Home > Wait for It(7)

Wait for It(7)
Author: Mariana Zapata


I took my time walking back. The adrenaline pumping through me had disappeared, and I was tired. I picked up Josh’s bat off the lawn and crossed the street, wondering what the hell that had all been about but knowing my chances of finding out were slim to none. As I made it to my lawn, I zeroed in on a short, skinny figure standing behind the screen front door in just a T-shirt that was a size too small and underwear, his hands were on his hips.

“Lou? What the fu—dge are you doing?” I snapped, raising my hands at my sides.

The smile that came over his face said he knew exactly what I’d been on the verge of saying, and I wasn’t surprised. Of course he knew. My brother had thrown around the word “fuck” like it was the name of his imaginary third kid. Not for the first time, I remembered my parents had never complained to him about how he needed to stop saying certain words in front of the kids. Huh.

“I didn’t know where you went, Buttercup,” he explained innocently, pushing the door open as he used his nickname for me.

And just like that, my irritation at him for staying up crumbled into a thousand pieces. I was such a sucker. I opened the screen door fully and bent to pick him up. He was getting bigger every day, and it was only a matter of time before he said he was too old to be carried. I didn’t want to think about it too much or anticipate it, because I was sure I’d end up locking myself in the bathroom with a bottle of wine, snotting everywhere.

Bouncing him in my arms, I pecked his temple. “I went to make sure the neighbor was okay. Let’s go to sleep, all right?”

He nodded against my mouth, already a mostly limp weight. “Is he okay?”

“He’s going to be okay,” I answered, fully aware that was a partial lie, but what else could I say? I hope he doesn’t die from internal bleeding, Lou? No. “Let’s go to bed, Goo.”

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

“Diana,” my mom called out from the kitchen as my dad and I maneuvered my flat screen on to the entertainment system he had just finished building with my assistance. My job had mainly consisted of handing him screws, tools, and his bottle of beer. Before that, he’d installed Mac’s giant, human-sized doggy door in the kitchen while I’d sat next to him watching.

I wasn’t the handiest person in the world, and the fact I was exhausted after the last five days didn’t make me the best assistant for building and installing things. Looking back on it, I should have changed the date for when I closed on my house so that it wouldn’t have fallen at almost the same time my job was being relocated. It was a lot more work than I had expected. I was lucky it was summer and the boys were now gone with their other grandparents, the Larsens, for the rest of the week. They’d been picked up the day before, and that, at least, had worked out perfectly since I’d offered to help paint the new salon, which had taken a twelve-hour day with multiple people handling rollers and brushes.

“Si, Ma?” I called out in Spanish as my dad wiggled his eyebrows, raising his hand in a C-shape that he tipped toward his mouth, the universal gesture for wanting a beer. I nodded at the only steady man in my life, purposely ignoring all the lines around his mouth and eyes—all the signs of how much he, like my mom, had aged over the last few years. It wasn’t something I liked to focus too much on.

“Ven. I made some polvorones for you to take your neighbors,” she answered in Spanish in that tone she’d used since I was a little kid that left no room for argument.

I didn’t completely manage to muffle my groan. Why hadn’t I expected this shit? “Mom, I don’t need to take them anything,” I shot back, watching my dad choke back a laugh at what I’m sure was my are-you-kidding-me facial expression.

“Como que no?” What do you mean no?

My mom was old fashioned.

That was an understatement. She was really, really old fashioned and had been my entire life. When I first moved out of the house, you would have figured I’d gotten pregnant at sixteen in the 1930s in Mexico. More than ten years hadn’t dulled her reaction every time she was reminded I didn’t live under her roof anymore. Her values and ideals were no damn joke.

She would be the only person moving into a new neighborhood that would want to take her neighbors something instead of vice versa. She didn’t seem to understand that most people probably wouldn’t want to eat food from people they didn’t know because everyone assumed there was going to be Anthrax or crack in the ingredients. But even if I told her my reasoning for not wanting to take her treats around, she probably wouldn’t listen anyway. “Its fine, Mamá. I don’t need to take them anything. I already met the people on both sides of me. I told you, remember? They’re really nice.”

“You need to be friends with everyone. You never know when you’ll need something,” my mom kept going, telling me she wasn’t going to let this go until I agreed.

I dropped my head back to look at the television, suddenly getting reminded of being a little kid at her mercy all over again, of all the times she made me do something I really didn’t want to because it was the ‘polite thing.’ It drove me nuts back then, and it drove me nuts now, but nothing had changed. I still couldn’t tell her no.

Out of the corner of my eye, my dad was taking DVDs out of a box to set in the compartments underneath the entertainment center, purposely not getting into the middle of our discussion. Wuss.

“Come get them. They’re better when they’re warm,” she insisted, as if I didn’t know that firsthand.

I blew out a raspberry and swung my gaze up to the ceiling, asking for patience. Lots of it.

“Diana?” Mom called out in that tone I refused to believe I used on Josh and Lou.

For one brief moment, I felt like stomping my feet.

Resigned to the inevitable, I headed to the kitchen. The cupboards were a faded, stained oak, but they were real wood and still in excellent shape. The countertops were tiled and dingy, the grout a shade of color only found on things that had been around before the Vietnam War, but not much worse than the ones at the apartment the boys and I had been living in. Luckily, my dad had already told me he’d help me fix up the kitchen when I was ready, claiming we could do it ourselves with a little help from my uncle. On top of the kitchen remodel, the floors needed some tender loving care and the appliances the owners had left were from the nineties. I wanted to repair and replace those things before I even looked at the cabinets. The fence had seen some shit go down, too. But everything did what it needed to do for the most part, so I’d get to it all eventually. Someday.

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