Katherine K

New York

72

5

3 Cookies for Breakfast / 2 Neutrality / 1 From Here

Assignment 3 - Tweet length

"Cookies for Breakfast"

There’s no one to tell me not to eat cookies for breakfast anymore, but we set an empty place at the table, and I eat my eggs, and I make no fuss. 

Assignment 2:

"Neutrality"

3 nights. Three nights in a row he skipped out on work - handing out fliers for a nightclub on the streets. He preferred to spend time with me, he said. They didn't always pay him anyway, he said.

He was down to his last 10 euros; I saw it, held in place by a glass on his dresser, the night before.

So I bought us beers in an English pub, they were always open the latest. We were sitting at the bar, he was drawing a makeshift map of Switzerland on the back of a coaster.

"Maybe this is really boring, me asking you about this," I said. "No, I like to tell you about where I'm from," he answered.

 

We walked down to the beach, snaking through the empty streets, stores all closed up, in the yellow glow of the streetlights.

"Let's go down here, I know the way," he said.

"No we can go this way, it's faster," I said.

"You want to be the boss. Fine," he said, annoyed. He only wasn't slurring his words because he was speaking a foreign language, it came out slower anyway.

 

We lay in the sand, it getting into our shoes.

"Let's go swimming." "No." "You want to be the boss."

 

On the bus, he looked straight ahead as he talked, sad anxiety on his face. He didn't know how he was going to pay his rent. He had had a girlfriend, who had gone home to Argentina. "I loved her, I think," he said.

 

"I like you... First I only talked to you because of how you look, so nice. But you're... nice."

I looked at him with playful suspicion, an instinctual response.

 

Late late at night, his phone rang. I don't know how I immediately knew it was her.

He looked away.

 

________________________________________________________________________________________

Assignment 1:

"From Here"

  The Gringo arrived on the second-to-last bus. He left the station without checking when the last bus was. The local kids knew this, because no-one could ever find the bus schedule, in its dusty glass case, without asking.

            The Gringo was walking into the church. We timed him: 46 seconds, approximately 16 seconds longer than average. Inside the church there was only decaying cement and a wooden, crooked cross. No statues or anything. Maybe some candles, depending on the day. Usually the gringos come out still holding a camera in one hand, disappointed.

            Now the Gringo was walking past the pharmacy with its sign out front: “Doctor will see you now on premises.” Past the “Super Internacional” food market, cheap as hell. He walked past the store with racks of t-shirts spilling out onto the sidewalk, he didn’t even do a double-take trying to read any of the “English” ones. My English is pretty good, I watch a lot of “Friends,” so even I know half of those shirts don’t make any sense in English.

            The Gringo had made it down to the end of the block, and was in one of the better taquerías in this crowded side of town. We were sitting across, on the hill behind the church, sharing the end of a can of Coke that was warm by now anyway. He was sitting at a table, rolling up his tacos the wrong way, like they were burritos.

            “Mírale güey,” Carlos said, “When my cousin came down here once she did the same thing. The one from Santa Barbara.”

            “You’ve got to marry her, man. Even if she doesn’t know anything.”

            “Man she’s my cousin.”

            “You’ve met her like once.”

 

            The church had a rusty old bell that rang unevenly, to match its crooked cross. It rang four times. Carlos had to go home so we split up; I went with him because his house is closer, and his abuelita is nicer than the other abuelitas. Sometimes I even liked going just to be super-polite to her, the way you only were in other people’s homes.

 

            When I got back the Gringo was walking toward the bus station, right on Gringo schedule, like they all have the same Gringo internal-clock. But he slowed, he turned, at the open painted-cement doorway of the church. He had something in his hands. Colorful. A little bunch of flowers, nice ones. God knows where he got them, definitely not from “Super Internacional.”

 

            The sky was clear blue, but the air smelled like maybe it was going to rain.

            I decided I didn’t want to go back to the bus station and play “Watch Gringo realize there is no bus back home today.” Carlos wasn’t back yet anyway.

 

            So instead I went over and into the church and asked him – my English is pretty good – what I hope someone will one day have occasion to ask me:

            “You’re not from here, are you?”

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