Tuesday, July 31, 2012

HornedToad by River Jordan

As a surprise, we were staying at my gramma’s house in McAllen, Texas, for the summer.  We drove all day yesterday and were so tired we went straight to sleep and slept all night until the next morning.   
It felt strange waking up and not knowing where I was.  I looked around and saw mom and Darla in the same bed with me and I felt comfortable enough to sit up and look around.  Then I remembered we were at Gramma’s house and I smiled. 
The spicy scent of chorizo and eggs wafted in from the kitchen and my stomach made a growling noise.  I could hear Gramma singing in the kitchen while she cooked.  Scooching down I slipped off of the foot of the bed so I wouldn’t wake Darla and mom.  After brushing my teeth, I wandered into the kitchen, knowing it would just be the two of us. 
“Buenas dias, nina!” She hugged and kissed me like she always does, squeezing me tight.   
“Buenas dias, Abuelita!  Mmmm it smells so good!” I said as my stomach growled.  I sat down at the table and Gramma served me a plate of warm chorizo and eggs along with a flour tortilla.  It was smaller than she normally made them, special just for me. 
Grampa slammed the back door as he walked in the kitchen, grabbing his cup of coffee before sitting across from me.  Leaning down, he looked me in the eyes and said, “Daisy, we been seein’ a lotta horned toads.” 
“Grampa! May I have one, please?” I was used to asking for pets and he was used to me asking for them.  He said yes and of course I gave him a big hug.  He sat me on his lap and brought my plate over to eat on his lap.  “Grampa, I’m too heavy!”  
“Well, you are the baby of the family…” he smiled down at me.  I waited, knowing what he was going to say,   “…baby elephant!”   
I didn’t particularly like being treated like a baby, but as long as Darla wasn’t awake to witness it, I was okay.   
Making fast work of my breakfast that was so delicious, I hugged Gramma, “Thanks Gramma, that was the best breakfast ever!” 
“Mija, you don’t need to say that,” she laughed, “I’ll be cooking all weekend.” 
“I can’t wait for lunch already!”  
Later that day, my cousins Delilah and Beverly came over with my aunt and uncle.  I was outside trying to catch horned toads since Gramps said I could have one for a pet.  Mom had said no, but Grampa over rode her decision since it was his house.   
We ran around playing freeze tag for a while but it was already extremely hot and it wasn’t even lunch time yet.  We sat under the Mimosa tree for shade to cool off.  We were laughing and going on about this and that when out of the corner of my eye I saw a horned toad. 
“Hey,” I said, “I’m gonna catch me a horned toad!”  Delilah and Beverly both exclaimed happily.  
“Go slow, Daisy, don’t scare it off.” 
I crouched down low and duck walked toward the bush the toad was cooling itself under.  With horned toads you had to go slow so they won’t spit in your eye.  I had never been spit in my eye and I didn’t want to. 
“Come on little toad, don’t you wanna be my pet?” I whispered.  “You’ll have all the crickets you want to eat, so be good and let me catch you.” 
When I was within a couple feet of the toad, I pounced on it.  Screeching with joy I lifted the handful of toad into the air.   
“All right Daisy!” 
“Hurry, let’s find a box!” 
Delilah and Beverly were both as happy as I was.  “Grampa, Grampa!” I yelled. “I got one, I got me a horny toad pet!” Grampa came out with a shoe box and helped me get him in there.  He poked some holes in the lid so the toad would have air to breathe.   
We all took turns looking into the holes at the toad.  “What are you going to name it?” Delilah asked me. 
“I’m going to name it…Star!”  We all giggled about that.  The last time Grampa gave me a kitten I named it Star too. 
We decided to take a ride on our bikes.  I placed Star’s shoebox in the basket of my bike and we went down the road on our bikes.  We stopped when we saw that the cactus had some prickly pears on them. 
“I’m gonna have me one of them prickly pears!” I said.  “I’m nine years old now.” I said, as if that gave me the right to eat a prickly pear.
“No Daisy, Gramma says not to eat them if she’s not here.” They tried to warn me but also they were excited, too.  Feeling like they could do it too without permission, they grabbed one each.
We grabbed the prickly pears, careful to not touch the invisible prickles and peeled them casually as I’d seen Darla do many times, to eat the yummy fruit.
They went along cautiously peeling the prickly.  I’d already finished my fruit, before they even took the first bite.
Not satisfied with just one, I took the last one on the bush, feeling very much like an almost “tweenager”.
In the first, big, happy bite, I immediately cried out because I’d missed a prickly and it stuck horribly in my tongue.
“Ahhhh!”  Tears streamed down my face at the sharp pain in my tongue. 
“Oh, no Daisy, I told you to be careful!”  They both threw down their fruit as if it were on fire, faces filled with concern.
“Come on!  Let’s go home! Gramma will know what to do.” They got on their bikes and motioned for me to do the same.
I slowly got on my bike, making sure Star was in the basket and not falling out.
Delilah and Beverly couldn’t help but laugh as I rode along, tears streaming down my face, tongue lolling out of my mouth.  I wanted to laugh too, but it hurt too much!
Well, Gramma saved the day by running a gentle fingertip along my too dry tongue and finding the teeny little thorn.  She took a pair of tweezers and gently pulled it out!
That night I slept with Star’s box, not able to enjoy gramma’s lunch or supper, but happily snuggling with my new pet!  The End

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