Mexican Love by Michelle McEwen

Grandma Zabeth has border town blood— that’s what the kin say. I don’t know what a border town is so I don’t know what they mean. Once, I asked Aunt Jo what a border town was and she said it was a town close to the border. When I asked what a border was, she said it was the line between Texas and Mexico. When I asked what color the line was, auntie moaned— said if I shut up about border towns, she’d give me her tangerine incense. I used up that incense yesterday, so I’m back to asking about grandma’s border town blood. Today, Uncle El came over to sit on the porch with mama. When mama went inside, I asked Uncle El about grandma; he said she was brought up in a Texas border town. At eighteen, she could’ve left but she stayed and fell for this married man, Eli, from Mexico. “That Mexican love almost killed her,” he said. After Eli broke grandma’s heart, she chopped the Eli from her name— became Zabeth instead of Elizabeth; she didn’t want Eli at the beginning of her name anymore. I pictured Grandma setting her name on a workbench, bringing down an ax between the I and Z. Grandma wanted Eli’s babies but he had five with his wife and didn’t want more. Mama was back on the porch when Uncle El said this. “Why you tellin’ her that,” she said then swept me off the porch with her broom.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Mexican Love by Michelle McEwen

  1. Missy

    Zabeth — love the history behind the name!!! Love this story. You always pack so much detail in so little words –a whole world created with people that have backstories and lives! Love this!

  2. Everything fits together so well here; the staccato sentences that pace the history and urgency. Well done!

  3. Michelle, I’ve read many of your pieces now and you’re writing always reminds me of music. Nicely done. Again.

  4. Of course I mean “your” writing. Sheesh.

  5. And now I’m wondering who Grandpa really is. Nice voice and tone throughout. I could picture them all sitting there talking. :)

  6. Kelly

    read this and wanted to read more, sometimes this 250 word limit is hard to live with. nice.

  7. Thanks for reading and the comments everyone.

    Susan, I love your comment: “the staccato sentences that pace the history and urgency.” Thanks!

  8. shaneshane

    Love how it came to be this way

  9. “bringing down an ax between the I and Z” Loved the detail in this story and the questioning moving it along.

  10. To know one’s history, orally, through the family members is a poignant theme and I admire how you worked this week’s theme into your work. The details are so rich, her shortened name and why, the broom on the porch at the end and her voice worked in with one phrase.
    These do feel like characters I could sit with for a longer short story, if not even longer, should you decide to go for it.

  11. I am grooving on Zabeth and the rest of her kin. Great voice, and I could sit on the porch and listen to these stories for a good long spell. Peace…

  12. I feel myself at-home with this story. The voice is good. Love the family love-gone-wrong secrets that sooner or later come out, and the granddaughter’s questions – one after another until distacted by the tangerine insense… until the incense was gone, and then the granddaughter was back to the questions. And Uncle Ed spilling the beans. Feels authentic. Doris

  13. nice job, michelle. i liked the cadence and pull of the piece.

  14. Pingback: Week #37 – Border town | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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