by Tabitha Chirrick

I drop the flan halfway to the table. It oozes into an unceremonious pool of custard and caramel sauce on the rug, but I can’t say sorry, even though Mami says I always must. No words come when I look up and see Abuela’s funny head.

A stormcloud blooms from her gray hair. It grows toward the ceiling as her faded eyes narrow at the mess by my feet. Silvery strands of wind glide out of the cloud like snakes from a hole and slither through the dining room until the linen curtains billow in their wake.

Lightning cracks through the storm, flashing images which evaporate into mist. I see Abuela humming as she stirs a wooden spoon through bubbling, golden sugar; Abuela sitting in her bed upstairs with a photograph trembling between her hands; Abuela, running her fingers through mi muerto Abuelo’s dark hair. Te amo, the stormborn Abuela whispers to him, and a torrent of pictures pour from the darkness.

The visions are all of a young couple I’ve only ever seen framed above the kitchen sink. Dancing, drinking, celebrating, kissing, hugging, holding, and finally, making flan. The man’s arms around the woman’s middle as she stirs the pot, his nostrils breathing in the nape of her neck. Golden sugar bubbling in their brightly lit kitchen. A kitchen exactly like Abuela’s, but brand new.

I jump as Abuela inhales sharply. The storm sucks inside her, like a genie swirling back into its lamp. The howling wind gone, mi familia’s chatter from the living room returns. A soft, warm sound, but somehow emptier than before.

“Oh, don’t look so sad, mija.” Abuela kneels down and brushes a tear off my face. “We can make another.”

Tabitha Chirrick is a writer of all things speculative, taking inspiration from her comic book-ridden childhood. She makes her home in the gadget and burrito-filled splendor that is Silicon Valley.