Twelve Months of Kristal 50 Loving States, Maine by Theodora Taylor

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The Eleventh Day of Christmas





KRISTAL





The urge to draw hits me just as I’m about to wrap my chopsticks around the sakizuke course. This isn’t the usual delightful impulse to capture someone or some scene down on paper, but a total compulsion. My skin crawls with the need to pull out my drawing pad as the vision of this latest “loved one” fills my head and twists my stomach, making it so I can’t eat. Even though I really, really want to.

I’ve been waiting for over a year to eat at Sukiyabashi Daniel, San Francisco’s hottest new sushi restaurant. It was founded by Daniel Ito, a Michelin star chef, whose father and uncle also became Michelin Star chefs while working at his grandfather’s world-renowned sushi restaurant in Tokyo. Typically, a chef hailing from such an eminent sushi family would have continued his career in Japan.

But according to the People magazine article I’d read about the restaurant last year, Daniel had decided to open his own eatery after being disinherited and kicked out of the family business after he came out as gay. With a generous investment from a Japanese billionaire, he’d set up shop in San Francisco.

The resulting omakase-style restaurant was a humble mix of tradition and outrageous fusion, and it was still creating quite a stir on both local and national foodie blogs when I arrived back in the human realm on the first day of Christmas.

With only ten tables available, it had been nearly impossible to get a reservation last year. In fact, when I called to confirm my reservation a few days ago, the host had declared me lucky. “You only had to wait a year, honey. If you made a reservation today, it’d be eighteen months!”

I’d been so looking forward to this meal. Why, Santa, why did the uncontrollable urge to draw have to hit me before I even got a chance to take my first bite?

Okay, technically, I know why. Really it’s my own fault. I had no business looking around curiously at the other diners while the restaurant’s sole waiter brought out the first course. Shouldn’t have wondered why tonight there were eleven tables set out instead of ten… or let my eyes linger for so long on the couple, who were sitting at the only round top in a restaurant filled with square-shaped ones.

Why hadn’t I looked away, instead of speculating to myself about why they’d been served first, even though they were seated the farthest away from the non-traditional zero-seat sushi bar?

Usually, I keep my eyes down when I’m out in the human world during the twelve days of Christmas. Each of us elves has a special ability, granted to us by Grandpa Claus upon the night of our adoption. My bestie cousin, Krista, and many of the other elves consider their unique ability a gift, like the superpowers we all dreamed of having as kids before Santa adopted us.

But in my case, Santa’s gift is more like a curse.

And curse is what I do under my breath as I glance again at the beautiful people sitting at the eleventh table. A man and a woman, who I’m guessing to be in their thirties, based purely on their fashion choices and the fact that they can afford to drop so much money on a meal where the chef gets to decide exactly what they eat.

He’s dressed in a tux, and she’s wearing an evening gown like they’ve either just returned from or are about to go to an opera. And they’re both over-the-top attractive. Like, glowing with ethereal beauty. Long, thin, and gorgeous, they look like supermodels, posing for an ad urging you to buy something ungodly expensive. He’s Asian with well-defined cheekbones, gorgeous half-moon eyes, and a strong nose—I know I’d have all sorts of trouble capturing it on paper. She has dark brown hair and tanned skin that could have marked her as coming from anywhere: Mexico, Europe, or a tanning booth on Union Street.

But she’s not from any of those places I already know. She’s from Brazil. Specifically, the city of Jaraguá do Sul—at least that’s where the loved one I have the overwhelming urge to draw lives. Instead of tucking into my first course, I reluctantly pull out my drawing pad and sharpie and sketch the portrait of a woman who looks so much like the modelesque brunette, I can only assume she’s her sister.

She’s beautiful, too, but in a more wholesome way.

She looks nice. Like a sweet big or little sister. And according to the date I add last in the upper left corner of the portrait, she’ll be dead within three months. Crap.

Ten years I’ve had this gift, and every picture I draw still fills me with sadness. But that’s the point, isn’t it? Santa wants me to remember always that I’m not the only one, that I’m not alone as I was that night when he found me crying over my mother’s body.