A few weeks ago I began using the Words for Wednesday Challenge from Delores at Under the Porch Light to create a story, The Papalo Cure. Readers commented, requesting to know what happened to Grandpa after Maria got on the bus to South Dakota. I didn't know! The plot of this story is being directed by the weekly Words for Wednesday word prompt!
Using the prompts, I have been adding to the story - and even I am surprised by the turns it has taken.
This week’s chapter can be read without background information, but I recommend reading the proceeding parts of this series first. Start with Part 1: Facing Insurmountable Odds. A link for each previous chapter is on my FICTION page. This week's challenge words are listed at the end of this chapter and highlighted in bold in the story.
As the plane took off, Maria settled back into her seat and exhaled slowly. Turning to Mateo, she said, “It was so nice of you to pay for our plane tickets to Mexico. This is much more comfortable than the bus ride I just took!”
“I really want to get this whole mess straightened out. A bus would not get us there quickly enough. Maria – I am sorry I judged you so badly. I should never have jumped to such nasty conclusions about you. Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I have looked up to you. I should have known you would never double-cross our grandparents.”
“It’s okay, Mateo,” Maria said. “We all owe you an apology for doubting your mental stability! The rift between us the past few years has bothered me. I hope we never let that happen again. By the way – what is up with you and Cynthia? Is there a romantic interest there?”
“Cynthia – what? NO! She is just a detective I hired – not my type at all! But she was helpful in finding out about the oil company wanting to buy the farm. Her investigative skills are so good, she seems practically clairvoyant!”
“I can’t believe all that was happening right under my nose. The story is so fragmented, I am still having trouble putting it all together,” said Maria.
‘Maybe it would help to go over it all again, and be sure we both have drawn the same conclusions,” said Mateo. “Tell me everything you know.”
“Whew – okay. But where to start - -,” Maria closed her eyes and gathered her thoughts. Then she spoke, uninterrupted by Mateo until she finished.
“Grandma suggested to Grandpa about a year ago, that they return to Mexico for a visit. He exploded, and told her he never wanted her to return, as long as Pablo was alive. Pablo had been Grandma’s childhood sweetheart, but their parents had refused to let them marry, because of a feud between the two families. To separate them, Grandma had been sent to college in South Dakota.
"While in college, she met Grandpa. His family was from Mexico, but he had been born in the US and lived there his whole life. When Grandma graduated, they got married and settled in South Dakota.
"They did return to Mexico when our mother was small, and lived on the farm for about a decade. Grandpa found life there too mundane, and he was very unhappy. They returned to South Dakota. Even though they both knew they would never return to Mexico, Grandma insisted they keep the farm. It had been in her family for many generations, and she didn’t want to be the one to let it go. It never caused a financial hardship, thanks to the rent money it has generated over the years and the success of the gravel company our grandparents own. Grandma was so happy when I moved to Mexico and became the tenant, because someone from our family is finally living there again.
"Last year Grandpa accused Grandma of wanting to rekindle her romance with Pablo, but she insists they no longer have feelings for each other. She decided a visit to Mexico was not worth upsetting Grandpa, so she did not push to make the trip. His accusation seemed odd to her at the time - now she thinks it was just a ruse to keep her from going to Mexico. She thinks he was concerned that she would find out about the oil company’s interest in the property from people in the village, if she went back.
"Grandma told me she is even wondering if Grandpa was asking for papalo just so I would not be in Mexico to meddle with the deal. She said it was very uncharacteristic of him to believe in herbal remedies.
“But Mateo, this is where I get lost?” Marie continued, “Why was Grandpa trying to sell the farm without Grandma knowing? Why now – after all these years? I really wish Grandpa had not been so out of it from surgery, before we left – so we could have confronted him about all of this.”
“I have a guess,” said Mateo. "I overheard our grandparents arguing last year – and it was about a gambling addiction. I think Grandpa may owe more money than he can pay back. He knows Grandma would never agree to sell the farm, but once the deal was made, there would be nothing she could do about it. The huge price offered by an oil company would cover his debts."
“Thank goodness that Cynthia found out about the meeting, between the oil company representative and our grandparent’s financial adviser in Mexico tomorrow,” said Maria. “We can represent Grandma and inform the company they are wasting their time. They will all get quite a surprise when we inform them the deed is in Grandma’s name, not Grandpa’s – and that she is adamantly against this sale. I’m not sure how he planned to close the deal without her signature on the final documents anyway.”
“That still confuses me, too. I am also worried about how Grandpa will pay off his debts, if this deal does not go through,” said Mateo.
"Something still just doesn’t add up. I think there is more to this story that we haven’t uncovered yet,” Maria said.
“Hopefully the answer lies in Mexico, and we will figure it out,” said Mateo. The plane had begun its final descent. They both shed their sweaters, in anticipation of the blistering heat they would encounter, when they stepped off the plane.
This story is totally fictitious and may not contain accurate factual information. I had never even heard of papalo, until I did an Internet search for “indigenous plants of Mexico.”
The Words for Wednesday Challenge supplied the following word prompts:
fragmented, gravel, blistering, mundane, clairvoyant, and grasshopper.
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