The next morning Maria woke with a gasp. Her head pounded from drinking a bottle of wine all by herself. She scrambled off the couch and knocked her wine glass to the floor. She was lucky it didn’t shatter. It must have been sleeping on the couch with her. She must have finished the wine because there was nothing but a red stain in the bottom of the glass. She didn’t quite remember falling asleep. She remembered staring out the window waiting for the spirits to come and eat the feast. Her nerves threatened to constrict her throat. Last night was Day of the Dead. She slowly turned her head to confirm her worst fear. It was true. She had fallen asleep with makeup on her face! Now the cheap Halloween sludge was smudged all over her grandmother’s couch! She was such an idiot. She stumbled out of the living room into the kitchen. “Crap. Crap!” she cursed.
She caught a glance of her face in the mirror. The once beautiful makeup job was now a complete mess on her face. She looked less like a Day of the Dead celebrant and more like a drunken Halloween date. But there was no time to fix her face. Her family would murder her if they found out she ruined the couch. Everything in this house was precious or at least so she thought. In reality, her uncle would probably sell as much as he could on Craigslist after the family picked through the belongings. It was sad really, her grandmother’s last belongings picked away by estate sale shoppers.
She grabbed a mess of Kirkland Signature paper towels. As a child, she always thought Kirkland products were from Kirtland Air Force base in Albuquerque. Her mom laughed and told her about the “t” in Kirtland and about far-off city of Kirkland, Washington, home of Costco. Her uncle bought her a giant Costco-sized package of paper towels when she first decided to stay in her grandmother’s ramshackle house. Not that she would use that many during her sojourn in the desert. Her uncle was kind of lazy unlike his sister, Maria’s mom, who was so driven and passionate to the point of being a little too intense sometimes. Maria definitely inherited some of her father’s ability to be okay with doing nothing whereas Mom couldn’t sit still. Maria gathered a giant wad of paper towels. She doused them with cold water following her mother’s advice about getting rid of stains.
She brought the still dripping pile of paper towels into the living room when she screamed and dropped the slopping mess. The food on the porch was gone. There was an empty wine glass and a tipped over wine bottle. The burrito, the green chile, and everything else was gone! She carefully made her way to the front door. Even though the morning sun was bright in the sky, she walked like she was in a horror movie discovering a dead body. She wanted desperately to see her grandmother last night. She knew her grandmother was dead. She knew there was no magic in the desert. It was just a fantasy.
She pushed open the front door. If she had been in an actual horror movie, she should have a gun or a frying pan but Maria wasn’t thinking. In fact, her eyes welled up as she surveyed the feast. It was really gone. Every last morsel had been eaten. There was no food left on the table. Maria up righted the empty wine bottle. There was a red stain in the bottom of the glass. Maria’s knees buckled. She slumped to the ground and began to cry.