My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


It was the baby's fault, maybe. "I got to stop somewhere, Mam," I say. "Gini's thirsty."

"Not one of those places," Mami carps as I turn toward a shop. She hates coffee that comes in paper cups and is not Bustelo. But I hold the door open, steadying the stroller with one foot, and she goes in. I leave her at a table by the window, paging through a daily paper.

Twelve minutes later, I come out of the bathroom and if Mam isn't under the table pretending to faint. The newspaper's still on top, fanned open. Lucky for me it's 3 pm and very slow and the coffee servers are busy typing into their phones, not worrying about the lady who slid onto the floor. You couldn't even see her from the street, just a paper on a table with a girl rushing toward it, carrying a baby.

Mam's god is not subtle, that's for sure: right on E1 is the photo of me modeling that ostrich feather stuff of Doro's, with the hat that looks like Rubik's cubes stuffed inside a hen. Leave it to her God to stick that photo under her nose. Leave it to me to forget to hide it. I rub her shoulder, but she ignores me. Gini thinks this is extra fun and crawls onto Mam's neck, squealing. But Mam's staring into the future and sees a teenage Gini begging, or talking to a psychiatrist, or majoring in women's studies or something awful like that. She sees herself in a sweatsuit eating cat food, calling pigeons to her windowsill for company. As if imagination were destiny.

"Mami, get off the floor. If you stay here they'll make you buy something."

"That job will make you famous and you'll leave us. You'll fly off and be flat and cheap like that photo." Perfume rises where Gini tugs the folds of her blouse, making a small atmosphere around us.

"No. I won't. We'll be fine." Is this true? My mother takes five long breaths, staring at the bottom of the table, deciding. She is beautiful there, braid pressed into the floor, baby pawing her brooch of false gold lilies. She feels my eyes on her beauty, the beauty she gave me, copied in papers to sell clothes, that will maybe let my daughter live in beauty too. After the last exhalation, she turns her eyes to mine and, for now, forgives:

"Next time you show me first. There's more rotten pink gum under the tables in these places than a lady should see."

No comments:

Post a Comment