"Maria and the Texas Christmas Dinner"
A warm fire crackled gently against the dark metal compartment walls leaving a comforting glow that could relax even the most vicious beasts. The rippling reflection of water blanketed the Within the confines of the cozy home sat Maria in her large Texan sofa brought from her childhood home. Maria, a poor, elderly old widow with no reason to be chipper was a Texas native who had moved to the stylish new coastal home submerged compartments to escape civil unrest amongst the United States as well as the world. What made the compartments unique was that they were placed in cities during the global warming era on dry land. Thanks to the rapid melting of the polar icecaps, they now lay still amidst the urban jungle hidden by ocean. With her family, her sofa, her incredibly empty pineapple-shaped house, and her horde of eighty-seven intelligent cats capable of human vocalization, she lived an unhappy, endless daily grind. The urked woman’s two other neighbors were her only form of socialization for miles around. Rosa was Maria’s least favorite neighbor for their opposite behaviors. Rosa was a kind young woman who seemingly had an endless supply of wealth. The only similarity the two women shared was their adept cooking capabilities. Maria’s other neighbor, Edna, was a childhood friend of her’s who lived off the adventures the duo had together while being a complete showoff.. Now being miles away from socialization to flaunt her excellence, the old woman had slowly lost her sanity from the small confines of her exceptionally small home. With not much else to indulge in, Maria chose her isolation without argument. This, however, never meant she was completely isolated all year.
Only once a year would Maria open the doors of her sealed compartment to the outside world just to invite her family in on a holiday that often displeased herself: Christmas. The grandmother remembered growing up in Texas when the holiday represented the birth of Jesus, but now had sunk into the confines of commercialism. She grunted at the thought, waking herself up from her nostalgic daydream. The sound of Christmas music floated in the air from her radio in the next room as she stood in the kitchen chopping vegetables staring out her porthole into the darkened ocean below. Christmas Eve was upon her, and like every year, she was tasked with making the perfect Texas Christmas chili dinner. Every year on every Christmas Eve she made the same dish for her family. Not even on a time of joy could she escape the curse of her daily grind. Returning into her roaming mind, she stared in a trance out her port window imagining an adventure deep below the darkness where ship ruins and sunken office buildings lay. “I have the means of diving down there,” she thought, “ but I do not have the inspiration to do so.” The outside world now scared her from being away for so long. She once again shook herself awake from the trance to return to her chopping of ingredients for the Chili.
“Let’s see,” she said out loud,” the recipe calls for chili powder, sea salt, motor oil, rocket propellent, oranges, dish soap, and two priceless beans that are easily able to be sold for a price that could buy out the United States.” She chuckled at the thought of buying out the land and naming it United Texas of Marialand. Returning to her task, she had added all ingredients except for the magic beans. She wrinkled her nose as she looked intently through her kitchen cabinets for the elusive final ingredients. Finally one of her cats trotted over and said rudely, “WHERE IS MY FOOD, MORTAL?” Maria responds, “I appear to have run out of my magical beans for my chili!” The cat ponders for a bit, then asks, “Do you know where any more beans could be?” Maria thinks for a moment before realizing the only place they could be is located in the confines of a sunken applebee’s bathroom on her old house’s road. Upon notifying the cat, he responds by tugging her to the submarine that Maria had hidden away. Maria knew this would be dangerous and could take a while, so she notified her neighbors.
Rosa accepted the news and offered to watch her pineapple house while she was gone, but Maria bluntly refused saying that she has trusted Edna to do so, being careful not to reveal that she hasn’t asked yet. Feeling a bit humored over her rash behavior, she steered the vessel to Edna’s dark home where she tells Edna of the ordeal. Edna shows genuine interest in her facial expression when told and asks,” Mind if I come along?” Once again, Maria bluntly refuses and states,” This is my secret recipe, I can’t let you know.” Edna gives a disapproving look and asks, “Is it the beans from the old Applebees again?” As pale faced as an albino on a winter morning, Maria fled the scene.
After about an hours worth of diving time at a slow pace, the duo of the brave grandmother and her intelligent cat finally arrive at street level near the destroyed Applebees. “This is truly a most terrifying sight, think of all the food that spoiled there,” said Maria as she began tearing up. Putting on their diving suits, Maria took the initial plunge into the icy water of the Gulf of Mexico. At first, Maria thought about visiting her home quick, but she knew the nostalgia would hit her like a derailed train. Swallowing her gut, she swam through the dark doors of the Applebees and blew open the grimy door of the submerged bathroom.
There, sitting upon the counter awkwardly due to the diving equipment, was Nicolas Cage. Upon detecting the intruder, he pulls out his harpoon gun and prepared a defense for the beans that lay behind him. Maria recognized the star from her childhood almost immediately, her idle. She quickly yells,” Nicolas Cage, what are you doing here?!” Giving a saddened look, he states,” Due to budget cuts on my movie National Treasure Seven, the Hollywood directors left most of the crew down here to cut back on return trip expenses.” Nicolas Cage looked down for a moment as if in grief, but then locked his eyes intently near Maria. “These beans aren’t going anywhere,” he said intimidatingly. Almost immediately, he fires his harpoon gun at Maria who braces for impact. The bolt sails past her and pins another figure to the wall through it’s flipper, careful not to hit the actual figure inside due to a non-violent school policy so that his story may be spread by those of the academic community. He shouts,” Swiper no swiping!” The figure looks up to reveal a fox’s face who says, “Aw man.” Then due to the criminal code of conduct, he retreats from the scene. Nicolas Cage then looks at the visibly shaken old woman and apologizes. As he swims over to help Maria up, she beats him unconscious with her water purse filled to the brim with hard candy.
Carefully swimming around the unconscious man, the cat swims over to retrieve the beans from the counter. Just before reaching them, a loud explosion rocks the submerged block. Fearing the worst, Maria swims ahead while the cat struggles with supporting the beans in his mouth. With the building shaking violently still, the doorway to the bathroom collapses locking the feline in the confines of a ceramic cell. Maria swims back immediately to try and pull the rubble back, but is stopped by a voice.
“Is the door locked?” asks a frail voice with a triumphant sounded tone. Maria turns to confront the one she once saw a decent acquaintance who she could possibly rely on to spare a tablespoon of sugar, and also witnesses Edna’s functional submarine next to her burning ruin behind her. Maria asked shockingly, “Why?” The villainous woman responded, “Because these beans will skyrocket me to fame in the block!” “There is only three of us,” Maria responded. Edna responds, “It doesn’t matter to me you unskilled chef!” Instantaneously, Maria, overcome with anger, punctures a hole in Edna’s air tank forcing her to either return to the ship or drown. Edna yells annoyed,” Why did you do that?” Maria looks at her ship’s ruins and then says, “The betrayal you see is trivial, but what is truly fearsome, is the betrayal you don’t see.” Edna gives a confused look and asks, “What?” Maria looks blankly at Edna and says, “Are you my grandson?” Abandoning the scene, Edna boards her submarine and dives off away from the lost battle.
Now the issue remained regarding Maria’s stuck cat and her now smouldering transport sub. Suddenly, Rosa pops out of a nearby sunken garage in her submarine painted a deep black to blend in well with the surroundings. The sight of the cheerful woman disgusts Maria but nonetheless she is grateful to see someone who could save her cat. Rosa yells over a loudspeaker, “I saw the whole ordeal, stand back so I can knock down the outside wall to the bathroom.” The submarine then retracts it’s periscope to reveal a torpedo launcher. As if in a war, the torpedo comes to life and flies at high speeds into the wall leaving a low blast radius. The cat swims out with its hair on end from the unexpected loud noise.Angrily, the cat states, “Mortal, I demand your finest meat for this act!”
After the beans were secured next to Maria’s side, Rosa explained that she observed Edna sneaking off after Maria’s submarine and decided to follow. “Clearly this was a good decision,” said Rosa now with everyone in the submarine. As they slowly drifted back to the small band of compartments they called home, a sense of peace and acceptance hit Maria. Ever since she met Rosa, Maria never accepted her, but now this new friendship seemed so nice. The duo finally arrive at Maria’s home with no sign of Edna having returned, likely from fear. As Maria swam out from Rosa’s sub hatch, Rosa shouted over the loudspeaker that Maria should try some of her cooking at lunch after Christmas. Maria turned and said, “Who are you again?”
Finally returning to the comfort of her compartment, she grasped the beans and looked at them in her palm. Further analysis of the beans revealed that they were actually jelly beans. The only thing magic about them was their magically large size. Frustration overwhelmed Maria, and she tossed the false beans into the pot with the other ingredients. With high hopes, she tossed her food angrily into the oven and waited.
On Christmas day, Maria’s family all came as usual to her festive home to celebrate. The children all opened their presents and all the family members exchanged gifts. Oddly enough, everyone received a stomach pump in their stockings. As everyone took their seat at the table for their texan Christmas dinner, the horrible smell of death filled the air. The origin was coming from behind the kitchen door. Suddenly Maria burst through the door holding a blackened dish of a mysterious goo. Everyone looked at each other and whispered, “Just once a year,” to themselves.