Ronnie glances up, but says nothing in return. Grandmother muses at his overly quiet behavior as he sits on the porch and plays with a collection of broken Popsicle sticks. It troubles her that the child acts so subdued, almost as if he understands the grave predicament facing the family.
Turning her head slightly to catch the hint of a breeze, Elizabeth thinks what a welcome relief it is to be outside, away from the swollen, musty plaster, slopped over broken lath, that makes up the interior walls of the ramshackle old house. Out of sight of her daughter, she touches the rosary beads in her apron pocket for some much-needed strength. The insufferable summer heat relentlessly pulsates on the tin roof, turning the indoors into an oven. What a miracle it would be to get some rain; but there’s no sign of any. Elizabeth squints through the heat waves rising from the street into the cloudless sky. It’s well past time for the mailman, so there’ll be no money either, at least for another day. As she turns and opens the old fashioned icebox, she picks up the ice pick and breaks up the last of the nearly melted block of ice. With the ice gone, there’ll be no keeping things cold, but that’s okay—there’s noth- ing in the icebox anyway. Elizabeth mentally inventories their entire food supply: two cans of string beans, one can of red beans, half a loaf of bread, and a package of purple drink mix. She hopes tomorrow her widow’s pension check will come. It’s actually only a fraction of what it costs to survive from month to month, but she’s convinced it’s how she has supported herself and her two children since her husband died in a construction accident twenty years earlier.
Elizabeth sighs as she thinks of how much she misses the Bronx. Baseball games just don’t seem as alive somehow since she began living nearly 3,000 miles from her beloved Yankees. She wonders how long she will have to remain in this unfamiliar place. She willingly made the trip to California to help her daughter in her time of need; still, she feels homesick for the sights and sounds of New York.
Her yearning for New York stops when she remembers the bus trip to Redlands a month ago. Maybe, she muses, she could just put off going home until fall. It won’t be so hot then. Besides, going back she won’t have to tend Ronnie along the way like she did on the bus coming out from the East. He’ll be staying here in California with his mother. Taking care of Ronnie for four months while her daughter settled in California was no problem, of course. Ronnie is almost too perfect, acting mature far beyond his few years. Suddenly she has to chuckle as she thinks of this new baby being so long overdue. For sure, no one is going to rush its coming. “Stubborn little thing,” the old woman mutters as she reenters the house.
(P.g. 6-7) To be continued……
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