I had always loved the visits to my Aunt Esméralda’s Pinterest-consumed house, not just to try on her oversized floral dresses and stomp around her home in my tank top and polka dot rain boots like I was the queen of the world, but because she was Esmé. One day I went for a visit, face shining brightly as if my mother had just handed me a strawberry ice cream cone instead of a bottle of sunscreen. The air was so hot and so thick that it felt like a sticky two-hundred-degree blanket had been thrown over me. I dashed to Esmé’s house, “carefully” hopping over her blushed pink rose bushes and abundant carrot patches. Esmé opened the door, she waved to my mom and welcomed me into her mildly air-conditioned home. I slipped off my pink flamingo sandals and ran into the kitchen, comfortably planting myself on a tall wooden bar stool.
“What do you want to do today?” Esmé asked, staring down at me, her seven-year-old niece, as she pulls out a long, red, rectangular box, different than her usual brown cardboard box with a pink ribbon around it. One of the many things that I loved about Esmé was that she and I would almost always stuff our faces with buttery shortbread cookies. Today, however, was very different, my mouth opened in horror as out of the box came a plastic tray full of . . . sesame cookies. My face instantaneously turned from the shade of excitement to the shade of horror.
“You . . .” I started, “I can’t believe this,” I cried. Esmé laughed at me, probably thinking how adorable but ungrateful I was.
“Well sweetie, you know, Jeff.” I shuddered at the thought of Jeff, her boyfriend. “Well, he brought these to me right before you came,” she started, a full grin plastered on her tanned face.
“Why do you like him?” I asked peeking behind my tiny fingers that covered my flushed face.
Esmé sat on the stool next to me, “Well I love Jeff, and he’s an incredible person.”
“Well I don’t!” I spat, as I sprinted out of her netted glass doors, into her lawn and under her towering fig tree. She ran out after me, knowing exactly where I was going. She sat next to me on the rugged grass. I turned my back to her, a classic angry seven-year-old move. I started yanking daisies out of the grass and piercing the stems with my blue and pink painted thumbnails to make a flower crown. Esmé placed her hand on my back and attempted to rub it. I jerked away.
“I’m mad at you,” I declared, pouting at the ground.
“Let’s talk about it,” she said, picking me up and spinning me around.
“Hey,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest.
“Are you mad about Jeff, or the cookies?” she asked, knowing the answer.
“The cookies!” I snapped. Esmé sighed and stared at me, waiting for me to eventually break and spill out all my feelings—which almost always happened.
“Fine,” I said, extending my n for about two seconds. Esmé opened up her arms, and I crawled into her lap. As usual, she smelled like blueberries and brown sugar, with a hint of her jasmine shampoo.
“If you get married to Jeff, then I can’t come over to your house anymore,” I cried, my cheeks turning bright red, and my nose running.
“Oh Honey, I never said that,” she said, looking down at me, the tips of her hair touching my forehead.
“But you will,” I sobbed, “when my friend Nova’s uncle got married he had kids and practically forgot about her.”
Esmé gave me a sweet, sympathetic smile. “You know I could never replace you,” she reassured, looking down at me. I nodded my head but still didn’t like the idea of Jeff, who totally didn’t deserve my fabulous aunt.
“He’s not right for you,” I said, trying to do anything to persuade her to break up with Jeff before it was too late.
“Where did you hear that?” she asked.
“The Bachelor,” I responded.
Esmé’s eyes grew wide. “You watch that!?” she said.
“I don’t, but my mom does.”
Esmé breathed a sigh of relief.
“I didn’t tell you that I have a side job as a fortune teller. Did I?” I said mysteriously.
“Oh yeah?” Esmé said.
“The second graders, third graders, and my friends pay me in Jolly Ranchers. I do it every recess and I use the crystal ball that we got that one day . . .”
Esmé nods her head, “Oh yeah, the plastic one that we got in the one-dollar section of Target.”
“Yes, it’s filled with magic,” I declared, my smile growing wider and wider.
“Aaah, I see,” Esmé smiled, “Well it’s nice to know that you use it.”
“The magic of the crystal ball is coming to me,” I said as I rolled my eyes back into my head, crossing my legs and fluttering my arms in the air, actually believing that the crystal ball had mystical spirits. “They say—” I pause, “that Jeff will break up with you in two days. So you should do it before him.”
Present Day
Well, my magical crystal ball powers were a little bit, let’s just say, off. My friend Zoe’s stuffed panda Sam was never kidnapped by the tooth fairy, and my new Uncle Jeff was the right person for my Aunt Esmé, who I thought was too good for him and all guys. Over the past eight years, I have learned many things, like not to rely on any one-dollar plastic crystal ball that I got from the one-dollar section of Target to determine whether my Aunt and Uncle are right for each other and going to get married or not. I also learned that Jeff is a pretty good person and, after my Aunt gave birth to my cousin Luna, that she can have love for many people in different ways. Lastly I learned that I seriously need to cure my addiction to homemade buttery shortbread cookies, which I still may be working on.