What was she doing here in this hot weather? The day was hot and humid, yet going in and out of the subway would have been too expensive. Her chin hit the sidewalk. It happened almost without her realizing it. One minute she was up and the next down. Her whole body hurt but the chin got the worst of it. he hoped someone in the street full of people would offer to help her up. No one did. he struggled up again as best she could, picking up her purse. She shook her head and on she went. The day was too bright to think about heartlessness.
The door was large. It was wide open. The sun shone on the tile floors. She stood by the entrance, near the brick wall. Was he going to come? Was he going to show up this afternoon? She couldn’t wait much longer. What if someone saw her? What would she say if an acquaintance asked her? Mass wouldn’t be starting for another 3 hours. She’d take the risk. She’d simply say that she had to tell him something about the Legion of Mary, something like that. Making something up wasn’t quite right, but she didn’t care. The last time she had seen him was almost 2 weeks ago. It was an eternity. She didn’t like eternities. A man opened one of the other doors, by the altar. She made the sign of the Cross and swallowed. Her knees felt funny, as if they would betray her. She walked towards him.
A woman stood by the large pot on the stove. Would you like a little bit of soup? Yes, if you can spare some, the other woman answered. As the first woman was putting the soup in a yellow bowl, a middle aged fat man came into the kitchen. His tone of voice was mocking and angry at the same time. What have we here? Are we feeding the hungry traitor? Are we feeding the traitor who would call ICE? The first woman handed the bowl to the other woman. She opened a door and closed it tight. Ice? I never said anything about ICE.
What are you doing, Maria? From her room the other woman heard the fat man. Are you giving her food? Maria yelled back something that the other woman couldn’t understand. She thought of giving back the bowl of soup. No, I won’t. This time I’ll enjoy this. She’s a good cook.
The cat was just there, looking around her. A man walked by the cat and clapped, once, twice. The cat ran to the other end of the living room. Don’t you dare, she said, to do that to my cat. If you don’t want her to be there, be polite and tell me so. The man said shut up and went into the bathroom. As soon as he opened the door, the woman repeated her request, this time in Spanish. I have to tell you, she told him, that I am tired of your lack of respect towards me. The man said something about this being his house and almost shut the door in her face. How can this be your house? You don’t pay rent. Please go back to Mexico. Did you just threaten me with the ICE Group, the man’s voice was shrill. Maria, she threatened me with Ice, he said to the woman in the bedroom. I did no such thing. I just said you are a rude person. She shrugged her shoulders and went back to her room. I have to get out of here, she told her cat. This is just too, too stressful. We don’t deserve this kind of life.
I don’t know what tribute to offer you. None will do justice to what you did for me. None will get you back for me. I will not sleep with your little face against mine; I will not see you when I wake up in the morning. I can never pet you again, or feed you or take you to the vet. All I can do is say thank you. You were in my life. We were together. If any cat was or is better than you, I never met such a cat. When I found you on the street that day in March, it was better than finding a treasure.
The fat man sat in his living room chair, waiting for the bathroom. The white cotton robe he was wearing couldn’t hide his paunch. A cat stood on her hind legs near him. “Don’t worry about it, Dahlia,” her owner told her.” Don’t let anybody scare you.” The owner sighed after she spoke. The fat man stared at the cat. She looked at the man and ran back to her room. The man got up and went inside his bedroom. When he came out he had a spray can in his hand. He said something to his live-in girlfriend in Mexican Spanish and pushed the spray button. “That’s right, go ahead and fumigate,” The cat’s owner said. “Next time I’ll return the favor.”
The dog lay on the floor, his blond owner smiling hard and caressing his head. It will be soon, she told him. There aren’t too many people yet in line. She reached inside her purse. Here, your tennis ball. The dog looked at the ball and turned his face towards hers. She held on to his leash. The big sign on it said Do Not Pet. Please get up, dear. The dog tried hard, but his hind legs were stubborn. The owner grabbed the back of his body and pushed him up. See, you can still do it. When the line moved again, she pushed him up a second time. The dog’s eyes shone. Once he rested his body against her legs, his paws in the air. The vet’s assistant called out: Next! The dog looked at his owner and got up by himself.
Another dog, another German shepherd, had similar hind leg problems. He couldn’t move. He gave up trying to walk.
No, please! Be good to me! Don’t hide it. Please don’t hide your bracelet. It is a diamond bracelet and it shines like a Christmas tree. I’m standing right behind you at the checkout counter. The newspaper you’re holding is in the way. Please remove it, or else my eyes can’t enjoy the sight. I love diamonds. They make me happy. They remind me of my own diamond bracelet, the one I had long ago. I miss it so much! They say material things aren’t important, but they don’t know what they’re talking about. Material things mean you can afford them and affording them is good. If you only knew the pleasure I’m getting out of looking at your bracelet, you’d understand. How sad! The line is moving and I can’t gorge on the bracelet anymore. For a little bit I could pretend I had mine wrapped around my wrist.
She looked at the sky. Cloudy–it was cloudy and windy. And the air smelled of rain. That didn’t surprise her. The weather matched her mood. No, not this one either, she thought. I’ve looked and nothing. Nothing to be found. Now what? She threw her hands up in the air. What will happen now? What’s next? She had perseverance and drive. She didn’t give up easily. But maybe she had to give up now, or at least give herself a break. She needed a rest. For many years she had lived hard. She had to rest somewhere, under a tree, under something not harsh and bitter.
I lost. I lost you, my little one. You are doing well. I have seen pictures to prove that. You lead a good life, but I don’t see you. I have no life with you anymore. This hurts me more than anything I have experienced these last years—not having you has cost me more than money, more than sleepless nights. You’re gone and I will never get you back. Sometimes living on memories is not an option.
He stood as near the door as he could. His left hand held on to the suitcase while the right took care of the duffel bag. It wanted to fall on the floor. There were many other passengers in the subway car. The train stopped. First he pushed the suitcase, and kicked it forward with his foot. Then his hand grabbed the duffel. It must have been heavier than he thought. He winced, then held it again before rushing out the open door.