Henry held tightly to Diego's hand, and seeing his mother's tentacle twitching against the broken table, the kitchen a mess, Andre's celebratory meal destroyed, shaking his hands, he cried, "Mother, how could you?"
"Ouch! Let go of my hand, Henry!" Diego said, pulling away from Henry. Next to her, Winifred stared at her grandmother's large tentacle which now stretched across the kitchen leaving cups, plates, appliances, and chairs overturned in its wake.
At once Clarissa's voice buzzed across the room: "How could I what, Henry?" And then she buzz-hiccupped, and began to giggle.
Henry stared at Diego. Diego stared at Winifred. Winifred stared at Maria. Maria stared at Andre. And Andre stared at Shakespeare who stared at no one but he snapped, "Uh oh, looks like someone's gotten into the cooking sherry."
"What is that cute little man saying, Henry?" Clarissa buzz-gurgled.
"Oh no, you're drunk, Mother!"
"No, Henry, I'm plastered, and at my size, that's a whole lotta plastered."
Suddenly, Andre shook his fists in the air at the torn ceiling above Clarissa's tentacle, "I have had enough! I really have -- you, you irresponsible giant, have destroyed my celebration and ruined my special meal. You have wrecked my kitchen, and you have interrupted my song."
Tears began to roll down Andre's eyes.
Then Maria, who could not believe Andre was challenging Clarissa, froze for several moments before she ran over to Andre and covered his mouth with her bracelet laden wrists. "Have you lost your mind? She will have you for dinner, you crazy gringo!"
That's when Clarissa's head swooped down through the ceiling and she giggled, "Oh don't worry, Maria, I think he's just adorable when he gets angry. Yoo-hoo, Andre lay it on Mama."
Shakespeare, who just could not take any more, toppled over and laughed hysterically.
Maria, still stunned, repeated Clarissa's words as a question, staring at the ceiling as if she had just seen Martians crawling through the vents. "Lay it on mama? Lay it on mama? Where does a two thousand-pound insect pick up such language?"
"You know, Henry?" Diego breathed, gazing at Henry, "I'm starting to like your mother."
"I'm not even sure she is my mother," Henry said, his eyes crossed, his wing fluttering strangely.
"Oh, that is grandma for sure, Daddy," Winifred said looking at her father as if he was the only reliable thing in her world. Henry knew that look. He didn't want to let her down, so he remained stoic as he could when inside what he really wanted to do was laugh like a loon just like his mother.
Then Andre, still unfazed, continued his tirade, shaking his hands, yelling at Clarissa, "I don't care how drunk you are, Clarissa what you did tonight was unconscionable!"
Clarissa's voice buzzed, "Was what, darling?"
That was it for Shakespeare. "Oh my God, did she just call him darling? Tell me I didn't hear that."
And Maria, who was riffling through the broken dishes on the floor looking for a bracelet that had just fallen off her wrist cried, "You heard that right, shrimp boy. Clarissa called Andre darling."
"This is too much for even me," Diego breathed, staring at Henry, who was staring at his mother in awe.
Clarissa's voice beamed, "Why is everyone staring at Mama? Please sit down, dears, I have things to say, stories to tell, memories to share."
Andre shook his head, sighed and said, "It is going to be one long night."
The light, dim because of Clarissa's entrance, gave a strange glow to the room. Clarissa's black eyes took on a radiant amber-like quality that Henry could spot when her head dipped through the boken ceiling. Plaster still occasionally fell to the floor, causing Shakespeare to flinch.
Her head dipped again and she buzzed, "My dear staff, my children and grandchildren, and my lovely daughter-in-law." She buzz-hiccupped and then she continued, "I heard you all talking about memories before; you my dear son and the song Andre sang to you when you arrived. And I got to thinking, after downing several gallons of Drambuie, what are we but our memories, the stories we tell, the songs we sing?"
"Oh brother," Maria sighed.
"What was that, Maria?"
"Oh nothing, my dear, dear lady, I just had a kernel of corn stuck in my tooth. All gone now, please continue, por favor."
"More like a fart stuck in her brain," Shakespeare snapped under his breath.
Clarissa buzz-giggled. Her head swooped back up the ceiling. "Well, darlings, like I was saying, what are we but our memories, and I have some memories to share with you."
Then, suddenly, her tentacle, still resting on the broken table, began to stir and slither, and a soothing daydream-like melody filled the room. From the ceiling, where Clarissa had burst through, a drop, like a ball of light slowly drifted down and stopped in mid-air right before Henry's eyes.
All turned their heads to see a tiny bug fluttering inside the ball of light.
And she buzzed, "Remember him, Henry. It's your Uncle Morty."
Henry squinted, and squinted, while Andre cried, "He is so tiny, who can tell?"
Then she buzzed, "Well, our relations were all regular insects, they did not undergo the treatments Henry or I did, so yes, they are small."
Winifred raised her little hands and said, "This is the most magical thing I have ever seen."
And Shakespeare interjected, pulling himself up from the floor, "So what's wrong with small?"
Henry, who was still squinting at the ball of light with the tiny bug in it said, "You know, I think I can make out the gleam in his eyes. Yup, that's Morty all right."
Maria cried, "You are all insane!"
Then another little ball of light fell, and another and another, all containing small insectual family relations, causing Henry, Winifred and Diego to ooh and ahh, and making Andre and Maria grow more impatient -- until a much larger ball of light suddenly began to drift through the ceiling.
At once, Clarissa buzzed, "Now here is a memory for all of you."
To be continued ...