Category Archives: Short Stories

Hurricane Maria Reflections

I’ve done a lot of reflecting in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. I am a Puerto Rican who lived in the island until the age of 33. I love Puerto Rico, the food, the culture and the people. Even though it hurts to see the devastation that hurricane Maria left on the island, I know the flowers will bloom again, the trees will grow and the buildings and homes can be rebuilt. But, the hurt I feel the most is for the people of Puerto Rico. I am sad, angry and appalled by the actions towards humanity both, here in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico.

I am sad at the devastation the island has suffered. I’m also sad at the situation my fellow Puerto Rican’s are going through – their hunger, despair, the lack of medicine for the ill, clean water and the loss of homes for many. It hurts to see them going through such pain. It hurts to see the destruction of the streets where I once walked through and the establishments I frequented.

I am angry at the response of many who feel they have the right to comment on something they are not experiencing. I have watched videos of others criticizing and belittling the people of Puerto Rico and it is a shame. My fellow Puerto Rican’s have just gone through a horrific experience. Many lost all their belongings, including homes and autos. Most don’t even have a way to communicate with their own loved ones and remain in the dark about each other’s whereabouts. Many may be jobless as well if their employer’s businesses have succumbed to loss too.

I’m appalled at the reaction of government organizations and their slow response to the situation at hand. It’s not a matter of politics, it’s a matter of lives.  My beliefs are with humanity. I belief that in a humanitarian crisis rules and regulations should be thrown out the window. People come first.

But through it all my people’s spirits are always high. They have faith in themselves and in the higher power of God. I’ve watched video after video of people in my beautiful island lending a hand to each other, feeding each other, and sharing what little they have left. I have watched video after video of people in good spirits, playing music, playing domino’s in the middle of the street in about 2-3 feet of water, picking up trash and debris to clear pathways or just sitting around each other’s company to chat.  Their effort to make the most of it and be in good spirits even though many might be traumatized, confused and not know where to start or turn to, is inspiring and makes me proud to be a Puerto Rican.

I believe that if we’re not going through the situation ourselves, we have no right to comment. We do not know what is going on, what is being done or not done. Only those in the situation can comment about it. In my opinion, those who take the time to judge and criticize my people are just emitting a reflection of themselves. And that’s exactly what is wrong in this world. Instead of sending out love there’s a lot of hatred from everywhere and it is sad. There’s not one soul in this world that is better than the other because we are all the same if you turn us inside out. I believe in respect and love for every human being in this world and I strongly believe that every life matters. I pray that in this humanitarian crisis people will finally be awakened. Love and light to all.

My Morning Commute

During my morning commute to work I leave my windows down – not because I want to but because my a/c broke so I don’t have a choice. I don’t mind though. I learned to take in nature and enjoy it. The smell of morning dew, the aroma of freshly mowed grass (until I approach the maintenance guy with the mower spewing the smell of gasoline), the cricket’s screech through the dense grassy areas, the bird’s early morning song and the fresh breeze that hits my face while driving on Hwy 27. I just love nature!

Every time I stopped to wait for the light to turn green, I glanced around from car to car to observe humankind. I saw a young lady putting on her lipstick, a well suited man sipping his coffee, a couple eating their breakfast, a man that was yawning, about 6 or 7 people on their cell phones, a woman who appeared to be arguing on the phone.  I wonder what upset her so bad that made her face beet red – or is she naturally a beet-red skinned person?  And then there’s the “texter” texting away at the stop lights while the impatient driver behind her honks his horn 1/8 of a second after the light turns green.  It’s like if he already had his hand on the horn ready to blast it. Heck, I think he honked even before the light turned green, not at me but at the “texter.”

Ah, but my favorite character is the one I saw through my rear view mirror, the young man in the green Honda erratically driving, cutting in front of everyone from one lane to the other and blasting his music.  I wondered what his rush was?  His desperation didn’t do much because somehow I caught up with him at the light and I didn’t even go the speed limit!  I guess he likes to be the first at the stop light.  The light turned green and he accelerated just to be standing at the next light for a longer period of time than the rest of us.  Does he not realize that?  Lucky him that the police officer that we passed was too busy giving out a ticket to another desperate driver.

So, I drove on observing humankind and their acts while still catching a glimpse of the erratic Honda lunatic swerving left and right, speeding through traffic blasting his music.  I finally reached my left turn.  Just 5 more minutes and three more stop lights and I would arrive.  That was a nice drive.  Then I realize that the lunatic in the green Honda has turned down his music, was in front of me, and was turning onto the Big Lots parking lot.  What do you know, I didn’t even have to speed and we arrived to HIS destiny at the same time.  Lol!  Sending lots of love, light and peace to you my dear lunatic.  Maybe we’ll meet again tomorrow.

My Dragon Fruit

About two years ago, my Mom gave me a plant that she could no longer keep.  It was growing too big and climbing up the walls of her apartment complex.  I accepted the plant and brought it home.  It was planted in a 12” green planter.  It was an ugly cactus type plant with large limbs that looked like tentacles which attached themselves to whatever they got a hold of.  I placed the plant at the very back of our yard out of my sight.

One day, while working in the yard.  I looked at the plant and thought of throwing it away (see photos below).  It was so ugly and the limbs were just dangling everywhere.  I did not know what to do with the plant.  I figured that the decent thing to do was let my Mom know I didn’t want the plant, so I left it where it was until I spoke with Mom.  However, later that day while browsing through Facebook, I came across an article on a Dragon Fruit plant.  The article caught my attention because the plant on the photo looked a lot like my ugly plant with tentacles.

The plant on the article was called a Dragon Fruit Tree.  Dragon Fruit is an exotic fruit very hard to find and quite expensive.  Ancient Chinese legends says, “The Dragon Fruit was created thousands of years ago by a dragon in battle.  During the battle a dragon blew a burst of fire containing the fruit.  The Chinese believed that those who consumed the pulp of the dragon fruit were given the strength, and immortality of the dragon.  The health benefits and delicious flavor of this exotic fruit is legendary.  Dragon Fruit plants are easy to grow in containers as long as you provide a strong support structure!  Dragon Fruit offers excellent nutritional and health benefits.  Dragon fruit is packed with high concentrations of antioxidants that boost the immune system.” (

After reading about the Dragon Fruit plant I decided to keep it and change its container.  I re-potted the plant in a larger 22” pot and had my husband build a trellis for it.  From that moment on I began caring for it in a different way.  I was curious to try the fruit. I had never seen the fruit before, nonetheless tasted it until my trip to Spain.  While in Barcelona we visited La Boquería market which is known as one of the best markets in the world.  While strolling through the aisles of fresh fish, meat, vegetables and fruits, there it was, fresh-cut Dragon Fruit ready to eat!  Of course I had to taste this exotic fruit that I had the privilege to own in my back yard.  I was so glad I kept the plant.  The fruit was delicious and refreshing.  What a delight.

Fast forward ten months now and just a few weeks ago I saw that my Dragon Fruit tree was blooming.  I anxiously waited for the flower to open and every morning walked outside to check on it.  Then one night I happened to glance towards the Dragon Fruit tree and it had the most beautiful huge white flower.  It turns out that the Dragon Fruit tree will open its flower during the night.  I only saw it open for two nights though.  I’m not sure if it had been opening prior to when I first saw it.  Right above the flower was a bump where the fruit began to grow.  Every day it grew bigger and began ripening from a beautiful green to a bright pinkish-red.  And, every day I checked to see if it was ready to harvest.

The day finally arrived, Sunday, August 14, 2016, when the Dragon Fruit was ready to be picked.  It was soft to the touch so I tucked on it a few times and it came right off.  I rinsed it out and carved into to it.  Its rubbery red skin peeled off easily.  Its soft white flesh was full of tiny black seeds and it was just as I expected – a delicious sweet taste that melts in your mouth.  It was well worth the wait.  Lucky me there were four more on the plant ready to blossom and ripen.

My little ugly-looking plant with tentacles turned out to be a beautiful Dragon Fruit tree which I am proud to own.

After transplanting into a larger pot.
The first bloom
Dragon Fruit in full bloom
Close up of Dragon Fruit bloom
Bloom gone, fruit bearing
Beginning stages of ripening fruit
Mid stages of ripening fruit
Fully ripened Dragon Fruit
Ready to eat!


How Hurricane Irma Tormented Me


It was Sunday, September 10, 2017. Hurricane Irma is a category 5 storm expected to hit Florida. I live in Central Florida. The expected time of impact for my area is roughly 2:00 a.m. We prepped as best as we could – plenty of water, non-perishable food plenty for a few days, batteries, flashlights, and so on. Our roof was in the beginning stages of repair so the roofer’s placed a tarp over it to avoid any further damage. We cleared the patio terrace from all furniture, plants, wind chimes and any other potential projectile as recommended. It was very calm – no birds flying or chirping.  A clear sign of what was to come. They knew to steer clear from the monster that would creep in.

Besides my family and my myself, we expected to have my mom and a friend of mine with her 4-year-old child to weather the storm at our home.  We were 8 people, two dogs and a cat. The wait was endless. We tried to make the best of it by playing board games, talking and watched some TV even though most of the television time was spent watching the news. Some of us were anxious, bored or worried.

The rain began at around midday with some wind gusts of about 40 miles. It seemed like a long day. At around 11:00 p.m. I was ready to shower and head to bed. The winds began to pick up as soon as I got into bed. Chewy, our 25-pound dachshund/chihuahua mix, was trembling with fear. I allowed him onto our bed instead of his.

I heard the winds pounding on our windows and what sounded as if either the shed, roof of the outdoor kitchen or the fence was ready to come off. It stopped for a few seconds followed by silence, which was just as terrifying as the howling wind. Irma was not happy. I tried to sleep, but as I was about to doze off I heard a text message come in. It was my sister. She was giving me her accounts of the storm. We texted back and forth for a little while when I decided that I’d prefer to wait it out in the family room. I got up and walked into the family room. The double glass doors vibrated from the winds force. I walked towards the other side of the house and knocked on the door to the bedroom where my mom was but she didn’t respond. I opened it slowly and called out to her a couple of times. She was fast asleep. I wished I had been able to sleep like that while the hurricane stirred outside. I returned to the family room and sat down for a little bit with my friend.

My husband, son and son-in-law all stepped outside the front entrance – crazy guys. Just then the power went out. It was 2:00 a.m. and just as the news anchor predicted, the winds picked up. My sister sent me another text. It seemed to be winding down in her area so she was going to try to get some sleep. I could hear the clanking of flapping roofs and the tossing around of flying debris. I could hear the flapping of the tarp on our roof. It sounded as if the roof was about to give in and fly away. I didn’t know what category the storm was by now nor the speed of the wind. I really didn’t care. I just prayed to God to spare my family, friends, neighbors and Florida from any catastrophe. I headed back to bed even though it was so hard for me to fall asleep. I dozed on and off as the wind pounded on our windows like a mad man, in this case, a mad woman wanting to come inside. She grunted, howled and pushed with all her force and no mercy. She was relentless.

It was now 3:45 a.m. I still couldn’t sleep. I grabbed my iPad and logged onto Facebook and read how my local family and friend’s status depicted their Irma experience. Like I, many were terrified of what was going on. It was surreal. In between Facebook posting I maintained communication via text with my brother and my cousin. By now my husband was oblivious of what was going on as he slept peacefully with Chewy between us trembling. I got up a couple of times and peeked out the window towards the pitch, black night torment of Irma. The last time I glanced at the time it was 4:37 a.m. Irma’s furry was still thrashing away at the windows and everything outside. I was so tired but every time I dozed off I was awakened by Irma’s winds. It finally began winding down just enough for me to get a shut-eye.

I woke up at 6:08 a.m. still tired but relieved that the hurricane had moved on. I lived in Puerto Rico until 1996 and had been in many hurricanes back then and a few here in Florida. But I don’t recall any of them being as terrifying as Irma. It was the longest night of my life.

My Dingy Old Cross

Today, I was switching out purses and came across a dingy old cross.  It’s a silver and gold colored cross with green gem stones and it’s made of some sort of plastic material.  It’s missing one of the gems.  This cross was given to me by a spunky 5-year-old Caucasian little boy with beautiful green eyes.  His name was Timothy.

It was the year 1981, I worked as a cake decorator in Baskin-Robins in Puerto Rico.  Timothy came in with his Mom every day and ate a French vanilla ice cream cone.  Neither Timothy nor his Mom spoke Spanish so I would tend to them since I was fluent in English.  Timothy was not shy at all and would ask all sorts of questions about ice cream.  He also loved the cake decorations and complimented me on my cake decorating skills.  He especially loved the ice cream clown cones which was nothing other than a vanilla or chocolate upside down ice cream cone with a cherry as its nose, icing as its eyes, mouth, and  decoration.  His Mom didn’t buy those since Timothy liked French vanilla and I never made French vanilla ice cream cones.

One time on their usual visit, I said to him, “Wow Timothy, you are so lucky to have a Mom who brings you to get ice cream every day!”  Timothy replied, “I sure am,” while licking away on his ice cream cone and chatting as he usually did.  There was something about that little boy that just made me stop what I was doing just to listen to him talk.  Whenever I was very busy his Mom would prop him on the counter closest to my decorating area and he would continue to talk to me while I worked.  He always made me laugh and smile.  He made me happy.

I had not seen Timothy in about a week. One day, Timothy’s Mom dropped in by herself and purchased a pint of French Vanilla ice cream.  I asked her about Timothy, she responded that he was ill.  I thought maybe he had a cold or something like that and asked her if it was a cold or the flu.  Her response left me in shock.  She said, “Timothy has cancer and doesn’t have much time to live.”  She told me that he knew but didn’t understand it too well.  She told him that he could have whatever he wanted in the world and all he requested was a French vanilla ice cream cone every day until the day he went back home to God.  I was speechless and other than “I’m sorry” I didn’t know what else to say.  She smiled, thanked me and told me that most likely she would be able to bring him on Friday or Saturday if he was feeling better.  Anticipating to see him that weekend, I made a special French vanilla clown cone for Timothy and wrote his name on the clown’s hat.  It would be my little gift to him.

Friday came along and in came Timothy with a huge smile on his face.  I could hear him yell “Hi Miss Debbie” in his sweet child voice.  I turned around from my decorating area and went to greet him.  He asked for his usual French Vanilla cone and while he ran to the fridge where the cakes and clown cones were, I told his Mom about the clown ice cream cone I had made especially for him and asked if it were okay.  When she gave me authorization to give it to him, I walked over to where Timothy stood and asked him if he knew how to read his name.  He responded that he did, so I motioned for him to look towards the clown cones.  When he read his name he got very excited and asked if it were for him.  I responded that it was and gave it to him.  I will never forget that look of happiness in his face over an ice cream clown.

The next day, Timothy and his Mom returned.  Timothy had a gift for me.  He brought in an old thin cake decorating ideas book and a small gift wrapped by him.  He handed me the gifts and I proceeded to unwrapped it.  It was the cross.  He told me that he wanted me to have it so I would never forget him.  For the first time since I knew Timothy, tears rolled down my cheeks.  He was the sweetest little boy I had known.  I thanked him, he ate his usual French vanilla cone and they were on their way.  That was the last time I saw Timothy.

A few months went by when his Mom dropped in by herself.  I didn’t need to ask.  I already knew that she wasn’t there to buy ice cream.  She was very sad.  She looked at me and said, “I just want to thank you for your kindness towards my son.  Timothy passed away a month ago.”

The rest of my day was a sad one.  I didn’t know Timothy that well but he was such a delight that it was easy for anyone to feel love for him.  I remembered that the cross was on top of the counter where I decorated cakes along with the cake decorating booklet.  I took the cross in my hand and vowed that I would never part from that cross or forget Timothy and I placed it in my purse.  So for the past 36 years and still today, every time I switch purses I make sure to transfer the cross into my new bag.  And every time I come across it memories of  Timothy flood my mind.

With no doubt I will never forget him. Thank you Timothy, may you rest in peace.  With Love Miss Debbie