Excerpts from “When I Had Shoes”

In Memory of Abuelito Hector 

“Once I was ready, I walked through the kitchen into the dining area through a swinging door. It was the kind of door that restaurants have, the kind of door servers swing through, with a circular window at the top center. Seeing abuelito sitting at the end of the table, sipping his coffee and reading the newspaper caused my first smile of the day. I would run toward him and sit right on his lap. He would rub his black scruffy beard on my cheek and I would laugh because although it hurt, it also tickled. He was the funniest man I knew and I was his absolute joy. Slowly, the rest of my hungry family would join in and make comments about the pre aroma of breakfast. Early morning, the house smelled of coffee and the fierce scent of Ecuadorian cheese.” 


“Sometimes, Abuelito chased me around the living room. I would jump over the floral couch and run on the tiled floors of our house. He would try to crack my toes and Anita and I would run out to the balcony. One particular time he locked us in there.  He sat on the couch and looked through the transparent sliding doors laughing hysterically. His laugh screamed satisfaction like that of a bully’s. Eventually, after nearly ten minutes of laughing along, we began to cry. Looking over his shoulder, he realized our pitiful tears, but I couldn’t tell whether or not he actually felt bad. As I wiped my eyes, unable to see, I heard the door slide open. I looked up at him calmly, and he reached down to hold one of us in each arm. He laughed a light laugh and as Anita and I cried our last tear, he carried on to torture us with his beard. We yelled until Mami heard us. She marched into the room, grabbed me from his arms and yelled at him for making us cry. He smirked a 5-year old’s smirk after a funny and triumphant prank. Mami giggled a little as he explained what happened because she knew (and we all did) that he was an old man with a boy’s heart.” 


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