He sat on the steps with his head in his hands, lip fat and pouty, eyes red but no tear marks, yet. His chin shrunk together, quivering, hoping that that little moan he had in the back of his throat wouldn’t escape. His knees touched, his elbows rested on his thighs, like one of those old photographs or paintings from the 60s. All that was missing was an ice cream man coming to save the day.
His parents inside argued. His mother raced around the house, picking up after Andrew, his sister Sarai and their father. She waved a dish towel around as she ranted, Andrew’s father following closely after her, close enough to grab her by the arms and stop her, but he didn’t. “Just leave me alone,” she yelled. “Leave me alone.”
His father backed away, “Fine,” he said putting up his hands, his t-shirt soaked with sweat, beads of prespiration sat on his forehead. He crossed his arms and put his left hand up to his upper lip, cleaning away the sweat with his finger. “I’ll leave you alone. Hopefully, you’ll cool down and we’ll be able to talk about this later.” The air conditioner was broken again, the flies flew in through the back door bringing in the scorching heat and humidity along with them.
He turned to walk away, and she said, “I don’t want to talk about this later.” She scrubbed the dishes hard. “I don’t want to talk about this ever again,” she emphasized with a jerk of her head. Her hair was up in a pony tail and her v-neck blouse was too, blotched with sweat around her underarms and breasts. “Take the kids out for a walk,” she told him. “Andrew’s outside.”
Andrew could hear his father’s beat up shoes coming for him and he knew what question was coming. When he heard the shoes get close enough, he said, “She’s under my bed,” to buy himself more time to clear away the tears that finally left their tracks on his cheeks. His father turned around and headed to Andrew’s room. Under the bed, Sarai was curled up with a worn out stuffed kitten, that used to be white, and wore a purple pajama. She didn’t cry anymore, but she just didn’t want to be around the fighting. “Where are we going this time?” she asked her father as he peeked his head under the dark blue skirt of the bed. He reached his calloused hand under to help her out. “Well,” he sighed, “there’s always icecream, raspados, or that new juice place they opened around the corner. Let’s go see what Andres wants.”
By the time his father and little sister came out, the older brother stood against the house, one leg up, looking tough, even though he was only 12. “Where do you want to go, Andres?” asked Sarai. “Oh, I don’t care. I don’t even want anything,” he responded. And the three walked down the block.