Chana grinned, holding the fish up for inspection. It wasn’t the most impressive of sizes, but it was an actual fish. One that she’d caught. Finally. She raced back home. It was late, but hopefully Arturo wasn’t awake and she could get this thing on the grill and surprise him.
Things were really looking up these days. Ever since Arturo had proposed, it felt as if nothing could go wrong. She’d found a place willing to sell her fruits and flowers at the farmer’s market. Slowly but surely her garden was starting to produce a bounty. It had started so small, the plants struggling to make a space for themselves in this grassy field, much like she and Arturo had.
But from such humble beginning, legacies are made. She thought. Now each plant was vibrant reminder of how far they’d come. They had a roof and a bed, and her garden was improving every day. And now they were going to have fish for breakfast instead of yogurt or cereal. Arturo emerged from their house just as she was about to light the fire.
“Morning,” he said with a yawn, blinking sleep out of his eyes. She rose and gave him a kiss.
“Mmmm.” Was his articulate response and he pulled her closer. Chana laughed and broke away.
“Not if we’re going to have breakfast”
“Oh, let me do that,” he said and Chana handed him the matched. “Ouch!”
“It’s just a little burn,” he assured her. She took the matches away and shooed him to the chair.
“Sit, sit, I’ll do it. You’re still half-asleep!”
“Why are you making a fire anyway.”
“I caught a fish!” She announced and flipped open to the cooler to show him her prize.
“Ah.” He eyed the fish warily. “That’s great.”
“You don’t like fish?” She hadn’t expected that. Wait – didn’t he order fish and chips at the bar all the time?
“It’s not that.” He swallowed carefully and closed the cooler lid hiding the fish. “I just…I’ll just wait for it to finish cooking.”
She shook her head as he quickly left the fire and headed back inside. Moments later she could hear him on the bed playing the guitar.
Oh well. Once the fire was ready, she speared the fish and set about roasting it just as her father had showed her back when they went on vacation to Granite Falls. She’d make sure to remove the head for him.
Arturo tried to convince himself he wasn’t hiding from the fish. But, he still felt a little queasy from seeing those dead fish eyes staring back at him so suddenly. Not the best way to wake a body up.
He settled onto the bed and pulled out his guitar, trying to concentrate on the cords and ignore the fish cooking outside. Tonight Blind Ginger was recording their new song, Llama Knights, and he was going to play with them. They were down a member when their guitarist had up and left for Newcrest to follow the love of her life and they’d asked him to fill her shoes at least for their recording. If it went well, it could be a more permanent position. He dozed a little waiting to hear from Chana. He stirred at her call and headed outside again.
Arturo was glad to see the fish had been filleted, descaled, and most importantly deheaded. He took a small bit tentatively. It tasted good enough.
Chana ate her meal with gusto. Obviously not caring that the creature had been alive not an hour before. “I’m going into town this afternoon. I’ve got some fresh cuttings to sell.”
“Oh,” Arturo perked up. “I’ll come too, I don’t work till this evening. Do you think the market tips well?”
“Probably. Bella said she’d drop by as well. Maybe buy a bouquet for the nursery.”
“When’s she due?”
“Any day now.” Chana smiled. Bella had been thrilled to announce her pregnancy at last. She and Hayden had been wanted kids for quite some time.
The market proved profitable for both of them. Arturo found a shady spot out of the sun and lured folks to him. Playing songs on demand until Bella and Chana came to collect him. Their selling and shopping completed. He shouldered his guitar and stepped into the sun grateful for its warmth. They wandered through the park, Chana peppering Bella with questions about her pregnancy. Arturo was happy just to walk alongside them.
Arturo tried to add up his savings. It was close. The ring had put him back a little, but it had been worth it to surprise Chana that way. What he really wanted now was a wedding, but they were expensive, and he should concentrate on saving for a house. They couldn’t live in a falling-down shack forever. He should check with work and see if there were extra shifts he could take. A little overtime wouldn’t kill him.
“Oooh! Arturo, they’re kicking!” Chana squealed pulling him from his daydreaming. He was surprised to see they’d wandered to the Hedgehog Cafe without him noticing. But he moved forward and joined Chana looking up at Bella wide-eyed and the little foot gave his hand a solid thunk.
“Wow, they’re strong.”
“Eternally,” Bella sighed, “I’ll be happy when they’re out. They make sleep almost impossible these days. Ah, excuse me a moment,” she said and waddled off upstaris the public restrooms.
Arturo sat down next to Chana with his own sigh. They watched the pedestrians wanted past the waterfront in silence. Chana slipped her hand in his and gave it a squeeze. He smiled and squeezed back looking over at her.
The worries started to pile in. How long would she be satisfied in the tiny shack he’d cobbled together? What if she got tired of him and left? … He shook off the negative thoughts with some effort and focused on the positive. She was here beside him now. Really, how had he gotten so lucky? All too soon, it was time to leave for work.
They stood up. Arturo swayed.
“You okay?” Bella asked as she steadied him with her hand.
“Yeah, just a bit dizzy, probably stood up too fast.” He kissed Chana and gave Bella a big hug. “See, all better. You two take care.” He grinned. “And don’t go plotting too much, it’s bad for the babies.”
The two women tried to look innocent and failed. He wasn’t sure what they were plotting, but they were plotting something.
His head ached. It felt like it was stuffed with … with… his mind was thick to think of a good comparison. Something awful. He tried to stifle a groan. He couldn’t get sick. Not now. Not when he needed to be at work every hour. The lights were blinding him and he felt chilled and clammy despite how hot he knew it had to be under the lights. He could not get sick. This was his big break.
“Arturo, man, you okay?” The drummer leaned over his set.
Arutro straightened and nodded he gripped his guitar tightly. He was not getting sick.
Chana had caught two fish for dinner that evening and smoked them both over the fire. Bella had lent her some spices to help flavor them and she’d bought some lettuce at the market. Combined with some tomatoes from her garden she was pleased with the meal she’d come up with. She hummed as she mixed the salad. She wasn’t sure of her dressing, but hoped Arturo would like it.
Her stomach growled, but she ignored it. Soon enough Arturo would be home and they could eat together. Perhaps not a proper table, like, but a proper meal that wasn’t yogurt or take out. A main dish AND a side dish. It was like they were adults already.
Her favorite time of day was when he got home from work, no matter how late it was. They would relax by the fire and he would tell her amusing stories about work. Sometimes he’d play her a song he was working on or they’d just hold hand and stare at the stars. Usually that led to other things though. She grinned at the memories.
A car door slammed and Chana hurried outside, she stopped short as Arturo emerged from the taxi. Swirls! He had swirls all over his face. She was by his side immediately.
“Oh, Arty,” she tugged him towards their house, taking the guitar case from him before it fell from his fingers.
“I’m okay,” he protested, but it was obviously a lie. His eyes were too bright, his skin was beyond pale. Chana tucked him into bed despite his protests. They were halfhearted protests at best. Once she was certain he wasn’t going anywhere she left the room and called Bella.
“Yes, orange ones, and he’s feverish.”
“Probably Llama flu. He wasn’t vaccinated, was he?”
“No, we didn’t have the money. Bella, what do I do?”
“Don’t worry, he’ll probably be better in the morning, he just pushed himself too hard. Llama flu isn’t fatal – you hardly know you have it unless you ignore it.”
“Which he did.”
“I thought he looked off this afternoon.”
“Oh!” Chana realized that Bella wasn’t the only one they were with that afternoon. “The babies, will they be okay?”
“Yes,” Bella laughed. And then stopped abruptly. “Ah, they’re not too fond of laughing. No, they’ll be fine unless I get the flu and I can’t since I was properly vaccinated this year.”
“Will he be okay by this weekend?”
“If he rests properly. Swirls will probably scare him enough to do. If he does rest, he’ll be right as rain in a couple days. No need to cancel or anything.”
Author’s Note: I really don’t have much to say about this one. Except Arturo came down with swirls, so I figured I could use that. Bella married Hayden Olvera very early on in the game. So early that I don’t know her maiden name. I shall pretend they were married from the beginning. I’m using the MC Commander Mod which adds story progression to my townies. It’s really fun watching them pair up and actually have children. So yes, Bella is pregnant all on her own.