“Whew...the coffee’s pretty strong today,” I said loudly. My partner, Liam, was hardly paying any attention to my comment. I rolled my eyes and went over to see the problem.
“Hey Millie,” he started. “The engine’s busted again. We might have to find help because this is beyond anything I can fix.”
I glanced over at the engine and sighed.
“Alright, go ahead.”
The engine took hours to fix, and like any other car repair station, the workers gave us a list of complications that needed to be repaired. Oil leakage? But it was just fine before, I thought. By the time it was finished, it was nighttime. We decided to book two hotel rooms at The Blue Cabin and rest.
The next day, we would need to wake up at five in the morning to prevent delays in our project. My job isn’t easy. Nevertheless, I was thrilled about the story we were taking on. An upper-middle-class family, the Garcias, had a tradition of sitting on the ground outside during every full moon and eating sunflower seeds. This family was sophisticated and had a great reputation, which is what drew us to this case. Recent studies even showed that sitting down while eating helped with digestion, and everyone knew that sunflower seeds had essential proteins. The project was to find the real origin behind this tradition, and I was ready for the tea.
“It is a smaller case than usual, but any juice can make this paper a hit! Try to squeeze out whatever you can,” my boss said when she assigned me this project.
I was far too excited for sleep, but I soon dozed off in the comfort of the velvety blanket and soft pillows. When morning came, I moved briskly to get ready. We checked out of the hotel and jumped onto the road. Neither of us said much, and the silence ensued. Finally, Liam spoke.
“Millie? Are you sure this project will do much?” he asked worriedly.
“Well, yeah? Nora wouldn’t have given us this task if it was pointless,” I assured him. But at the same time, I was assuring myself. Every minute of the way, my confidence began to sink and my doubtfulness began to take over. Even though I hadn’t arrived yet, I could already tell the issues to come would not be small.
Taking up to an hour at each stop, we finally arrived at the Garcia residence at nine-thirty. I knocked on the door cautiously and waited for the reply. Soon, a young woman who seemed to be in her mid 30’s, opened the door.
“And who may you be?” she inquired, suspiciously.
“Oh!” I said. “We are the interviewers from the LYC company. I’m Emeline Faustine, and this is Liam Blaine. We are here for an interview about your family tradition.”
After checking our IDs and asking us some questions, she let us in. She didn’t look like she trusted us, but she also looked excited.
“So,” she began. “Is this about the sunflower seed one?”
I was slightly surprised. How many more traditions did this family have?
“Yes, it is. Oh, and can we get your name and age?” I said.
“My name is Camila Garcia, and I am 33 years old.”
“Alright...and...perfect! You can start whenever you are ready.”
She took a deep breath and began. “This tradition got passed down from our Bisabuelo. One day, he went out hunting. He got his catch and started home. But then he realized that he needed to grab his hunting stuff,” Camila said. “But when he returned, the meat was gone. He found a fox running away with his catch. Sadly, he lost the fox and his meat-”
“Sorry to interrupt ma’am, but who is biso...bilo? I don’t quite get it,” Liam interrupted.
“BISABUELO. It means great-grandpa. Now stop interrupting me and let me finish the story, niño.”
“Got it, got it. And what does niño mean?” Liam asked.
With Camila’s harsh glare, Liam understood that his silence was requested.
“Never mind!” Liam said.
“Hmph! Anyways, Bisabuelo knew that foxes like seeds,” she continued. “And we had sunflower seeds! On that day, a full moon day, he sat down outside. He waited and waited. But that trickster didn’t show up. He continued to wait, but the fox still didn’t come back. At that point, he just ate the seeds himself. But that thing didn’t come. That sly little fox.”
Making sure to note down every part of the story, I sighed with relief. Finally over, I thought. I was about to excuse myself when I heard a snicker coming from behind the wall.
“Hermana mayor,” a voice sneered. “That isn’t the story.”
I dropped my pen in disbelief. What was that? Did I spend all this time writing for no reason at all?
“Lola! Leave,” Camila urged. But the girl was excited.
Pushing her sister aside, the girl sat on the couch. “I have the real story. And it is good.”
Nervously, I flipped open a new page on my notepad and got ready to write.
“As my Hermana said, this was a story revolving around Bisabuelo. Bisabuelo was sitting outside and was about to give my Bisabuela a sunflower.”
“Why?” I asked. “Was it her birthday? Anniversary?”
“Because it was a full moon day. And they thought that was romantic or something. Anyways, right when he was about to give her the flower, a gust of wind blew the flower away. Bisabuelo spent hours chasing after it and looking for it. But poor Bisabuelo became tired quickly. He decided to just eat sunflower seeds with her there instead. So cute. But none of that nonsense my Hermana said was true.”
“May I ask why you do this?” I asked her.
“We do this to commemorate Bisabuelo-”
“Lola! Dios mio! Who are these people? There is always some random fool here,” an older woman interrupted. “Wait, I mean fools.”
“Ay, Mama! These are interviewers. They are here for the story about our sunflower seed tradition, and I wanted to help,” Lola responded.
“The story? And what do you know about it?” the woman asked. “You don’t know the real story!”
Suddenly everyone stopped what they were doing. Every family member rushed to the living room at once and stared at me and Liam as if we were artifacts.
“The story? So they’re here for the story. I know the story,” they murmured. Oh, dear. This is not good.
All at once, everyone began to deliver their version of the story. It was hard to write this fast, but we thankfully had a recorder. After everyone was done, I checked the notes and the recordings. There were ten different stories! Maybe instead of writing an article about the origin, we can write about how literally each family member has a different version, I thought. There was a version about a romance, a cunning thief, a lost gift, a betrayal, and even a version about a wild bison attack. Abruptly, everyone’s attention was diverted when we heard a loud cough.
“Bisabuela,” Lola said. “Let me get you some water.” My realization struck and I moved over to Liam.
“Psst. Liam,” I whispered.
“What?” Liam whispered back.
“Bisabuela means great-grandmother. All of these stories revolved around Lola’s great-grandpa and others’ grandpa or dad. That means this lady may know the real story!” I said excitedly.
“Then let’s ask her now!” Liam replied.
We both got up from our seats and walked over to where Lola’s bisabuela sat. To be as respectful as possible, we sat down patiently and waited until she drank her water and addressed us herself.
“You...two,” she started. “Why are you sitting here?”
“Miss, we are from an interviewing company. We need to know the story about your sunflower seed tradition. Everyone here is saying something different, and we were hoping you would know.” I said.
“Hm? Bien,” she said. “So the story...ah! ¡Me encantan las semillas de girasol. Mi marido también le gustaron! Tan-”
“Do you understand what she is saying?” Liam asked quietly.
“I don’t know! I haven’t learned Spanish that well,” I responded.
“Miss! Can you speak human?” Liam began.
“He means English! English because we don’t speak Spanish,” I said while glaring at Liam from the corner of my eye.
“Alright,” she sighed. “English it is. So the reason why we do this tradition is...”
I was excited. After everything I had to deal with today, I deserved the real story. And I was ready to submit yet another top article. My gaze was fixed on the woman, and my hands were prepared to write.
“I love sunflower seeds, and so did my husband. So we sat outside and ate them. Everyone else liked it too, so they joined us. Then we decided to all sit together on a full moon day. And eat those seeds.”
“But why on a full moon day?”
I was stunned. My arm was shaking as if to tell me not to write this story. So all this time, the respected and well-known tradition of the Garcia family was just for fun?
“Does that answer your question?” the woman asked me.
“Wait! I have one question. Why did everyone else give different answers?” I questioned, desperate for any drama.
“Well, I told them the real story,” she explained. “But they thought it was a bit too bland and so they each added their own spice to the story.”
“That is it, niña,” the woman chuckled. “Now off you both go! I need my rest.”
Liam and I both excused ourselves and waved goodbye. We stepped outside the house, and I sighed.
“Hah...you know what? I think I found the perfect name for this article,” I declared.
“What is it?” Liam asked curiously. I whispered the title and we both giggled. But I was serious about it.
About a week later, I walked into my boss’s office with my article. She crossed her legs and picked up the paper slowly. Squinting at my paper, she started to read my title.
“1 tradition, 10 origins: Which one is it? Huh…sounds interesting. . .”