In the Space Between Two Housing Projects

She lay there, underneath the scraggly bushes, in the space between two housing projects and listened.
“This is where the broker said to meet her?”
“Yeah. Dude, it’s like not safe here.”
“Calm down.”
“We’ll get stabbed.”
“Look, shut up okay?”
“Can we go?”
“Don’t you want to at least see the place?”
“No, I don’t want to live here, I’ll get shot.”
“Jesus, okay, okay.”
The boys left. Good riddance. She didn’t want anyone like that living here. It was people like that that got her uncle mad, and when he was mad he drank, and when he was drunk he got madder. He said it was their fault, everything, from a long time ago. She didn’t exactly agree but she didn’t exactly disagree either. There was some truth there, she thought, but it wasn’t them that made her uncle drink.
Nobody thought she was old enough to think things. She was treated by everyone, by her uncle and her teachers and the boys on the corner like a baby. She was a kid, sure, but she wasn’t dumb. Kids aren’t dumb, she used to tell her mom. Her mom agreed. Kids aren’t dumb, she’d say, and you’re the smartest of them.
She lay in the space between two housing projects and thought about their shapes. Maimed asterisks, each with only four sides. If you combined them they’d be a real one. But there was a rivalry between the kids in the two towers, they pretended they were gangs, the Northies and the Southies, and she knew that it was practice for some of them. For the real thing.
She lay in the space between two housing projects and thought about how hungry she was and how she was sick of her uncle’s “home cooking,” which was what he called the microwave dinners he bought. She missed her mom and the real cooking. The colorful food they used to eat together before everything turned gray and white, the worst colors in the world in her opinion.
She lay there and pictured Sunday coming along faster, like an express train. She wanted to skip all local stops and see her mom already. But there were hours and stops to go before then.


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