The youngest of us has grown fangs and claws and his licorice pupils are dry from staring. We should care more, but our own ribs are poking into our bony arms. We huddle together in somber silence. We’ve been told to stay at home—no roof games or playing with the pigeons.
Papa was a baker. He stole husks of bread before he got busted. Now he’s out hustling on the streets. Mother we haven’t seen but in an old photograph where her chin is tilted toward the moon.
Below this apartment building, the air is rotten with taxi cab car horns. Someone called it the greatest city in the world, and perhaps this is true, but we are becoming carcasses and I am running out of excuses.
Selma wants to know why we don’t go to school like other kids. Rico wants to know if magic really works. I say I don’t know to Selma and to Rico I say, “Sure it does, let me show you.”
A punch to the gut shuts him up. Little Rico thinks I’m being cruel, but I’m just finding ways to distract him from the hunger pains.
Our room is so small that I can hear Selma saying The Lord’s Prayer. We get free rent if Papa does some things for Manuel, the Super. It beats being on the street.
I saw a sign once: ‘Home is where the heart is.’ I think I know what the author meant. I hope I do.