The Passed Note Issue 4 June 2017 - Page 19

Katie is our younger sister. She’s ten.

“You weren’t here the last time. But Marisol said she’d say hi for us.”

“Well, she didn’t say nothing. Your mom is just out back, reading her book.”

“How is she?” I asked.

“She’s the same, honey,” Eugenia still had her arm around my shoulder and she gave me a squeeze. “She’s content. She’s happy. We’re taking good care of her.”

“Okay, well, I guess we’ll go say hi.”

“You do that. I’m gonna come call her for dinner in about an hour, okay?”

We said thanks and started down the hallway that leads to the patio out back. Mom is usually out there when it’s sunny. It’s a barren little spot, a rectangle of concrete with a ribbon of flower garden at the far end, marked off by a chain link fence that looks across the street to a Bodega and an auto body shop. Mom was the only person on the patio, sitting at one of those glass-topped patio tables with a gigantic umbrella. She’s careful not to get too much sun because she’s a redhead and she burns in, like, five seconds.

The disconcerting thing about my mom is how normal she seems when she’s just doing her thing. She was wearing sunglasses, shorts and a tank top, and she had a book open, face down on the table. She was sitting there contentedly, watching the men in the auto shop wind down over a few beers, brassy pop music blaring from one of the car stereos.

We slid open the glass door that led out onto the patio and said hi as cheerfully as we could. My mom turned towards us and smiled. She had no idea who we were. It makes my heart hurt every time.