A woman comes on a hot August night. Grandpa and I sit on the frontporch watching traffic and sipping steaming hot espressos. She carries a boy in blue shorts, white shirt, blue three button jacket, knotted blue tie and topped with a blue hat. Her dark, mid-calf skits seem heavy in this heat. Her walk and clothing tell me she’s not from our neighborhood or any other I know. Her long, thick, black hair hangs loosely about her shoulders, not done up or held back with pins the Sicilian way. Her makeup is also thick and rich. A strap over her shoulder supports a large, beaded purse which hangs like some kind of bladder.
Grandpa smiles and nods as she walks past. She stops at our gate and opens it without asking, as if it’s her own.
On the porch her steps are so light the floor doesn’t creak and I can tell from the sound she wears expensive shoes.
She talks in whispers and holds the boy out to Grandpa.
The boy is no older than me.
The woman puts him down. She pushes him at Grandpa.
Grandpa shakes his head and steers the boy back to the woman.
I come over and ask if the boy wants to play with me in the garden.
He pulls back into the woman’s skirts.
Grandpa puts his hand on my shoulder, a warning. I look up at him. He stares at me wide-eyed and shakes his head, no, pursing his lips.
Pain. Raw pain. Pain of an animal in a trap gnawing its own leg to be free.
I cry, my body, my bones, my joints on fire.
Such pain. How can he stand?
Grandpa yells — it is the only time I hear him raise his voice in alarm — and pulls me back. His four-bodies come together, between me and the boy, falling like thunder.
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