Esthie thought her race against time had ended after she found she was pregnant, but she finds herself under the gun again trying to make her small business profitable before she gives birth. Carrying a child has already changed her life, as the Center for Disease Control has restricted expectant mothers from traveling to her neighborhood, located just outside of Wynwood. The restrictions also ban travel to South Beach, where she teaches yoga. This has left her feeling rudderless once again. Esthie is now officially exiled at her sister’s house to avoid a mosquito bite that could potentially give her baby, now the size of a peach, birth defects as severe as microcephaly.
She is sitting on a barstool at the counter that divides the kitchen in Iso’s house from the dining room with her laptop open in front of her. Cyber Monday is around the corner and now that Esthie can’t make sales at the street fairs in Wynwood or Miami Beach, she has to make up for them with e-commerce. Her relationship with Dominick is back on track even though this virus outbreak has limited their time alone together. With her morning sickness finally getting better, she finally feels like she can put all of her focus on work.
“Can you at least help me with Nana’s Pecan Pie until Mom gets here?” Iso asks as she bastes the turkey in the oven. It’s midmorning and Ella Fitzgerald’s greatest hits are quietly playing from a bluetooth speaker that is hidden behind piles of ingredients on the kitchen counter. She has been up since before the sun preparing to play hostess to fifty of her and Xavier’ closest friends and family members under a tent in their backyard.
Thanksgiving is the only night of the year that Iso allows herself to forget about the baby weight and carb intake, so everything has to be delicious. She takes the preparations seriously, having taken over hosting duties from her mother after her parents moved away. She has added her own traditions over the years to honor the memory of family members they have lost. Her beloved Grandma Nora passed away just weeks before Iso would host her first Thanksgiving dinner, so she made her favorite pecan pie recipe to honor her memory at the table and has done it every year since. When Xavier’ Abuela Maria died the following year, her flan was added to the yearly menu.
“Okay, give me fifteen minutes and then I’ll stir something. I swear.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Iso says.
“I really hope this writeup in the paper helps with sales this weekend. I’m gonna lose my mind if I don’t figure out a way to make this business grow at the same pace as the baby.” After telling Dominick she was pregnant, they discussed the changes that would have to be made in their careers to cover all of the additional expenses that were adding up already in the form of insurance plan changes and medical bills. They decided to give their business ventures up to the end of the second trimester to cover their additional expenses. If either came up short, they would discuss taking higher paying, less fulfilling jobs to meet the financial needs of their young family.
“If not I think you would be an amazing elementary art teacher. You’re totally qualified and you can’t beat the schedule. Especially once the baby starts pre-k.”
Esthie gives her sister the side-eye. “Well, I’m hoping it won’t come to that, Sissy,” she says, annoyed by Iso’s lack of faith in her efforts.
“I know, I know. I’m just saying I think it would be perfect for you. By the time you’re in your third trimester you’re gonna want something lined up. Trust me,” Iso says as she prepares the bain-marie for the flan. “It feels a lot different.”
“Okay, spare me the gory details and I promise I’ll crack an egg.”
Iso rolls her eyes at Esthie just as Emmie storms into the kitchen with a brush and an orange ribbon for her hair. Xavier is running late for breakfast with his parents, who have flown in from New Jersey for the weekend. They have a tradition of breakfast and cafecito at a Cuban restaurant on Calle Ocho to hold them over until Thanksgiving dinner. Iso usually stays back to cook, letting her husband get the kids up and ready.
“Daddy’s a mess,” she says to her mother. Iso wipes her hands on her hips and kneels down to brush her hair out. Xavier is dressed in jeans and a red button shirt with Rudy in one arm and his smartphone in the other.
“You look beautiful, Princess,” Xavier says, trying to get his daughter in the car as quickly as possible. “Babe, I was supposed to be there ten minutes ago. We gotta go.”
Iso pulls her daughter’s curls through a hair tie and adds the orange ribbon, giving the baby a kiss as she sends them off through the garage door.
“Okay, don’t forget to bring your mom back here with you after breakfast. She’s gonna help me with the arrangements.”
Xavier gives her a thumbs up as the garage door slams shut behind him. Iso turns back to Esthie, who is looking at her sonogram with a hand over the small belly that is forming just below her belly button.
“This is happening,” she says, as if realizing it for the first time.