Saturday, February 28, 2015

Life is so complex here!



I hurried through the door to go tell George and almost smashed right into him. He was already standing outside my door, just about to knock. With a big smile on his face, he asked, “Ready to go?”

“Ahhh …”

“Let’s go anyway,” he replied.

While walking beside him to the car, I had heart pounding thoughts about all the “what ifs” but, as soon as I started the car, I felt butterflies in my stomach. Sitting in the driver’s seat calmed me down every time.

I loved driving. It was the only time I felt in control. I found it strange that George didn’t have a car. I wondered, “Why would someone who was allowed to have a car not have one?” As I was driving, I asked him why he didn’t have a car and he said, “I can’t be bothered with cars. Keeping up the maintenance and insurance is way too expensive.”

“I have a Harley that I store at my buddy’s house and I’d much rather spend my time and money on her than a stupid car that breaks down all the time. Speaking of insurance, I’ve been meaning to ask you: Did your cousin tell you where to look for the insurance on this car? You might want to know in case you get pulled over.”

I thought, “What? He has a girlfriend named Harley? That almost sounds like Hilary and he stores her at his buddy’s house? I’m not sure how I feel about that. He must not understand how cars work because this one is not expensive at all. It still has gas in it from when Izaak left it here.”

I wasn’t sure what those big words meant but Izaak’s car drove just fine without any of what George was talking about.

I thought, “I’ll figure all this out another time. This is way too much for today and, next time, I won’t ask questions like that.”  

My heart started pounding again as I pulled up to a variety store that George told me to drive to. We walked in toward an ATM machine where a woman stood waiting for me and said, “Anna?” with a confused look on her face when she saw that George was with me.

She started talking to me, but I couldn’t understand a word she said. She had a really heavy accent. I took the envelope she handed to me and said, “Thank you.”

George gave her a strange look and said, “I trust that I won’t have to call you again about this.” He put his arm around my neck and said, “Let’s get out of here,” as he guided me out of the store.

He opened the driver’s side door for me and waited for me to get in so he could close it. As I sat there while he walked around to get in, I felt like I had just done something really bad. He looked over at me and realized that I needed a minute to process what just happened and asked, “Anna, are you okay?”

I giggled and said, “I think so, just give me a minute.”

I took a bit longer than a minute and thought of a time when I was fourteen. I was with my older sister, who was waiting for her boyfriend at the gate of our property line on a Sunday evening. The buggy arrived with her boyfriend and a bunch of guys that came along looking for girlfriends.

One of them came over to me, put his arm around my neck, and just assumed from that moment on that I was his girlfriend. He came to visit me every Sunday for a year and a half until I finally worked up the nerve to tell him not to come anymore.

He was a nice man, with a drinking habit like most of the men. He was about an inch shorter than me and I wasn’t done growing yet. It was a perfectly normal way this would happen in my colony. I just couldn’t accept him as my future husband. I told my friends that I was going to give him “kjeep”, which means breaking up with him.

My sister and all my friends advised me against it. They all said, “Why would you do that? You should be grateful that there is one that wants to marry you. What if you give him kjeep and you will be alone forever?”

Most of them were worried about that because no one had come for them yet.

I wasn’t attracted to him but that shouldn’t have mattered. Most of us didn’t even know what that was. There might have been a few lucky people that that happened to, but there wasn’t a lot of room for that when all we worried about was accepting the first guy that showed an interest in us. How would we ever know?

Sometimes, when I got to go to Patos (Mexican town) on a bus, I would see a Mexican couple that would be so passionately into each other. I often dreamed of it being like that for us Mennonites and wondered what it would be like.

It may have happened to some from the colony but you wouldn’t really know if it did because Mennonite couples wouldn’t show their affection for each other like the Mexicans did. The Mennonite passion was just different and I thought it was a bit one sided.    

But, then again, I had nerve problems and saw the world in a whole different way than most of my friends did. The topic would always end up with a conversation that would go like this: “This is who we are and how we do things. We can’t change it, so why even dream about it being different when we could never change it anyways?”  

I was worried and wondered what it meant in Canada when someone puts their arm around your neck. I was really hoping that it wouldn’t lead to an impossible decision making situation for me again.

I looked over at George and he sat there patiently as I was putting all my thoughts in order. We both looked back at the store and there were a bunch of people staring at us through the glass wall. I got really worried that someone may have recognised me and looked over at George and we both burst out laughing!

As he put his fingers through his hair and laughed, he said, “I think what she said was a load of crap. They just didn’t want to pay you and they didn’t expect anyone to stick up for you.”

“I’m glad you understood what she said because I have no idea. I didn’t understand a word. Thanks for doing this,” I told him.

“Don’t mention it, sweetie, it was my pleasure. I enjoyed that. Did you see the look on her face when she saw that I came with you? She almost fell over. She was probably thinking, ‘What the heck is this bad ass man doing with a Mennonite girl?’ But that’s okay. I am used to it.

Most people I meet assume I’m a bad ass because of my tattoos, long hair, and my vocabulary doesn’t help either! But, I don’t give a shit what people think of me. We can’t control what people think anyway. Okay, let’s go to your appointment and freak out some more people,” he said.

I drove to the clinic, parked the car and took off my seatbelt really slowly. My heart was beating so fast that I was starting to feel a bit lightheaded. I thought, “I’m not sure how much more of this I can handle.”

George went ahead of me so he could get the door for me.

We walked into the waiting area and I sat down. Then George sat down right beside me, so close that he almost touched me. I wished that he would sit across from me instead. Then, if someone saw me, they wouldn’t think he was my boyfriend.

George noticed how nervous I was when he saw that my knees were starting to shake. He said, “Anna, just take a few deep breaths and don’t worry so much. I’m sure there is nothing wrong with you. You have lived in a bubble until you came to Canada and now you are just experiencing so much all at once. I am sure that’s all it is.”


I thought, “A bubble? He obviously doesn’t know how big the colony is where I came from. It was not a bubble at all! There was so much land and big open spaces. You could see the mountains all the way to Santiago. And Santiago was so far away you could never go there with a horse and buggy and that is a lot bigger than a bubble, George! But I will just keep this to myself and let him think I lived in a bubble. If I try to explain it to him, he won’t get it anyways.”

The receptionist came over and said, “Anna, you never filled out your health history form. Maybe your friend can help you?”

“Okay.”  I replied.

I had tried to do it the last time I was there but I had no idea what to do with it and I couldn’t read any of it.

George took the papers and a pen and started asking me all kinds of questions. I had no idea what they meant. He began to explain each question in plain English and finally we were getting somewhere. George handed the papers back to me and showed me where I was to sign my name. I was so embarrassed and I hated it. I had only written my name a few times before that.

“Why do you have to sign your name so often in Canada?” I asked George.

He said, “Well, because it is a big part of life here in Canada and that is why everybody goes to school to learn all this. I don’t know how anybody survives, not knowing how to read and write. It is pretty much impossible here.”

I just sat there in silence for a while as I thought about what George said.

“I know this can’t be easy for you, but have you thought any more about going to school? You really need to go to school. Pretty much every place you go, you will need to know how to read and write,” he explained.

“Even if Hilary calls you to come back to work at the factory, there are no guarantees that you won’t get laid off again. It might be hard at first but it will get easier as you learn more about how things work here. This will never get easier for you if you don’t. It will only get harder. I guarantee it,” George said.

My head was spinning before but, after everything he said, it was really spinning now! The idea of going to school frightened me to death. My Low German thoughts were resisting the idea, but his point was starting to sink in deep.

I heard the door open, looked up, and saw a pregnant Low German lady with nine kids walking in. She looked right at me, then George, then me again, and looked down quickly before making eye contact with George.

I thought, “ha li dietschjott! (Holly crap!) Of course this would happen and I am an idiot for thinking that it wouldn’t!” Click here to continue reading my story.

Monday, February 23, 2015

New Emotions Wrestle Old Thoughts!


Continued from Bon Appetite, Mennonite!

George tried to explain what Bon appetit meant and I suggested that, with me, he stick to English only!

As I started eating, I noticed a watermelon seed in my bowl. I took it out and put it on my napkin as that had become a habit of mine. I still had major issues with those darn belly busting seeds. George noticed me setting the seed aside and said, “I must have missed some; it’s no big deal, I just eat them.”

I giggled and he asked, “What’s so funny?”

I told him that it was a long story and I would tell him another time. I took a few bites of the sandwich and ate a few pieces of watermelon. I tried to eat more but I just couldn’t. Too much had happened since my craving for komstborscht. I had lost my appetite again.

“Anna, you really need to eat more. You’re wasting away. I don’t know how a person can survive eating the way you do,” George said.

I told him about my komstborscht cravings and that I thought it was a good sign.

“Cabbage soup, that’s what you are craving. Tell me what ingredients you need and I will buy them for you.”

I told him that he didn’t have to do that.

“Yes, yes I do. I want to,” he said.

“Okay, next time I get a craving for it I will tell you.”

“Please do,” he replied.

While George took the dishes to the kitchen, I noticed his lizard was staring at me again. I thought, “Good thing lizards can’t speak. He knows about that movie I watched here a while ago, a movie that had situations in it that Mennonites were never supposed to see or know about.” I shook my head when I realised the thoughts I was having were about a lizard and thought, “Boy, my nerves are getting way out of control!”

George came back with a phone in his hand and said, “Here goes nothing,” and then dialed the number to the embroidery shop. He went into the kitchen. I couldn’t hear everything he was saying but I did hear a few “F” words and, “She will meet you there tomorrow then.”

George hung up the phone and said, “I hope you are not busy tomorrow because we are going to get you your money.”

I was actually busy the next day. I had an appointment at the walk-in clinic. They had some test results that would show if there was something seriously wrong with me.

I told George that I had an appointment and what time it was and, with a big smile on his face, he said, “Perfect, we can go to your appointment right after we get your money. I will just come with you.”

I didn’t know what to say. I really liked that idea because George might help me with all the paperwork that I never finished at the clinic. I thought, “If someone sees me with George at the clinic and recognises me, news like that would end up in Mexico before I get home!”

I sat down on the couch, crossed my legs, put one foot on each of my knees and rubbed them. They were hurting so badly I could have cried. George came over to the couch and puffed up a pillow behind me and said, “Why don’t you lie down and just rest for a while? I will put on a movie.”  

I slowly lay down but on pins and needles with my feet still crossed while he put the movie on. I thought, “I should go home now. What am I doing here?” He just pressed play and then his phone rang. He went into his bedroom to talk. I heard bits of the conversation and it was not good. He was arguing with someone and there were a lot of “F” words. I figured it was Bree.

I tried to watch the movie but I had to fight with all of my being not to fall asleep on his sofa. It was so comfortable. It felt like I was lying on a bed made of warmed up cotton that hugged and soothed every inch of my aching body. I gave in, stopped fighting against it, and just stretched my legs out, put my arms over my head, took a few deep breaths, and sank into the warmth.

He came back into the living room and, before I could even react, he was sitting beside me and my feet were touching him. He put the phone down and pulled his fingers through his hair and let out a big sigh and said, “Man, I don’t get her sometimes.”

All I could think of was, “How can I slowly pull my feet away so he won’t notice?” He told me how she was playing head games with him to make him jealous. Then, she would get all pissed off at him when it didn’t work because he didn’t really care what she was doing.

I understood about every other word and had no idea what to say to him. I just asked him if she was coming over and he said, “I f#cking hope not! I hate it when she is in this kind of mood. She just needs to get over it and move on.”

“How about we the movie? I’ll rewind it and we can watch it from the beginning. It’s supposed to be pretty funny. It’s called Kingpin,” George said.

He put his hand on my foot when he leaned over to grab the remote and I almost jumped out of my skin. I thought, “Anna, just get out of here!” But, my brain was alone on that one; my body didn’t think I should go. It was perfectly happy just like it was, lying there.

I thought, “Okay, he must have done that by accident.” I had never heard what George thought of us Mennonite people. All I knew was how he had been sticking up for me. Once, I overheard some of his buddies at the factory talking about how gross we Mennonites were. One of them said, “Especially the men! I mean, who touches these hairy women, let alone impregnates them, not once but up to twelve and fourteen times? Who are these sick people?”

I was reminded that I was one of these Mennonite women the man had talked about. When I finished that thought, I was ready to bolt out of there. I thought, “Okay, I’ll go right after he moves his hand off my foot. Then I’m out of here!”

He didn’t let go of my foot. As he put the remote down, he picked up my other foot, moved even closer to me, and put them on his lap. I thought, “Oh no! Okay, that wasn’t an accident. Oh no!” I tensed up even more than I already was. He looked over at me and said, “Okay, Anna! Relax! I am just going to rub the pain out of your feet, okay? You did wash them after you worked on the farm, didn’t you?”
  
I turned all red and covered my face with a pillow. He laughed and said, “I’m just kidding, okay? Now try to relax while I do this or it won’t work.”

Image

He started gently massaging my feet. I thought, “Okay, this is working.” I was feeling things I sure had never felt or knew of their existence!

That sure was the biggest fight I had had with my brain so far. My Low German thoughts were telling me, “This is wrong. Don’t enjoy it. Anna, go mol nu hus wot des du?” (“Anna go home already! What are you doing?”)

My body just sunk into his couch further and further. My feet weren’t going anywhere. I tried to steer my thoughts in a different direction. I thought, “Actually, this is kind of like going to a trajcht moaka (chiropractor) only a bit different. This one is so interesting, very attractive, clean, he smells amazing, and he has really clean white straight teeth.” I was wishing this would never end.

The movie was just background noise as I dozed off a few times. But, sadly, the movie ended. George had massaged my feet through the whole movie. I was embarrassed to look at him but I worked up the courage and there they were again, his perfect teeth smiling at me. I just smiled back a little, not enough to show my crooked teeth.  

“How was that? Do they still hurt,” he asked.

I just made a mumbling noise and giggled. I could barely speak. “Much better,” I mumbled. I tried to get up but I couldn’t. I was too snuggled in to the pillows. “Ahhh, I have to go now. I am so tired. I need to go to sleep,” I told him.

He got up, walked around the coffee table to me, grabbed my hand so I could pull myself up and said, “Is there anything else I can do for you? The night is still young.” I slowly walked around him to the door, grabbed my shoes, and ran home bare foot.

I brushed my teeth, looking in the mirror and wishing I could do something to get my teeth as straight as George’s.

I went to bed, said my prayer, and then I was wide awake. My bed was so uncomfortable and lumpy compared to George’s couch. I started thinking about everything: my day at the farm, the watermelon seeds, George making sandwiches, sitting on the floor while eating, George massaging my feet, and parts of the movie.

The part where Woody Harrelson thought he milked a cow and the Mennonite guy said, “What cow? There were no cows, just bulls!” That’s when I sort of got it, ran to the bathroom and threw up. I thought, “Is this why we are not supposed to watch movies? Could it be that we can’t handle it?”

I tossed and turned all night and, when morning finally arrived, I struggled getting up. I was so stiff I walked like a penguin. While getting dressed, I wished I had more clothes to choose from and wondered, “How could I do my hair so I would blend in a bit more so that people wouldn’t recognize me so easily?”

I thought long and hard about letting George come with me to my appointment and decided that it would be okay.

I debated, “What are the chances of me running into someone that will recognize me? I won’t have time to drop him off and I can’t just leave him there after helping me get my money.”

I decided that he would come along but the thought of what people might say about me in Mexico if anyone saw me with him scared me to death. Click here to continue reading my story.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Salsa Verde


Ingredients:

6 jalapeños
6 chilaca peppers
1 medium white onions
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro
1/4 cup of white vinegar
1 teaspoon of cumin 
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

I cut the seeds out of the chilaca peppers, but I leave the seeds in the jalapenos for more spice if you want less spice remove the seeds.

Place the peppers and onion in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Simmer until jalapenos soften and begin to lose their shine, about 8-10 minutes.


Take a bit of the water off the boiled peppers you don't want it to be too runny. Add garlic, cilantro, cumin, Salt & Pepper and white vinegar to the boiled peppers and onions in the same pot as you boil it, blend with a hand blender to desired consistency.


If the salsa is too thick to blend, just add some water from boiling the peppers back into the salsa mixture until you get the thickness you like. Hand blend until all of the ingredients are blended.


Boil blended salsa for an additional 5 minutes and pour into a jar and seal for keeping if you don’t plan on using it all within a week or so.

I use this salsa as burritos and enchiladas sauce. This salsa can be served cold or warm.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Knox küaken


Ingredients for the cookie dough:

1 cup of white cake mix                           
2 cups of sugar
4 cups of white flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
¾ cup of melted butter
1 cup of table cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 eggs

Directions:

Make a packet of knox following the directions on the box and set it in the fridge so it can chill while you bake the cookies. 


Mix all the dry ingredients then add the melted butter, cream, vanilla and eggs mix it all together.
  
Scoop dough in to baking sheet with a small ice cream scoop and bake at 350°F until golden brown.


Another favorite topping instead of the knox is peanut butter pudding:

Ingredients:

1 cup of milk
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 cup of peanut butter

Directions:

Beat egg into sugar before adding milk, cook for 10 min take off the burner and stir in the cup of peanut butter and it's ready to be spread on the cookies.


 Melt chocolate and dip in Knox or peanut butter topped cookies.


Other recommended topping for this cookie any colored icing.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Komstborscht & Tacos de res


Ingredients: 

Here is the Komstborscht recipe i craved so much while working on the tobacco field. 

Cabbage Soup:

2 lbs. soup bones, with lots of meat
2 large onions add one onion to the bones to boil and chop the other for the borscht
1 medium head cabbage, chopped fine
2 teaspoons salt
Fresh dill (a handful) 
2 cups diced tomatoes

Ingredients: 

Taco toppings:

Your choice:

Lime
Chopped cilantro
Diced onion 
Salsa Verde
Salsa Rojo
Guacamole

Directions: 

Cover soup bones with water and simmer until meat is tender (several hours or 30 minuets in a pressure cooker).

Remove the bone and beef. Add more water to make 8-10 cups of stock before adding the vegetables.


Add diced cabbage, onion, tomatoes and dill, cook until cabbage is tender.

Serve with a tablespoon of table cream. (optional)


Shred the beef to put into corn/flour i prefer corn tortillas, add fresh cilantro, lime, chopped onions and Salsa Verde, or your favorite salsa and or guacamole since you are your own boss ;-) and woahlah! you have just turned plain beef into (tacos de res = beef tacos).


Mmm Delicious, Delicioso, Scheen!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Tres leches cake



Ingredients for the cake:

1 cups all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
1 cups granulated sugar

The mix Ingredients for soaking the cake:

1 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 250 ml cup evaporated milk (not non-fat)
2 tablespoon dark rum extract

Choose your favorite flavour:

1 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk, Irish cream (baileys), hazelnut cream or Vanilla


Cake topping:

3 cups whipped cream

Your choose of 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut or toasted slivered almonds

Instructions:

Heat the oven to 325°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish with butter or line with parchment paper if you want to remove the cake from baking dish to a serving.

Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in the bowl add the sugar to the yolks whisk a handheld whisk until the mixture is pale yellow.


Place the egg whites in a mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip on high speed until medium peaks form, about 1 1/2 minutes.


Using a rubber spatula, stir the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Sprinkle the flour over the egg mixture and gently fold it in, just until there are no more white flour streaks. (Do not over mix.)


Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake until the cake is puffed and golden and the edges pull away from the sides of the pan, about 20 to 25 minutes.


Meanwhile, place the sweetened condensed, evaporated milk, the flavour you choose (makes the three milk) and the rum extract in a large bowl and whisk until combined; set aside.


Remove the cake from the oven and place it upside down on a wire cooling rack. Using a toothpick or wooden skewer, poke holes all over the cake and allow cooling for 15 minutes.

Put the cake into the serving dish or container if you are going to freeze it, pour the milk mixture evenly over the cake and continue cooling, about 45 minutes more. Tightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.


When the cake is ready to serve, spread the coconut or almonds in an even layer in a large frying pan. Toast over medium heat, stirring often until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Slice the cake and serve topped with a mound of whipped cream and a sprinkle of toasted coconut.


I often make this cake pour the milk mixture over it and freeze it. I take it out twenty minutes before I am ready to serve it. I put the whipped cream on just before serving it.

Mmm delicioso!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bon Appetit, Mennonite!



As I stood there watching these men pull the car out of the sand, I wished I could have made myself invisible before any of them turned around and looked at me. Instead, I just looked at my feet, said thank you, and slowly walked to the car. Before

I got in, I heard Frank say, “Anna, before you go, here is your cheque.” I turned around but I didn’t look up as he handed it to me and said, “You don’t need to come to work tomorrow. I will call you when I need you again.” I said, “Thank you,” and drove off.

I was so tempted to look in the rear view mirror but I thought, “No! Whatever they are doing now does not concern me. Just get off this field before I get stuck again.”

While driving home, I felt how tired I was. My feet were killing me. I hadn’t worked a long hard day like that since I picked apples in Mexico every fall. I tried to talk myself into just putting that day behind me and deciding to be happy. 

I thought, “I have a cheque that I earned myself so I will go straight to the bank and cash it. There is a grocery store right beside the bank. I will buy salsa and the ingredients I need to make Komstborscht (cabbage soup) for supper.” I was hoping that would make me feel better.

I drove to the bank happy yet so embarrassed about being all sandy from working all day. I didn’t have time to go home to shower and change. I was afraid that the bank would close and I really needed the money. On my way into the bank, I remembered I was supposed to keep the car running for a while. I hoped that it was long enough and that it would start again.

I was happy to see that there was still a long lineup at the bank. As I walked past the lineup, people were staring at me as usual. While I stood in the lineup, I looked at my cheque. It was a hundred dollars. I tried to figure out how much that would be in Mexican pesos but I couldn’t focus. My thoughts just kept going back to the tobacco field.

I looked around to see which teller I might get. There was one male and the rest were all female. I closed my eyes and wished really hard: “Please, please, let it be a woman that helps me.” I opened my eyes and there was no one left in front of me. I was afraid to look up but I did and, of course, the only sharply dressed, handsome man smiled and said, “What can I do for you today?”

On my way to him I was thinking, “oba nee oba nee oba nee.” I put the cheque on the desk and said, “Cash, please, and would you like to see my SIN card?”

With a confused look he said, “No, ma’am, just your bank card please.” He looked up something on the computer and sighed as he said, “I’m sorry, I can’t cash this cheque. There is a minimum of five business days hold on personal cheques. I can put it into your account and you can take the cash out in five days.”

As I felt my face turn white, it felt like my heart skipped a beat. I thought, “Oh, of course! I am not even going to ask him any more questions.” I just walked out of the bank, stripped of my happiness that had lasted a whole ten minutes and mourning the death of my komstborscht idea.

As I walked to the car, I thought to myself, “I bet that car won’t start and this is going to go on and on and on … grrrr … this really bites!” I felt so useless, hopeless, and as many words that ended in “less” as I could think of.

I thought, “I’m such an idiot!” I realised Frank gave me a personal cheque so I wouldn’t have to wait for payday and come back. I knew that was the end of that; he was never going to call me.

I leaned against the car and fought with all the strength I had left to stop it from happening, but it didn’t work. The tears just rolled down my face anyway. It was like I had no choice but to just let it happen right there in the bank parking lot. I wiped the tears off my cheek with my dress sleeve but, by doing that, I just added more sand to my face. I opened the car door, put the key in, turned it over, and it started!

I thought, “Ahhh, ok! But, now what?” I just sat there for a while and took a few deep breaths as I wiped even more sand on to my face. I thought, “Anna, the car started so just drive home! Anna, drive home!” As I was driving, I forced myself to focus on thinking about how nice a hot shower would be.

I tried to lift the box of fruits and vegetables but it didn’t even budge. There was no way I could carry that upstairs. I could barely walk. I was hoping that I wouldn’t run into George looking like that. I left everything in the car and went up to my apartment as fast as I could.

I got in the shower and as I watched the sand go down the drain and felt the hot water soothe my aching body, I realized that this wasn’t so bad. If I was still in Mexico, I would have had to pull the water up from the well, one bucket at a time, carry it inside and wait an hour for it to heat up on the stove top. Then, I’d pour it into a stainless-steel bath tub and wash really fast before the water got too cold.

As I washed my hair for the third time to get all the dirt out of it, I thought, “Hilary! I have gone almost a whole day without thinking about him.” I quickly got out of the shower and wrapped my hair up into a towel and thought, “Oh, how I longed to hear that deep voice of his saying, ‘Anna would you come and work for me again?’”

I rushed over to the phone to check my messages and there were five. I got all excited until I listened to them and not one of them was from Hilary. They were all from Mark again.

He was all upset again because I said I would go to the job finding club but I didn’t. He sounded mad but I thought, “He will get over it. I don’t need to let him know what I am doing every day.” His phone calls were starting to get really annoying.

I wrapped my wet hair up into a bun, got dressed, grabbed a few bags for the food and went down to the car. I tried to lift the box again but I still couldn’t even slide it an inch. As I shook my head in frustration, I looked up and saw George walking toward me.

He smiled and said, “It looks like you could use a hand carrying that up” and grabbed that box like it was nothing and carried it up for me.

He still walked beside me even while carrying a heavy box. I was walking really slowly and he asked if everything was okay. I told him that I was just really tired and that my feet were hurting really badly.

George put the box down on my kitchen counter and asked, “How was your first day working on the farm?”

I took a deep breath and sighed as I said, “I was hoping you wouldn’t ask.”

“Ahhh, shit, sorry too late, so just get it over with and tell me,” he said.

I explained how it went as good as possible, including how those half-naked men pulled the car out of the sand. He chuckled and said, “Oh, crap, what a disaster and you couldn’t even cash the cheque? Bad deal for you. You should have just started going to that school I told you about instead but, since you are your own boss, it’s your decision. Next time Bree has a farm job for you, just tell her no!”

He asked, “What about the embroidery shop; did they send you your cheque yet?”

“No, I haven’t heard anything at all from them.  I just had five messages from Mark again wondering where I was and what I was doing.”

He said, “You know, Anna, you should be careful with Mark. He is really starting to creep me out. A buddy of mine told me that he is seriously fu#ked up in his head and it sounds like he is obsessed with you.”

I told him I didn’t know what to say to Mark or how to make him stop calling me. George said he would help me figure something out.

He said, “You know, Anna, would you mind if I called the embroidery shop and asked them if they are going to pay you or what’s up with that?”

“You don’t have to.”

He said, “Yeah, I think someone has to do something about that. Have you eaten dinner yet?”

“No.”

“Why don’t you come to my apartment and I will make us something to eat and I will call them while you are there in case they want to talk to you,” he said.

He noticed my hesitation again to go to his place when no one else was going to be there and said, “I think someone has to step in and do something here and I don’t see anyone else offering, so why can’t it be me? Could you just trust me a little? I am just trying to help you out and make your shitty day a bit better.”

I thought, “Okay why not? After the day I’ve had, I could really use some company.” We took some fruit and walked to his apartment.

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I couldn’t help but stare at George as he was cutting the watermelon. It was so weird to see a man in the kitchen working, let alone a man with long hair and tattoos. Every time he looked up at me, he just smiled, showing his perfectly straight white teeth. I would quickly look down and pretend I was washing fruit. It felt good, strange, and wrong all at the same time.

While he made us sandwiches, I put the cut up watermelon into the bowls he set out for us. He said, “Let’s go eat in the living room.”

He put two perfectly puffed up pillows on the floor by each coffee table and sat down on one. I just did what he did. It was all so foreign to me. I thought, “Sitting on pillows on the floor to eat?” You couldn’t do that in our home in Mexico because those nice pillows would get all dusty.

I put my hands together and closed my eyes, bowed my head and said my prayer in my head. I just opened my eyes and peeked through my lashes at George to see what he was doing and he was just sitting there patiently with his legs crossed and his hands on his knees waiting for me with a big smile on his face. Then, he said, “Bon appetit!”

I looked up and asked, “What did you just call me?” Click here to continue reading my story.

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