To read my intro to Kiki go here.
“YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!” “LET’S GO!”
Kiki Littles was shoved from a rather pleasant dream involving a seven floor mall and a limitless credit card she would never have to pay the bill for, by the sound of her clock radio blaring the latest from Usher and Lil Jon.
She blew a thick lock of black hair out of her brown eyes and reached out to slap the alarm off.
She groaned and dropped her face back onto her pillow. School. Wasn’t it enough that it was boring and long and hard? Did it they have to add to the torture by making it so early?
There was a series of light knocks without rhythm on her bedroom door before opening.
“Time for school!” Giovanna announced, all smiles and corduroy and pigtails.
Kiki groaned again, not lifting her head as she waved to her little sister. “Thanks, Gi.” She knew the four year old had been up for hours and Kiki wished she had her energy.
“Mama said don’t let you sleep or breakfast will be cold and ruined.”
“Okay,” was all Kiki could manage.
“It’s arroz con huevos.”
“Yum,” Kiki mumbled, drifting off.
“Are you gonna get up?”
“Mm . . .”
Giovanna sighed and walked out.
And instead, her 12 year old brother walked in.
With an air horn.
The loud noise jolted Kiki from her covers with a shriek. “Miguel!”
He grinned and smugly pushed a hand through his collar length black hair. “Hey, you had a chance to wake up the nice way with Giovanna.”
She growled in frustration, but before she could respond, she heard her mother calling up in rapid-fire Spanish, the gist of it being that Miguel was in trouble for having that air horn, Kiki was in trouble for not getting out of bed, and she didn’t make this breakfast for no one to eat it.
Kiki groaned a final time and got out of bed, waving her siblings out of the room along with her.
In the hall, she paused by a long mirror on the wall and tried to finger comb her black hair so it resembled something passable. Two summers ago, she had chopped all of her long hair off to her chin. She had loved swishing her hand through it, how much lighter and cooler it felt, how the blunt cut made her look a mix of chic, sassy, and adorable.
Two months later, she was sick of it.
However, it had taken her and additional three months to admit that, hanging onto the look, dutifully going to the salon every couple of weeks to keep it clipped in shape. And then one day, she just canceled her appointment.
Now it was exactly where she wanted it, a few inches past her shoulders with a bit of layer to give it some dimension.
Of course, her current bedhead gave it a little too much dimension and her fingers weren’t doing much to help. She blew out through her lips as she gave up and traveled downstairs to find the delicious smelling breakfast.
“There you are,” her mother huffed as soon as Kiki entered the kitchen. She began herding her toward the table, already laid out with her breakfast. “Eat and then get ready for school.”
Miguel nodded, waving his fork in his mother’s direction. “Very insightful plan, Mama. Well thought out. It’s like Kiki’s been doing it since kindergarten or something.”
Mama scowled. “Silencio, hijo.” She shook her head, causing her short, raven ponytail to quiver. “Always so much trouble . . .”
Kiki smirked, already spearing at an egg with her fork. “We should send him back to the pack of wild dogs you and Dad adopted him from.”
Giovanna giggled around a mouthful of rice.
“Kikita,” Mama scolded before going on how such lies were bad example for her sister. But Kiki could see her trying not to smile.
Miguel scowled. “Just for that . . .” He pushed his plate away. “I’m having Lucky Charms instead.”
Kiki’s eyebrows raised. Giovanna froze, spoon halfway to her mouth. Kiki chanced a look at her mother, whose eyes had gone ablaze.
“Here it comes,” Kiki sang under her breath.
And boy, did it. Quick, angry Spanish filled the kitchen, mostly about how she never heard anything so ridiculous and who would pass up a hot and delicious breakfast for over sweetened cardboard bits and Styrofoam and Miguel was so ungrateful because when she was a little girl in Juarez, she didn’t have it so good and fine, what did she care what he ate because she just wouldn’t bother anymore.
Kiki tuned her out somewhere in there. Her mother prided herself on her cooking and carefully planned and prepared all the Littles’ family meals. She made a lot of traditional dishes from Mexico, where she was born and lived until she had married Kiki’s father, but she enjoyed cooking anything, from Italian pasta to American burgers, Chinese noodles to French cuisine Kiki couldn’t even pronounce. And all of it tasted delicious.
As her mother well knew and being passed over for processed, packaged food would not be tolerated and was the best way to rile her up.
Which Miguel knew. There was the faintest bit of accomplishment on his face.
Finally, her mother’s tirade paused. There was only a beat before Giovanna asked, “Can I have his eggs?”
“Sorry, babydoll,” a new voice chimed in as it entered the kitchen. Dad straightened his tie, his black hair still damp from his morning shower. “Miguel’s going to eat the wonderful breakfast his mother made for him. Everyone’s going to finish up and go to school. And Mama’s going to calm down and know her silly son was just joking.” He drew Mama’s face toward his and kissed her cheek.
Kiki’s mother did visibly calm down, but Kiki also knew she wasn’t ready to admit that Dad’s relaxed demeanor always did the trick. Instead, she headed toward the sink. Muttering to herself.
Kiki wondered sometimes if that’s what drew her parents together. She knew the story of how her American-born father was visiting his extended family in Mexico and how his cousins took him to a party and that’s where he had met her mother and they spent the rest of the night dancing, even though he wasn’t very good. But she wondered if her mother felt the residual peace her dad seemed to always carry with him, or her dad thought her mother’s take charge attitude and excitable spirit was a fun change of pace from his chilled out vibe. Or were these traits they discovered about the other further on down the road? She wondered when they had really known they were in love.
Because she had known right away.