A/N: This was originally going to be in Spanish. But eh, I don't know just how many people would read 'Amor Sin Barreras' stories… So let's pretend Maria and Bernardo are speaking Spanish to each other. I'm basing this story off my great grandparents' house right outside of San Juan, which is the capitol of Puerto Rico, where your bathwater smells of the sea and you can buy guava that stimulates every single one of your senses right on the street, ready to eat. Enjoy!
"Wake up, 'Nardo!" Maria shook her drowsy brother, who turned away from her.
"No, Mai…" He mumbled.
She sighed and rolled back on her knees. Her lazy brother needed to get up off the couch. Didn't he ever sleep at night? Maria mused, staring at her brother on the broken-in and well-loved couch that once belonged to her grandparents. He shoved his head under a pillow that read, "La vida es chévere… Para siempre." and left his nose in the cushion. Maria loved the scent it carried. Whenever you stuck your nose in the pillows, you'd smell the rich spices of Adobo and the sweet twist of Abuela's tostones. From that smell to the stains of her first piragua, Maria had that beautiful couch memorized.
Maria hoped that, with Anita's untraditional way of life, Bernardo would move out of the house and leave it to her. Maybe he'd add onto it or build a house even closer than Anita's, which was no more than 1,000 feet away, so they could say goodnight to each other every night. Either way, Maria was never going to leave this house. She loved the way the stairs creaked and the walls cracked the slightest bit, filled with familiar memories of generations of family. The walls knew it all – The way her grandmother's grandmother laughed as she told stories of her first love, how her own grandmother first learned how to braid hair, how her father and mother got married in the very room she was sitting in. This house, though rickety and old, was safe.
Maria sighed again, melodramatically. "Bernardo, you need to get up! Is it gonna be ready today?"
"What?" He sat up and wiped the sleep from his eyes.
"That fruit you promised me!"
"Go pick your own fruit."
"But I need your help."
"With what could you possibly need help with? You're fifteen, Maria."
"Eating the mango! Please." She whined, her eyes sparkling.
Picking the right mango and eating it too was, in fact, an art. Bernardo had it down. He had promised every day that he'd take Maria out to Anita's family's and show her just how he'd bring back perfectly sweet, fragrant and vibrant slices of fruit for his baby sister every time he'd come home from a date. Maria loved Anita, she was like the big sister she never had, but she wanted her big brother back every once in a while! Today, Anita made a deal with Maria, swearing to tell Bernardo that he needs to spend time with Maria. Now if he'd just get off the couch…
He yawned. Hollered, really, but that's how Bernardo yawned. He got to his feet, gave his sister a kiss and walked out the door. Maria, confused, sat on the couch and prepared herself to mope when she saw her brother in the window from the deck. "Are you coming or not? Because I'd love to go back to sleep, sweetheart."
Maria jumped up and ran out the front door, letting the storm door slam behind her. She almost tripped over the canopied swing loveseat as she flew off the deck and through the grass. She felt her big brother behind her, chasing her like those days before either of them knew of Anita. Maria laughed, looking back to see him catching up to her. She jumped up onto the mango tree then jumped back down and fell to the ground with delight. Bernardo playfully tackled her; she could smell his hair sweet with soap and the salty water, his breath still stale with sleep. This was their routine as children before someone came out to break up their friendly rivalry.
"Ah," Maria sighed with happiness. She hasn't lost her best friend yet.
"Well, cabronita*, let's see if this tree is as ready as you think it is."
"What'd you just call me?"
"You heard me." He smiled.
His arms, much longer than Maria's, reached into the tree to touch a beautiful mango, dark orange-almost red. He gently put his fingers to it, as if it were a newborn baby, and squeezed it ever so slightly, careful not to leave a large indentation or crush it.
They looked at each other, their own thoughts in the other's head, and smiled. Bernardo held open his arms for a second, grabbed Maria by the waist – When did my brat sister become like that hourglass on the counter next to the stove? Like… Anita? – Bernardo closed his eyes and said, "You see that one I had before? There's a little mark where I touched it. Twist it and pick it off."
Maria spitted it immediately, for it was one of the only remaining ones left on the tree. The smell was enticing and sweet. "I got it…" Maria struggled as Bernardo's hands began slipping up. She grabbed at the mango. It was too perfect. So perfect that Bernardo dropped his sister down, seemingly psychic, and caught the mango falling off the tree.
They laughed. This sort of stuff only happened in storybooks! He held it under his sister's nose, teasing her, before turning and saying, "Come."
To Anita's house they went. At this point, they could simply walk in without a second glance. As they walked through the door, Bernardo first had to go through the entire family in front of their small television. He kissed Anita's father, mother, three sisters and two brothers before he got to her. Maria followed suit. "She needed to have her mango." Bernardo winked, "It fell off the tree. It was calling to us, sir!"
Anita's father, Jesús Vega, laughed. "Get what you want. You know what I told you both, nuestra casa es tu casa." Maria beamed and gave Jesús another big hug. He, although getting up into old age, was still able to crush Maria in a hug. She turned her focus to Bernardo, who had Anita wrapped in his arms and swiftly grabbed a knife. He seemed too large for the small kitchen, bending over the counter with his face in Anita's hair. Maria put her head on Bernardo's shoulder and her arm around him and Anita to watch her wise brother work.
He cut the mango just right from the center, releasing the sweet and juicy scent. Then he cut the left side. Anita, apparently used to this process, grabbed a spoon and handed it to Bernardo. In a swift movement that Maria didn't quite catch while she marveled at the seemingly perfect love between her brother and his girlfriend, a skinless hemisphere was extended in front of her face.
"One side for Maria," He kissed her forehead, "The other for Anita." He smiled as Anita unraveled herself from his embrace, her face already sticky.
Maria bit into the mango carefully. Still, though, juice dripped down her shirt. She looked up at her brother, who was sucking the thin layer of fruit off the pit and smiled. She held her piece to his mouth.
"This is better than that," she said and smiled.
"You owe me anyway, 'mana.*" He took a large bite, which wasn't exactly what Maria had invited him to take.
"Thank you, 'Nardo." She said with a smirk as she finished off her perfect mango.
*Cabrón/Cabrona - Someone who's unfaithful in a relationship. Cabrona is basically a whore, bitch. I've also heard "cabrón" as "dude" and "cabrona" as almost term of endearment too. "She's my bitch," in a way. So, I decided to have Bernardo use it in the feminine diminutive to mess with his conservative little sister.
*'mana - Abbreviation for "Hermana", which means "Sister"