Copyright, 2012 Kevin R. Hill
Sometimes my mother makes me speak French and says I’m really good at it. I’m better than my little brother, Bobby. He’s a snot nose. But when we’re down here in Puerto Caribe we have to learn Spanish, and already I can say a lot of things like hello, good morning, and how are you. It’s a really easy language and I think I’ll always smell sun tan lotion when I speak it because my mom is always rubbing it on me while teaching me new words. It’s my lotion language. I’m so quick my mom calls me her special girl.
Mexico is so much better than Canada because we can run everywhere in bare feet and shorts and the ocean is no farther than a spit from our house, if you call it a house. My dad calls it a hut and swears there’s a rat living in our palm leaf roof, so Bobby stayed up all night with a big stick just waiting for that rat to come out so he could whack it all the way back to the jungle.
I think my dad is right. There isn’t even glass in the windows to keep out the wind, just a green mosquito net that he tried to cover with some plastic, but my mom got angry because it kept the air out and made the house feel like a furnace. I think that’s why my dad went back to Canada. He just didn’t like the geckos running around the walls and screaming at night. Nope, he said they sounded like an old woman laughing and he just couldn’t get used to eating tortillas either. He wanted good old Canadian bread from his favorite bakery. Bobby and me hid inside the bathroom one night and listened to them talking about going back to Canada. He talked a lot about my mother’s new friend too. He just hates Maria and doesn’t want her around. I had to explain a lot of what they said to Bobb because I’m his big sister and mom and dad both told me to watch out for him.
After my dad left Bobby and ran all over town. The streets are really rough here so sometimes we run along the beach all the way into town to buy ice creams or cokes from the market. The sand doesn’t hurt our feet. And when we’re out we always keep some rocks in our pockets because Mexican dogs sneak up on you and you have to have some rocks to throw because if you try to run they’re way faster and bite you on the ankles, and that makes you cry and cry all the way to the doctor.
One day after my dad went back to Canada, Bobby and me we go tired of scrambling ants with our sticks, and Bobby broke his sandal too, so we went in through the gate and walked across the hot concrete walkway up to the house and looked in the window for mom.
I didn’t know a woman could kiss another woman, and I knew that my mom was putting lotion on Maria because Maria didn’t have her top on. Bobby and me watched like it was a movie, and then I pulled Bobby away and took him to the beach. He wanted to dig for crabs, but I made him sit next to me and listen to a story of mom and dad and how they met in that tiny little restaurant back in Canada. Somehow it just didn’t seem right telling about Canada with the log cabins and forests and snow when we were sitting there in the sand and the Caribbean just a jump in front of us, but I made him listen to that whole story that I loved so much, and about how dad was going to come back and take us all away again. He’s my little brother and mom and Dad told me to take care of him, so that’s what I do.