You were chasing Nicholas, a ten year old boy, whose skin was raw from being pumice-scrubbed twice daily by his mother. Driven manic depressive, your mother said, from her stint as a whore.
At dusk, mosquitoes materialise from under plant fronds and old discarded rubber tires, and you come home splattered with bites that make your mother worry about dengue. But this was not something you bothered with as you cut across Nicholas’s backyard, circled the community playground where rust gnawed at the swings and slides, climbed the small hill behind an abandoned warehouse, and then ran back up your street.
You caught up with Nicholas outside Mrs Chau’s shop where you pummelled him with your small efficient fists until he screamed. Mrs Chau came out, pulled you off him, and threatened to call your mother. You didn’t tell her he started it when he called you a coconut.
No one’s explained why you look the way you do: street-urchin morena with dark eyes too big for your face and a jaw that made you come across as disagreeable. Your mother is pale skinned with a small oval face and eyes that tilt slightly up at the corners, which made her look as if she was on the verge of a laugh except you knew she rarely did.
Then perhaps sensing his moment, Nicholas looked up at Mrs Chau and said it’s true, isn’t it, what they say, she’s adopted. You let loose a string of carpintero curse words and threatened to use his mother’s pumice stone on his testicles. He called you a bruja. This you didn’t mind.
Photo credit: Creative Commons/D Sharon Pruitt