Mar's Liver

When my parents divorced, my dad met a Filipina woman named Mar. To affirm their courtship, she invited my brothers and me for dinner at her duplex first-floor apartment in Lincoln Park.

"Have some, Carmen," she said when she noticed me looking at the lumps sizzling in a black pan on the stainless steel stove.

"It's ground beef," she said, giving me a curved white plate, the kind you find in Ikea. "Your dad told me you don't like liver."

I continued to stare at the pan, watching Mar scoop up some ground beef with her wooden spoon.

"Thank you," I said before I walked to the table directly across from the stove. It was a small apartment but it was cozy and clean. I felt my spirit safe in this place.

Mar placed a tray of tortillas on the table and my dad and brothers hands were like tentacles immediately attacking the tray. I, at last, grabbed two tortillas (I like my tacos doubled up) and made my taco. The sweet meaty juice dripped down my hand as I squeezed the taco to take my first bite.  My teeth ripped through the thick, tortilla barrier and bit down on soft, melting meat. I tasted salt and oil and pepper and home and love and trust and good intentions.  I ate five tacos in total.

I looked up from my plate and looked at Mar in the eyes and smiled. She smiled back at me and said, "Didn't that liver taste good?"

It did.


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