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You know that smell like dead flowers in old water on a shelf with pretty ones that still smell sweet and haven’t died yet? The kind of smell when different potions mix together and make that strange sour from all the women and men who pour scents from colored bottles. Like that old woman who walks by the laundromat pushing her broken cart with squeaky wheels with colored sashes tied on the sides, with perfume older than she is that she found on the road that drifts along behind her so heavy it hangs in the air reminding you of that time in grade school when the teacher would lean real close and that funny smell would dangle like her ruined broach, and you didn’t wrinkle your nose but didn’t like it and can remember that smell to this very day. It’s like that here. Heavy, crushing, coloring the air.

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, papers move and never go anywhere. Back and forth and the phone rings. Non stop. Like it’s part of that busy downtown place you see in all the movies with the people that crowd together like starving cows and push and shove, yelling and crying and screaming for five minutes about numbers and points and selling and money. The fat lady behind the desk answers in English switching to Spanish and back to English, laughs and smiles that fake forced smile, like she cares what the person on the other end of the phone is saying. She talks and talks and the phone keeps ringing even though she’s talking on that phone and she says something real fast and then starts talking all over again like she didn’t just ask who was calling.

The little blue chair squeaks if I move side to side but not if my leg goes up and down. I’m waiting, my back against the block wall, my leg jumping in place, like its nervous, like it wants to go somewhere else but can’t because it’s bound by the prison of flesh. Waiting for my name to be called by that fat lady who doesn’t even know my name, who has to look at that sticky flower paper with the corner folded over where my name is scribbled by that woman that I’m waiting to see.

Small mouth, big nose, wide head, too busy to look up from her desk. Round face, almond eyes, dark from use, staring at a spot above my head when she glances at me. Hair slick, shiny, thick and curly, plush like your favorite stuffed animal but don’t touch it. Cold, proud, her people, my people, her words, my words, her color, my color, hers and mine. She listens, writes, reads and stares past me as if she had somewhere else to be, her people to talk to, her people to listen to.

In the hallway littered with crumpled papers, the walls painted with weird letters and symbols that Marilou says stands for different people. Lockers once yellow, now peeling in long strips and carvings that say Grisel Perez y Marcelo Santiago por siempre, te amo and big block symbols that I don’t understand. Pants hanging from butts and cinched with cheap Wal-Mart belts around los boxers. My locker decorated with red white and green paint next to Marilou’s with pictures of Che taped inside.

Ella camina comico. Marilou laughing, gap toothed and wide smile, glancing at me from the corner of her slanted eyes. She shakes her head, a long mane flowing like the proud race horse at the track and nods at me before saying something too fast for me to try to understand. Later she will translate, later she will tell me what they said, what she said, but now I smile, forced, lips pulled tight across my teeth, stretching, hiding.

Changes, like sweet summers in San Antonio for cold whispers over pavement in Chicago. My Dad, under the slanted leaking roof of that battered shack we call home, across the broken street where Marilou stays with her tiå after school. In that neighborhood that Marilou says my kind left long ago. Me, walking, behind Marilou and those girls that call me gabacha, trailing like that starving dog, so bony you can count the ribs, that follows the old woman with her shopping cart. Calls from the corners by men too dark to see at night, ¡Ay ay ay que dolor Rosita amor de la mi vida! My skin reflecting light, like the beacon calling the ships to the shore, calling the attention of street vendors, those loose pant boys, the dark skinned Chicanas. Differences too big to overlook, the sun waging war, my skin fierce from fighting, spots as dark as Marilou, like the cheetah, but angrier and collecting more.

And me, my head down on blistering walks home, staring at rocks that move under my feet, glancing towards them as they move farther, faster away. Old lady resting her bones on a battered bench, her cart nearby, watching with squinted, wrinkled eyes.

Days pass in that slanted patched roof, with it’s cracked door and crumbling life. Across that broken road, a twisted dividing line, next to the grease stained parking lot overgrown with grass that escaped the drowning grasp of old pavement. Days that change but remain the same. Puffed up chests, noses pointing to the sun, words that can never hurt me, and more paint, bright blue. Grisel te amo Pedro written above my locker now. Green, white and red and Che looking on. And me, waiting in that stale room, old blue chairs and phones ringing, her with her proud heritage and views of my world, my people that she hates so much but wants so much from. And me, just waiting, wishing I could change.

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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

Downloads: 1542

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