quick hehehe’s and hahaha’s and silent cackles exploding inside
Our front brown stoop steps are crowded
Five Year olds shushing their baby sisters, rocking them in their arms.
Mami and Papis nowhere to be seen.
The older girls resting their elbows on their knees,
Raising their head and eyebrow, mouth pulled to the side
every time a chump walked by
Under the microscope, flat on a slide,
dissecting with the precision of a surgeon’s knife until they kept walking.
Yeahhh, you best keep walking.
“There’s a fair across the street and over the hill.”
“That hill?” I don’t like going there unless I’m feeling brave.
“Yeah, just over and around the abandoned building.”
We’ve poked around there many times, Michael and I. We look for good sticks to use for our canes. Hobble and wobble along the broken concrete and shake it at each other. Sometimes we wake up the bums who sleep under cardboard boxes pushed against the crumbling earth. Not on purpose.
Sometimes we wake up the skinny women but they always go back to sleep when they see it’s just us.
“I’ll take you,” Chico offers.
I want to go to a fair. I can’t remember going, ever.
Except last year, around Christmas. The firemen took us to Knotts Berry Farm. We rode on a Ferris Wheel and petted animals and ate cotton candy that melted so fast in your mouth, I kept grabbing more. My warm, thirsty tongue could melt a giant, pink, fluffy ball in a second. The cops gave us baseball cards. We ran to their cars, crowding them, pushing against the metal, “More Dodger cards!” More Dodger cards!” we chanted and danced, our skinny arms pumping in the air, our street worn feet running in place. They high fived and laughed and they were so happy with us they came back with real, wrapped, Christmas presents. That, that, was a great Christmas.
“Let me go get Lili, she’s right inside, esperame.”
“NO. Hmmm. No, I only have enough money for two tickets,” Chico explains, holding up two chubby fingers.
“Why are you taking me then for?!” I want to yell. But I just stare at his stubby fingers. A fair, a fair, I want to go shoot at a clown and get a big fluffy Teddy Bear, so, so, big he can’t fit inside my door. I want to feel a pillow of pink inside my mouth turn into a tiny pebble. Not cotton balls, I tried those dipped in sugar but they just tasted dry and it took my mom for-eeeeever to get it out of my mouth.
I take Chico’s warm, sweaty hand and look up at him, making sure he’s not playing another mean joke.
We cross the street, he lets go my hand. I have to keep holding on to the long strands of dead grass every time my shoes slip. He’s ahead of me and I see him walk towards tall shadows. Not soft and clumsy like him. Tall lines with more lines poking out, no roundness.
I look up to the sky, so baby blue. There’s a bird, he’s telling me to forget. To sleep.
And I never remember the fair. I never remember what happens next. So don’t ask.