Danielle: Studying Abroad

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The table was littered with empty Corona bottles as I danced to the pulsating music with the most gorgeous Mexican I’d ever seen. I had a beer in one hand and with the other I was touching his side. He was smiling big and we were just dancing and having fun.

“You are so hott,” I told him.

“I know,” he replied. At that point it seemed like everything was being sucked away and suddenly I realized it was just a dream. I sighed but smiled anyway. My eyes were still closed and I tried to go back to sleep but started feeling really uncomfortable for some reason. I shifted then peeled my eyes open only to find my step-brother over me grinning wildly.

“Holyshit,” I said, jumping up and putting my hand over my thumping heart. “Give me a heart attack why dontcha…”

He was still smirking and I idly wondered why he was in my room when it was still dark outside. “But I’m so hott I’d have given you a heart attack anyway,” he teased.

I blushed and chunked a pillow at him. “Leave me alone!” I whined.

He giggled and threw it back at me. “It’s 4:30 and our plane leaves in about two and a half hours. Which means you have, like, five minutes to get ready.”

“Ohmigod!” I yelped, jumping out of bed. “It’s Tuesday! We’re going to Mexico!” I danced around the room happily then hugged Carlos. “Yay! I’ll be ready really really soon!” I assured him, pushing him out of the room and blinding myself with the light. I’d lain out my clothes the night before (or a few hours ago, actually) so I scooped them into my arms and hopped into the shower. I washed off quickly then dressed myself and met my family in the kitchen in no time.

“That *was* quick,” Carlos said. “If only you were that fast every morning!”

“Shut up,” I muttered.

“Danielle, are you sure you want to go?” my mom asked for the thousandth time. “You could just stay a couple of weeks then transfer back here…”

“Mom, chill. I’ll be fine. And besides, I’ll have dear old Carlos and family around.” Of course, I knew her concern wasn’t my support system but rather that I’d be spending the entire semester in Mexico and she’d miss me terribly.

“You know if you get homesick you can just come home, right?”

“Yes, Mom, I know…” I groaned, rolling my eyes.

My mom opened her mouth to continue, but Juan, my step dad, stopped her. “She’ll be okay,” he assured.

“I know, I’ve just never been without her this long before,” mom replied, near tears.

“But you’re coming to visit. It’ll be fine, Mom.”

She smiled, wiped a tear away and sat a plate of eggs and bacon in front of me. “And listen to your brother while you’re there, okay? And Mr. and Mrs. Rivas. And don’t go out too much.”

“Mom, you’re freaking out. I’ll be fine…” I promised, eating my breakfast. Carlos just laughed at the whole situation and I wished that Juan would start giving him a hard time. After all, Carlos was the college student and would probably party more than me! (Yeah right..)

We finished breakfast then drove to the airport. On the way there we got another speech and Carlos and I acted ten years younger as we mimicked our parents. When we finally got there my mom was almost to tears. Carlos and I were so ecstatic that we just grabbed our luggage and headed inside. We said our last teary goodbyes, showed our IDs, then headed to our terminal. I was shaking with anxiety — I wasn’t a big fan of airplanes and I’d never been away from home for this long before. Although Carlos’s grandparents were as much family as anyone else that I’m actually related to. They’d kept in touch with Carlos and Juan after their daughter, Carlos’s mom, died, and had always been a big part of my life. So when Carlos decided to study abroad and stay with them, I looked into an exchange program, too, then practiced my Spanish as much as possible. And now the day was here — we were about to go to Guanajuato, Mexico, and we’d be gone from English-speakers and fast food for months… only not so much. There are so many Americanized cities in Mexico that I wasn’t even worried about being homesick.

The plane touched down about two hours after we’d taken off. I, for one, was ecstatic. I’d only visited the Rivas’s once at their house in Guanajuato and didn’t even get to stay very long. Not to mention there’s hardly any mountains remotely close to where I live so I was jumping in my seat and hitting Carlos. He was doing a really good job of pretending that he didn’t know me.

I followed my step-brother through the airport, mouth dropped, letting him do all of the work. I got stopped at customs and they started speaking to me so quickly that I didn’t understand what was going on. Luckily they had enough experience with Americans and pointed me to a table for someone to check my bags. I swore that I’d kill Carlos if he ever made me do anything like that again.

We took a taxi from the airport to his grandparents’ house. I was really nervous (as I had been with most drivers since I’d acquired my own license) but dealt okay. In no time we were in front of the house.

This’ll be my home for the next four months, I thought to myself as Carlos knocked on the gate. I clutched tightly onto my suitcases, heart pounding. Maybe this was a mistake.

Mrs. Rivas opened the door and upon seeing us, ran towards the gate. “Carlos! Daniela!” she shrieked, allowing our entry and kissing us both. I peered up at her two story house which was so awesome to me — I’d never lived in one before! She rushed us inside and called to her husband to help me with my things, all the while talking to Carlos so quickly that I could only understand bits and pieces.

I lugged my suitcases into my room. It was upstairs, at the end of the hallway and had a picture window facing the street. They let me have some time to rest up and unpack my things. I put away some clothes and put pictures around the room. I dug out the snack food that I’d smuggled in my suitcase. Then I plopped on my bed and stretched out, soaking everything in. Nope, coming here definitely wasn’t a mistake.

*****

Music blared in my room as I looked at the outfits laying in front of me.

“Danielle, hurry up,” Carlos called, rapping on the door.

We hadn’t even been in Mexico for a week and I was already going to a birthday party. It was one of Carlos’s 900 cousins that I hadn’t met who was turning 11, so it’d be nothing spectacular, but still fun. The only problem was that I had no idea what to wear.

I opened the door to find my brother standing irritably. I dragged him inside, wearing my pjs. “What should I wear?”

He laughed. “No one cares. It’s just a birthday party. You can wear that if you really want.”

“You’re absolutely no help,” I told him.

He rummaged through my clothes and found jeans and a T-shirt. “Wear this.”

“It’ll be okay?”

He nodded. “And don’t forget your swimsuit.” As he ruffled my hair and walked out, I realized how much closer we’d gotten since we’d crossed the border. Guanajuato was his hometown, at least it had been a place he’d lived for a long time as a kid, so he enjoyed taking me around and showing me different parts of the city. Not only that but since my Spanish was terrible, he had to help me out when everyone talked to me and had to teach me how to say important things. So in the five days we’d been there, we became more like good friends than brother and sister.

I slipped on the jeans and T-shirt over my swimsuit and pulled my hair back into a ponytail. I checked myself out in the mirror one last time, pleased with how I looked, then stalked downstairs where everyone was waiting for me.

Lista?  Ready?” Mrs. Rivas asked.

I nodded.

Vamonos! Let’s go!”

I followed them to the red car that waited in the driveway for us. Mr. Rivas drove, of course, and Carlos and I slipped in the backseat teasing and joking around with each other. He was almost a different person in Mexico. I could see the pride in his eyes for his country, even through the poverty and hardships. And he was so much more relaxed… less tense. Of course, everything in Mexico is so laid-back anyway, so that probably had a lot to do with it.

“So will they have a piñata and everything?” I asked, bouncing excitedly.

“Just wait and see.”

“But Carlos! You gotta tell me!”

He grinned. “You’ll see once we get there. Enjoy the anticipation. That’s half the fun.”

I pouted, but not for long. “So whose birthday is it?”

“Eduardo’s.”

“Like I know who that is.”

“It’s grandma’s sister’s grandson.”

“Right. So where’s the party at?”

“You ask too many questions,” was his answer and he turned away to look out the window.

“That’s okay, I didn’t wanna know anyway,” I said, looking out my own side. I’d walked around the city enough to recognize some landmarks, but most of the stuff seemed new and different. It was so weird actually going somewhere in a car.

Carlos talked to our grandparents for a little while and I didn’t pay enough attention to try to figure out what they were talking about. I just watched outside, observing and admiring the beauty. So much prettier than Texas… or the stereotypes of Mexico. Colorful houses were nestled in the mountains. The roads were narrow and winding, weaving through the mountains, high enough to see miles away. I painted the image in my head.

We pulled in front of a colonial-looking building. It was raining so grandpa dropped us off at the doorway and I followed grandma inside (she insisted that I call her that instead of señora Rivas). It was a clubhouse and the room was huge. There were tables set up on one side and a blow-up slide set up on the other. A woman greeted us, the Mexican way, with a handshake and kiss on the cheek. She was grandma’s sister. I was then introduced to tons of more people, none of whose names I would have remembered if you’d asked me later.

I whispered in Carlos’s ear, “are we going swimming?”

“Yeah, just wait a few minutes. Let’s say hi to everyone first.”

I almost told him that saying hi to everyone was one of the last things I wanted to do, but kept my mouth shut. This was his family, he hadn’t seen them in a while, he wanted to catch up. I can live with that.

After about 30 minutes of talking (well, I was just listening, still too self-conscious to talk), eating hot dogs, and watching kids almost plummet to a horrifying death from the top of the blow-up slide, my dream-guy walked in the door. He looked to be around my age, was wearing jeans and a decent button-down shirt, a pound of gel in his hair to keep it standing up. I was moving in on this guy.

I nudged Carlos. “Who’s that?”

He looked up. “Oh, that’s Edgar, another one of the cousins.”

“He’s close to my age,” I said.

“A bit older, but yeah, pretty close.”

He was greeting everyone at the table next to us and my heart almost stopped when he turned and smiled at me. Yay!

Hola,” he said to me after greeting all of his family at the other table.

I blushed and returned the salutation.

Carlos explained that I was his little sister and we were here to study a few months. He seemed impressed.

He got a hot dog then sat down at the conveniently empty seat next to me and we chatted for a while. It was a nice way to practice my Spanish, and nice for him to practice his English. He wanted to know about the U.S., which places I’d visited, how I liked Mexico so far, which school I was going to, etc. etc. etc. He offered to give me a tour of the city, show me the fun clubs and stuff (I had to ignore my brother’s evil glare when we talked about that) and help me learn more Spanish. I didn’t point out that Carlos could do all of that. I also didn’t realize that I was making an enemy — a girl across the room who’d been staring at us the whole time Edgar had been around.

Finally, one of the girls at my table wanted to go swimming so I offered to join her. Edgar declined due to his lack of swimsuit and I couldn’t convince him to just wear his clothes. He and Carlos did, however, decide they’d at least come outside and watch.

The pool was full of kids I didn’t know, but being the only American around, they flocked to me quickly. Valeria (my new friend) and I stripped down to our swimsuits as thousands of questions were fired at me. “Where are you from? What’s your name? How do you say my name in English?” Then they wanted to play a game with me and I noticed that everyone in the pool was crowded around me with the exception of two girls, maybe a year or two younger than me, glaring in my direction.

We agreed on Marco Polo, which was interesting enough to try and explain in Spanish. It was a lot of fun until I was the one running around like a maniac and suddenly felt myself being pushed in the water. After almost drowning, I looked to see the two girls laughing at me. “Oops!” one said. “Perdón! Sorry!”

The kids wanted to keep playing but I declined politely and joined Valeria. “Quienes son? Who are they?” I asked, nodding to the two girls who were now joining the game.

No las cognozco pero creo que son amigas de Miguel. I don’t know them but I think they’re Miguel’s friends.”

I didn’t tell her that I had no idea who Miguel was. “Creo que no les gusto. I don’t think they like me.”

She shrugged. “Es porque hablaste con Edgar, y él les gusta. It’s because you talked to Edgar. And they like him.”

Oh so that’s what it was — they had a crush on the guy who was talking to me. Jealous bitches.

Y tambien porque eres gringa y te dan mas atención que ellas. And also because you’re an American. You’re getting more attention than them.”

Oh? They want attention? I’ll show them attention. This is war.

We stayed to ourselves for a little while, occasionally talking to a passerby. A little girl wanted to throw around a little plastic ball with us so we did that.. then I had a grand idea… and “accidentally” threw it too far, whapping one of the bitches in the nose.

She yelped and held her nose, checking to see if it was bleeding. Valeria and I were snickering. “Oops… Perdón,” I said.

She checked her nose again then chunked the ball back at me, but I ducked in time. She was carrying on and on, yelling at me in Spanish like I could understand her.

I decided to take this time to test out some of the words I’d recently learned: “Callate, zorra,” I said, which is basically saying “shut up, slut.”

Her eyes widened and she lurched forward, knocking me backwards and under water. I brought her down with me and we wrestled until we needed a breath and noticed Carlos yelling at us. I’m not sure what he said beyond “stop,” but it was enough to get her to huff, splash water in my face and say in perfect English, “I’m not finished with you.”

Carlos gave me a look and said, “cool it.”

I shrugged him off and went back to Valeria to talk about the girl and ways to get her back. I should’ve done as my conscience suggested and just left her alone, but part of me knew that she was just waiting for a vulnerable moment to attack again.

After a few minutes of peacefulness, Carlos was back talking to some family and the girl grabbed her towel and flipflops to go inside. I noticed that she’d left her clothes next to the pool. Why give her the chance to attack me first?

I showed Valeria my plan and she stood on the lookout — any sign of Carlos or the bitch looking, just throw my shoe at me. That’d get my attention. I crept out of the pool and towards her stuff, sitting nearby on a chair Valeria gave me a thumbs-up from the pool and I grabbed the girl’s things and quickly slipped back into the pool, everything in my arms. The two of us giggled as I soaked her things. Have fun riding home in this!

We dispersed from the pile of clothes shortly after we were sure that they were good and wet. We should’ve gone inside, but we just had to see her reaction. So when she finally came outside, Valeria tapped me on the arm and we watched intently. She searched for her things like a mother hen who’d lost her egg. Giving up, she finally took off her shoes and towel and jumped in the pool. By this time Valeria and I were choking on laughter. The girl noticed this and looked around for what was so funny, finally seeing her clothes floating around. Needless to say, she wasn’t happy. She picked them up and threw them at me, cussing and crying like you wouldn’t believe. She then swam towards me to retrieve her clothes, promptly slapped me and left. I was stunned and embarrassed. To top it off, Carlos was standing right there and ordered me out of the pool. I promised Valeria that I’d be back soon.

My brother spared me any more embarrassment than necessary and ushered me to a secluded area.

“What did I tell you?” he asked.

“To cool it, but…”

“Leave her alone, Danielle. You’re acting like a seven year-old.”

“She started it.”

“I don’t care. I’m finishing it. Keep it up and I’ll spank you right here, and don’t think I won’t.”

He was glaring at me angrily, but I didn’t understand the big deal, especially when she was the one who pushed me first! And then she slapped me… the bitch. Besides, Carlos wouldn’t really spank me there — it was just an idle threat, right?

“Do you understand?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I murmured, then walked off.

It was bad enough that the girl slapped me, worse that Carlos lectured me, and even worse when I came back and the girls were mocking me. Valeria suggested we go back inside to avoid more conflict, but I wasn’t finished yet. I didn’t know what I’d do, but I knew it’d have to be worth it if Carlos decided to carry out his threat.

The girl and her friend eventually got tired of provoking me into another fight and stopped mocking me. And Carlos went back to talking to people. And Edgar disappeared. Valeria and I were just swimming around. She was still half-expecting me to do something, even though neither of us had a clue. Then the girl moved a perfect distance from the diving board. With a good enough jump, I could land right on top of her and could always use the excuse that I hadn’t seen her.

Valeria must’ve seen the look in my eyes. “Que pasa? What’s up?”

I held up my finger to tell her to wait a minute as I climbed out of the water.

Que estás haciendo? What are you doing?” she whispered.

Ya veras, you’ll see,” I replied, quietly climbing onto the diving board. I judged the distance from where I was to her. Perfect. Taking a deep breath, I braced myself, one hope, two hop, three — jump! I sailed through the air, everything in slow motion. I stretched out to do a belly flop and she looked up in horror, ducking just in time for my body to crash into hers. I heard everyone gasp right before I went under water. I was smiling when I came to the surface again.

Perdón, no te ví, Sorry, I didn’t see you,” I apologized.

Mentirosa! Liar!” she answered, pushing me.

Before I had the chance to push back, Carlos was there, like a coach on the sidelines at a football game. He was just waiting, not yelling or anything. I glanced in his direction then pushed her back. “Danielle!” he yelled.

She pushed me again and within minutes we were at it. We were pushing, wrestling, biting, pulling hair — you name it. People were yelling from all around, but it didn’t stop us. In fact, we’d have probably gone on forever had someone not pried us apart. I don’t know who it was, I couldn’t really see straight from all of the adrenaline, but he must’ve been strong because he handed me to Carlos who carried me kicking, struggling, and dripping wet to the bathroom.

“I don’t understand what your fascination with fighting is,” he said as I rubbed my face where I’d been hit a few times. He tried to lock the door, but it was broken. I’d figured he was just going to yell at me, but then he put the lid of the toilet down and sat, dragging me over.

“Wait… you’re not gonna…” I began and broke off.

“I told you I would, didn’t I?”

“But… the door isn’t locked!”

“I don’t care,” he replied and pushed me onto his lap, disregarding my bikini bottom immediately and smacking me hard.

I hadn’t expected it to hurt so much, but since I’d been swimming and my backside was wet, it stung like crazy! “Ow, Carlos! Wait!”

“Wait? You could’ve killed her! Broken her neck!” he fussed, spanking even harder.

“Owwies, it was an accident!”

“Accident my ass,” he responded, then “move your hands,” when I reached back.

“Please,” I begged, “not here,” not moving my hands.

He sighed exasperatedly and moved them for me. “I told you I’d spank you if you did anything else.”

“But not here,” I gasped, squirming like crazy over his lap. “People might listen!”

“Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is for me to have my little sister a guest at a party and still picking fights?”

I bit my lower lip to keep from yelping too loudly. “I knowww… I’m sorry!”

“I don’t believe you are,” he told me, moving down to my sitspots. I howled in pain, covering my mouth with my hands so if anyone was listening they wouldn’t get the satisfaction of knowing how much pain I was in.

I don’t know how long he kept up, just that it hurt so much he restrained one hand while I bit my other hand. And I was kicking furiously. When he stopped I breathed a sigh of relief.

“We’ll talk about this when we get home,” he assurred me, pulling my bottoms back up and lifting me.

I wiped the tears away from my still crying eyes and gave him a hug. I then washed my face and turned around, looking at my bottom in the mirror. This set me off crying again. As if it wasn’t bad enough I’d gotten spanked, everyone could see it, too!

“Carlos, please don’t make me go back like this. Please bring me my towel,” I begged.

He shook his head. “Nope. That’s part of the punishment. Besides, look at me.”

I glanced over and noticed that his pants were covered in water — it looked like he hadn’t made it to the bathroom in time. I giggled.

“At least you can use the hand dryer,” I offered.

“And I’m wearing my swimsuit. But I also didn’t do anything punishable like you, kid sis.”

I pouted.

He took off his jeans to reveal the swimsuit underneath then stuck them under the dryer. I leaned against the cool sink trying to let it ease my throbbing bottom.

“I didn’t want to hurt her,” I told him.

He looked back. “I know, but you could have done some pretty bad damage. Besides, it’s just the fact that you were acting like a kid and kept on after I warned you. You know that’s not the right way to act, much less at a party that you were invited to by someone you don’t even know. What kind of impression do you think that gives them about us? About Americans?”

I nodded. “You’re right. Wish I would’ve thought about that.”

He took his jeans out from under the dryer and inspected. They were dry enough for him ’cause he slipped them back on. I glanced at my bottom again and arranged my swimsuit so you couldn’t see as much red. It didn’t look as bad.

The two of us walked out together and I was triple self-conscious wanting to cover my bottom but not wanting people to wonder why I was doing it. So I just hurried over to my towel thankful that the girl hadn’t thrown my clothes into the water. I put my clothes on over my swimsuit and went inside where they were about to get ready for the piñata. At least Edgar had been inside during the fight.

We sat at a different table this time. I eased gently onto the chair while Carlos introduced me to those I hadn’t met.

Vas a estudiar? Are you here to study?” one lady asked, then went on to explain she was hosting a student from Japan. As if she’d known we were talking about her, the student suddenly appeared at my side, hotdog in hand. I knew instantly that I was going to like her — she just had those vibes. She plopped down next to me as everyone explained that I was an exchange student, too. Then we figured out we were going to go to the same school.

Y como te llamas? So what’s your name?” I eventually asked.

“Emi. Y tu?”

“Daniela. Y hablas inglés?”

“No,” she answered, then began laughing which made me laugh because she was so funny.

*****

We sat there and watched the festivities. The kids whacked the crap out of the piñata until it finally burst open and everyone ran to collect the candy and toys. Emi and I had been eyeing the cake for quite sometime and after the piñata they sang and passed out pieces. It was delicious.

Finally, it was time to go.

Que vas hacer esta noche? What are you going to do tonight?” Emi asked as Carlos and I stood.

Nada.”

Entonces, voy a ir al cine si quieres ir conmigo. So, I’m going to go to the movie if you want to go with me.”

I grinned. “Si, claro,” I replied, giving her my number. Carlos had disappeared so I wasn’t sure if I could actually go or not, but I didn’t bother trying to explain that to her. I just waved goodbye and met my family at the car.

“That was fun,” I told my brother. “How come we never have anything like that for you?”

“Because I’m not 11.”

“Doesn’t mean you can’t have a piñata. I want one for my birthday.”

He gave me a look as if I were too old for one.

“And Edgar was gorgeous.”

This time he rolled his eyes before saying, “you’re such a girl.”

“I know. Isn’t it lovely?”

He smiled but didn’t answer.

I watched out the window, still shifting on my aching bottom and replaying the day’s events in my head. All of the people I’d met — family, Edgar, the bitchy girl, Valeria, and Emi — the cultural festivities… and my stupid self getting into a fight. Oh well, at least I hadn’t said the forbidden phrase which Carlos had made me promise not to say unless I wanted to be slapped… and I didn’t.

“Hey Carlos… am I still in trouble?” I asked suddenly.

He glanced at me. “Do you think you should be?”

“I really hate that question.”

He gave a slight smile. “Well, have you learned your lesson about fighting?”

“Yes! Definitely. I never want to be spanked in public again.”

“Then I guess you’re not in trouble. Why do you ask?”

“Because Emi asked if I wanted to go see a movie tonight.”

He shrugged. “I suppose that’s okay. As long as you don’t stay out too late.”

“Me? Stay out late? I wouldn’t dare think of such a thing!”

I was relieved knowing that I wasn’t getting seconds and skipped into the house shortly after pulling into the driveway. I was excited… it’d been a fairly good day so far and I’d met a new friend which was ultra-spiffy. Sure, Carlos was okay to hang out with, but he was my brother. Of course it got old after a while.

I took a quick nap only to be interrupted by the phone being shoved on my ear and Carlos telling me I had a phone call. It was Emi. The conversation was mildly interesting because I was dead asleep and neither of us has perfected our Spanish. Finally I realized the movie was at 8:30 and I’d never heard of it before. We decided to meet downtown in front of a church. Spectacular.

I pushed myself out of bed and took a shower. I had to pretty myself up in case there was some gorgeous guys that wanted to pick up an American. I sat down for an early dinner with Carlos (because it was about 7:30 and we usually ate at 8:30…) whom I promised I’d be home by midnight. He didn’t go for that and we finally compromised with 11:30… just in case the movie was longer, or she wanted to get ice cream afterwards, or I got lost on the way home.

Then I said, “why don’t you go out tonight? There’s plenty of bars, huh? And you can get in? You can call a cousin or something.”

He shrugged. “I was thinking about it.”

“I’ll go with you.”

“I don’t think you want to do that. You know how over-protective I can get.”

“This is true…”

“But one day we’ll go out. Whenever you’re more confident with your Spanish.”

I nodded wondering when that would be. “Or since you’re over-protective, maybe I can go with Emi.”

“We’ll see. But not tonight.”

Damn. Oh well, it was a good try.

I finished up my quesadilla and put the plate in the sink. “Hasta luego, bro.”

“See ya. No later than 11:30…”

“Right-O,” I answered already walking outside. I threw my purse over my shoulder. It had two things I couldn’t live without: a camera and umbrella. Ever tried walking 30 minutes in pouring rain? It’s not pleasant. And it had rained almost every night since my arrival.

Emi was at the church as promised, on time by Mexican standards, about ten minutes late by American. Of course, I, too, had become accustomed to arriving late, so it was no problem. We made small talk on our way up the mountain to the theater. We saw “Just My Luck” which was dubbed but fairly easy to understand because the plot was so predictable. I made a mental note to check it out again once I got home.

When we got out of the theater, Emi asked me if I wanted to go to a bar.

Carlos had said not tonight and I couldn’t help but remember how I ran into him last time I did something like that, so I almost said no. Almost.

Si, pero tengo que ir a casa a las 11. Yes, but I have to go home at 11.”

She nodded and dragged me to a bar called “Bar Ocho.” It was pretty small, but had three floors. We went to the second and smushed ourselves into a tiny table on the side. The room wasn’t so crowded, but very smokey and loud. A waitress came by and we both ordered a beer. No IDs checked. I was in Heaven!

We had two beers each and chatted about our hometowns, what things we missed and what things we didn’t. I learned that the drinking age in Japan is 20. We taught each other cuss words. It was fantastic. When I looked at my watch and saw it was only 11, I decided to get a third beer. I knew it would take at least 15 minutes to get home, probably closer to 25. But I wasn’t concerned. More than likely because of the two beers I had drank.

Emi and I talked about school starting the following Monday. We were in the same level of Spanish and would be taking most of the same classes. Our grammar and conversation class were at the university, but the rest of our classes were at the prepatoria school. We were both taking history and art, but she was taking literature while I was in psychology. We both hoped for good-looking guys, but didn’t hold our breath.

When we finally paid our bill, it was 11:30. I was going to be late, but Carlos would live with it. There were tons of people out and I contemplated going to one of the clubs with booming techno, but now wasn’t the time to push my luck.

Emi’s house wasn’t too far from mnie. It was cool, not having to walk home alone the whole way.

I glanced at my watch a last time when I arrived in front of my house. It was closer to midnight than 11:30. Oops. I slowly inserted my key into the gate, idly wnodering if everyone was asleep. I could pass for being a little tipsy and didn’t want anyone to know. No such luck… Carlos was downstairs in the kitchen watching tv and peeked his head out of the door when I walked in.

Just stay in there… I silently begged.

“I know you know you’re past curfew but I’m sure you have a great excuse,” he said, getting up and walking towards me.

Great… I knew I couldn’t pull this one off. “Um… I’m in Mexico? That’s my excuse?”

He shook his head. “What did I tell you about going to bars?”

“I didn’t go…”

“I said, what did I tell you about going to bars?” he repeated.

“Not tonight,” I said.

“Exactly. And I know that’s where you were because you reek of cigarette smoke and I can smell the beer on your breath.”

I decided not to argue this point.

“I know you’re going to do this nightlife while you’re here… that’s a given. But I don’t appreciate you doing something after I specifically said not to. Much less joining that with coming in 30 minutes late.” He paused, clearly angered. I still didn’t say anything, remembering how only hours earlier I’d been spanked. “Are you going for two spankings in two days? Is that it?”

“No,” I answered.

“Well you’re certainly getting it, Young Lady. First thing tomorrow morning.”

I winced, reaching back to rub my bottom. “But, Carlos…”

“Don’t argue. Just go to bed.”

I hung my head like a pouting puppy and walked past my brother up the stairs, half-expecting him to swat me one on the way.

The next morning I woke with drool dripping down my face and the sound of cars and buses out my window. I groaned when I saw it was only nine. There must’ve been about thirty loud buses that had passed in the last ten minutes. I gave up all hopes on ever going back to sleep and rolled out of bed. Then I remembered that I was going to get spanked and almost crawled back into bed.

Everyone else in the house seemed surprised to see me emerging so early. Grandma and Carlos were both in the kitchen chatting and watching tv. Upon my arrival, Grandma grabbed a chair and dragged me to it and set the placemat and silverware.

“Aye, you’re up early,” she said then went to cooking something.

“The buses are really loud,” I answered.

She and Carlos both laughed. I took this as my chance to persuade my brother not to spank me.

“Carlos… look… I’m sorry about last night,” I stammered uncomfortably. I expected him to say something, but he didn’t. I wasn’t sure if he wanted me to continue. I took my chances anyway: “It’s just that Emi wanted to go to this bar and it was on our way home and I figured that she’d just get a drink then we’d go and I didn’t think it’d be a problem.” I paused and he still didn’t say anything. “I was just curious, that’s all. I wanted to see what it was like.” Was I digging myself into a hole?

Finally he said something. “It’s not the fact that you went that bothers me, just that you did so after I told you not to. And you came home late. You’ll be here four months, you can wait until your Spanish gets better before you barhop. You can wait until you know the city a little better before you go roaming around in the middle of the night.”

I nodded as grandma asked Carlos what was going on. He explained my coming in late, omitting the part about the bar and drinking which I was pleased about.

I thumped my foot nervously, heart pounding as I prepared myself to ask the question that would seal my fate. Grandma was now responding to what Carlos had said but I wasn’t quite sure what she was saying. I couldn’t tell if she was on my side or his.

Finally they stopped talking when she handed me breakfast. “Carlos… are you still going to spank me?” I asked shivering then quickly taking a bite of my eggs. I could hear grandma putting tortillas in the microwave. Carlos was thinking. Was this a good sign? On the tv a commercial for toothbrushes filled my head. Please say no, I silently begged.

He sighed. My foot was still thumping. “I would really consider not spanking you, but seeing as you deliberately disobeyed me twice yesterday, I’m sensing a pattern and it’s time to break it.”

There it was. My fate was sealed. I was getting it.

“When I tell you not to do something it’s not just to hear myself talk, Danielle. It’s for a reason. And if you choose not to listen, you’ll just have to accept the consequences.”

Grandma placed the tortillas next to me. I’d stopped eating momentarily to stare at my brother, but quickly began eating again at the sight of warm tortillas. I loaded them with beans and eggs, eagerly stuffing the food into my mouth. When I’d told my mom about this breakfast combination she didn’t think it sounded very appetizing. But it was delicious. And at that moment it was helping me keep my mind off of the punishment.

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