When Mom came back from the kitchen, she brought out three huge platters, each one with a rounded covering it. “Now, which one of you wants to see what I made first?” Mom asked.
“Me!” Tristan yelled before I could open my mouth. Jeez, he was hungry. Mom lifted the bowl slowly and aromatic smells filled the house and I shoved my face towards the plate. There was a green sauce in a teeny little bowl and a plate of really thin rice that was tinged orange with juicy meat on top. It was what Tristan had at Haabil on his first date. “I looked at a recipe online and I tried to do everything well enough. The raita wasn’t the easiest thing in the world and I messed it up a little bit, but I hope it’s okay,” Mom said, scrunching up just in case he didn’t like it.
There was a tear rolling down his face and he hugged her so tight, she was turning red. Once Tristan got off of her, she went to my plate and, before she took off the bowl, she said, “I wanna see you with a husband one day. You’re already 28 and I’m 53. Not forcing you… Just a suggestion. Also, get a better job than Subway. I know you want to become an engineer!” She left it there and I groaned. I didn’t like any of the guys I met. All of them were jerks, socially and financially unstable, or just didn’t know how to get girls. I also couldn’t get any jobs near me, since it was overpopulated, making it very competitive in the job market. I just asked Mom, “We can talk about this later. First comes food!” She sighed and lifted the bowl right as I closed my eyes.
A rich aroma wafted through the air and I opened it as soon as it drifted into my nose. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a bowl of thick noodles with broth, vegetables and meat swimming on top. I love udon! On the sides were six dumplings, each steaming hot, along with wooden chopsticks at the side. “The dumplings and the broth were both really difficult and the broth is a bit thick, but it should still taste good,” she responded to my face, looking mainly at my wide eyes and my mouth, which was gaping open. I wondered how the meal was so hot before remembering the beeping of the microwave before. I also noticed a small package on the side, but I didn’t know what it was, so I left it. I hugged Mom pretty hard but not half as hard as Tristan. I then asked, “What about yours?”
“Oh, mines isn’t too special,” Mom responded, looking like she was suppressing and hiding something, so I lifted it myself, somewhat shocking her. It was just a box, a plain white box. I was utterly bewildered and I opened the cold box. It was a cake! It was mirror glazed blue and it said ‘Happy Birthday’ on it. Now, I was really confused.
“Do you know what day it is, Tristan?” Mom asked all of a sudden.
“I don’t know… Why?” Tristan looked just as puzzled as me, if not more. Then, it hit me. It was the 3rd of October. Mahala’s birthday. I blurted out, “It’s October the 3rd!” Tristan tilted his neck towards me and before I knew it, I saw his eyes watering before he started crying again. He hugged Mom again, just this time, he was literally strangling her in the process. I was surprised to see her just take it and she said, “The cake’s waiting.” I couldn’t help but cut myself a slice. I tried it and I was overjoyed that it was a strawberry cake on the inside and I put half of the slice in my mouth. Tristan and Mom laughed and Tristan said, “We haven’t even eaten the other food!” I looked at the other plate longingly and then at the cake. I blew a kiss to a cake and whispered, “I’ll be back for you. Oh, I will be back.” I got the chopsticks and grabbed the biggest amount of noodles and stuffed most of it into my mouth. I instantly regretted it.
The noodles were so hot, my mouth was burning once they touched my tongue and the heat intensified the spiciness by too much and when I swallowed, I had to run to the kitchen, obviously looking like an idiot, and grabbing two bottles of water. I chugged one of them and tried to calm myself down. I took deep breaths and tried to ignore the laughing, almost crying, behind me. I walked over back to the table as civilized as I could (not the most civilized thing in the world, but good enough) and I sat down, still red from the heat. Once the heat left my mouth, Tristan and Mom were still crying with laughter and Mom almost fell on the floor. I was utterly embarrassed and I hid it as well as I could. I slurped an average amount of noodles (which was a big mouthful for everyone else) and sighed happily. The heat wasn’t half as intense anymore and the spiciness had backed off. I got a dumpling and bit off half of it. It was made out of beef and veggies and was flavored in such an original way that I knew it had to be my mom’s potstickers. They were succulent and rich and nothing overpowered anything else. I took a bite out of the meat and I figured out that it was pork belly by the end of eating the first slice. I looked over at Tristan and smiled. He was savoring his biryani and slowly eating each piece. I then looked over to Mom and noticed she wasn’t eating anything, so I asked, “Where’s your food?”
“Oh, right!” she exclaimed, “It’s still in the fridge, so I better warm it up!” Mom looked like she didn’t care about the food, like it was last priority at this point, but she was probably really hungry. I looked back at my udon and I ate it happily and ended up stuffing a bunch into my mouth each time until all that was left was broth and that, too, was over before I knew it and I burped contently. I looked at the cake longingly through my peripheral vision, but I knew that I should wait until everyone else was done, so I leaned back onto the couch and closed my eyes. There were lots of thoughts in my mind, and although more than half of them were about food, there were a lot about Tristan. What if he gets hurt again? How will we find the assailant? Did something happen to him at the hospital? I pushed them aside for now and murmured to myself, “Only happy thoughts right now, Jenna, only happy thoughts.” I saw Mom come in with her food about a minute later and I was surprised at the simpleness of the dish she was carrying. Well, I was wrong. In her hand was spaghetti and at the side of it was meatballs covered in a chunky tomato sauce. Then, she went back and got a huge loaf of bread? Why bread? She went back and got herself a grater and a block of cheese and I got hungry again. “Can we have a little bit of that?” I asked, Tristan nodding after.
“What, you thought I was going to eat this alone? Ha! You guys are funny! I was only gonna eat the spaghetti and a slice of garlic bread!” Mom exclaimed. I laughed to myself and sliced three pieces for each of us and I grated off a bit of the cheese on mine. I bit a hunk out and my eyes widened. It was so good! I gorged everything else into my mouth and sighed. Well, you could call it a sigh, but it really sounded like a choking tiger. Tristan asked me to slice him a piece of cheese and I happily did so. Mom watched us and wanly smiled. When we were done, we all started for the bedrooms. I helped Tristan limp over to his room and got him his clothes and asked him, “You can put it on yourself, right?”
“Yeah, sure. You just go to sleep,” he responded. I waved him good night and went to my room. When I got there, I went to the bathroom connected to my room and brushed my teeth. Once I finished that, I walked back into my room and stared at the cozy little place again. It was pink and sky blue with posters of my drawings from 4th and 5th grade. I had posters of the Beatles, too! The bed was small and had Disney princesses covering it, mainly Cinderella and Belle. I jumped on it face-flat and got my phone out of my pocket. It rang all of a sudden and I picked it up. “Detective Collins. Sorry I’m calling so much,” the authoritative detective said.
“Oh, it’s fine. Did you find anything good?” I asked in my nicest tone available.
“Yes, actually. Ask Tristan if the man was younger or older than him.” I shrugged and went to Tristan’s room and asked, “Hey, Tristan can I ask you a question?”
“Um… Sure?” he said, unsure of my tone.
“The guy, was he older than you or younger than you?”
“I only remember his eyes. I think he was about my age though. His eyes were blue.”
“Did you hear that, Detective?” I asked.
“I’m getting men with blue eyes that are under 300 pounds but over 210 pounds that might be in the range of 25 to 33. Since I think he lives around here, I’m going to just put in that he’s from either Manhattan, New York City, and Long Island,” he paused for a moment and tapped on the desk, before saying, “Okay, I’ve got 374 matches. Does Tristan know what skin color the assailant is?”
“Do you know what race they were?” I asked Tristan before turning on speaker.
“Oh, he was white,” Tristan responded back.
“Okay, tell your brother thank you for me. We’ve gotten it down to 249 people,” Detective Collins said.
“Your welcome,” Tristan said back. Collins hung up and we fist bumped each other. I went back to my room and turned off the lights and jumped onto my bed. I wasn’t too tired, since it was only 9:30, so I just laid on my bed. I thought about happy thoughts and almost all happy thoughts. Until the one that attacked me right before I fell asleep: What if Tristan is attacked again and this time, I can’t save him?