There is a party in my house tonight.
I sprinkle sugar over the coffees and wrap the stem of a cempasuchil around the ears of the cups. I set the napkin for each cup. Yellow for Leonel for it’s the color of his favorite futbol team. Red for Geno for she preferred bright lipsticks. Gold for my sister’s friend’s sister for I like it when things shine and since she’s my age, I thought she would like it too. White and delicate for the grand singers who might had just come for a minute or so for I’m sure they had many parties to attend.
I place a shot of mezcal next to each cup of coffee and line the tip of the glass with salt. I cut up the limes and wipe away the juice that fell onto the table. I place them next to each shot softy and delicately. I place the basket of sweet bread on the table and set out fine, golden plates. In each one, I place a loaf of sweet bread with the shape of bones and with sugar over them. I light the candles. The flames dance and twirl without music. The smell of burning wax merges with the smell of the sweet coffee and the sour lime. I grab a framed picture of each guest and place them in front of their seats. I sit in the center let the perforated paper tingle my legs. I wear a short, black dress and soft makeup. My hair is up in a bun with small pearls decorating it. I connect my cellphone to the speakers and open my playlist. Something slow and sweet from forty decades ago. Then an upbeat, modern one and finally one that my rock stars can sing along to. I placed my phone on my lap and ready myself to press play
I close my eyes and wait for midnight.
The clock echoes with its low dings. The wind sings with it. I press play on my phone. The melody hums as it fills the room. The old voice sings without a care in the world, soft and sweet. A hand falls over my hair and strokes it. I can hear the whispers of the guests. My name three times. Leonel used to do that. Two hands grab my cheeks and caress them with a laugh. They glide like silk over my skin. Geno used to touch my cheeks like that. A kiss on my cheek and a chill down my spine. Leonel calls Geno “mom” and they share a conversation of whispers. I listen. They laugh in tune with the music. Footsteps and the ground shakes as they move through it. One, two, three, one, two, three, count the footsteps. Laughter and the smell of mezcal.
A knock on the door. Geno’s soft footsteps move to the door. It creaks open. Heels on the wooden floor and a young voice. The music changes and she sings. Cristal crashes against each other as they yell “¡Salud!” in unison. The sweet scent of sugar reaches my nose.
A hand pulls me out of my seat and wraps itself around my waist. I lean my head into Leonel’s chest and listen for a heartbeat but there is none. I shed a tear. He holds my head on his chest as he dances with me.
The singers do come, but only share a shot of tequila before leaving again. Leonel, Geno and the young girl sing with them as they clink their cups. They scream in joy as crumbs fall over my legs. I smile through my tears.
Geno kisses my cheek and her footsteps head to the door. Leonel kisses my forehead and follows his mother out. The girl leans into my ear and whispers “thank you”. She too heads out.
There was a party in my house last night.
My grandfather came. I hadn’t seen him in years. I take his empty shot glass and coffee cup to the kitchen and rinse it off. My great grandmother came. I never did get to say goodbye. I scrub the red lipstick off her cup and place it in the sink. The girl who couldn’t stay with us past the age of eighteen came. She didn’t even leave crumbs. I guess she really liked that sweet bread. Even the ones I admired but never got to hear perform came. Just for a minute or two, they came. I take their dirty napkins and put in the trash.
The ones I miss and came back for one more night to enjoy with the living, simply living.