two big bags of dried pinto beans and a cardboard container of oatmeal. That would be a treat—it had been a long time since momma had bought oatmeal. She reached into the bag again. When she pulled out her hand, she found she had picked up a very small box of raisins. Ana's face broke into a huge smile. Mama was planning to make oatmeal raisin cookies! Ana did a quiet dance around the kitchen. Just as she finished, mama walked back into the room.
Oatmeal raisin cookies definitely were not the chocolate dipped cones, but they were a treat. And mama always let Ana help make the cookies. Ana loved to pour all the ingredients into the measuring cups. The house always smelled so good when they were baking! Daddy would walk in after work. He would pick Ana up and swing her into the air and ask how his Mija Baker was doing. Ana loved it when daddy came home. The whole family would sit at the table and eat beans and rice, then they would play a game together. Tonight after playing the game, they would eat oatmeal raisin cookies.
Ana decided that being swung into the air by daddy was much better than riding the white horse with the yellow saddle. And while the ice cream from the store looked really yummy, it was not something that she and mama could make together. As far as the peanut butter and bread went—mama had promised Ana that soon she would teach her how to make tortillas. One day it would be Ana making the tortillas, spreading them with peanut butter and sprinkling them with sugar for Pepe. Ana loved her family and she loved that they had each other to share food and love and laugh. Family was much, much better than any wonderful thing that could be bought at the Bi-Lo. Her family was priceless.