I hop up the wooden steps, my summer feet too tough for splinters, and slip through the back porch and plop down next to Manny on the wicker. Somewhere beans simmer in cast iron. Abuelita‘s face is dark skin folds.
She is Manny’s grandma, not mine. But I’ve sort of adopted her. Her iced cinnamon coffee wobbles in her hand as she heads for us. She always wears a black dress and these thick black shoes that clunk on the hollow floor. She sits down facing us and eases the glass onto the ledge and lets out a sigh.
Then she pats her knees and leans back like she’s going to sing-song one of her tales about funny people, the earth and the sky, animals that talk, and even witches, brujas, as Manny squeezes the sounds into English for me. There is always a lesson for us.
I wait, staring out at a world gone soft through old screens. Under that cinnamon coffee breath she has this old lady purplish smell. But the way Abuelita’s mouth scrunches, I’m figuring our b.o. must be pretty funky after all we had just done. There is not tale.
Instead, she stares at her Manny and then back at me. She’s wondering, finally, whether she wants her mijo hanging out with this freckled bandito.