Lost in the City: Tree of Desire and Serafin

Read Lost in the City: Tree of Desire and Serafin for Free Online

Book: Read Lost in the City: Tree of Desire and Serafin for Free Online
Authors: Ignacio Solares
brother also wanted to?” and she looked at Joaquín, who turned shy and hid his head behind his sister’s shoulder.
    â€œNo, he didn’t want to, but later he will.”
    â€œHow come you’re so sure?”
    â€œBecause I know.”
    â€œDid your parents beat you much?”
    â€œNo, they never beat us.”
    â€œThen, what’s the problem?”
    â€œSometimes . . . they yelled.”
    â€œWas that all?”
    â€œYes.”
    The woman laughed loudly, exposing shriveled, pale pink gums.
    â€œStupid brat.”
    Another loud laugh. She shivered as if she had a fever. Some withered flowers fell off her head like off a tree being shaken.
    â€œSo you’re going to support this little boy?”
    â€œYes, I’m going to look for a job.”
    â€œHow old are you?”
    Cristina’s cheeks reddened.
    â€œTen . . . but I’m going on eleven,” she said, looking down.
    â€œIf I were ten and had parents like yours, do you know what Iwould do?” and she came closer again, holding her head on one side, as if she saw only with one eye. “I’d lie in my bed with a cat, eating chocolates. Do you like cats?”
    Joaquín’s eyes lighted up when he heard the word cat .
    â€œMy brother adores them,” Cristina explained. “He lost his.”
    â€œI love cats,” the woman said, holding out a bony hand toward Joaquín. “I take all the cats I find to my house. Wouldn’t you like to sleep with a cat, child?”
    Joaquín nodded his head, opening his eyes even wider.
    Cristina was afraid, but let herself be guided through the vacant streets. Anyway, any place was better than a bench in the park. The night was clear and blue with a moon like a streetlight that made tall shadows: a woman bent over her broomstick and Cristina and Joaquín hand in hand.

9
    The woman stopped at some piles of garbage to look for food.
    â€œYou can always find something here,” she said.
    Next to the metal door of what appeared to be a taco stand, she drove off a dog with her stick and found some bits of meat among greasy papers and empty beer bottles. Cristina felt nausea when she saw her chew on a bone until it was clean.
    â€œDo you want some?” she asked, holding it up and smiling at them.
    Cristina shook her head and moved her brother a little farther away.
    â€œHave you already had supper?”
    Cristina explained they had bought some ears of corn and almost a whole one was left over for Joaquín’s breakfast. The woman left the garbage and wanted to see it. Cristina took it out of her purse and held it up without removing the handkerchief, but the woman grabbed it, threw the handkerchief on the ground, and began to eat it avidly.
    â€œHey, that’s my brother’s.”
    â€œBah, we’ll get something else tomorrow.”
    Cristina resigned herself. There was nothing else to do. Sheadded the cost of the corn to the lost pesos and decided not to say anything to the woman about the money she was carrying. She kept on walking.
    â€œWhat kind of job do you have?”
    â€œI don’t need one,” the woman said. “From time to time some money falls into this little pouch,” as she pointed to the bulky pocket of her dress. “But in this lousy neighborhood everybody knows me, and they don’t want to give me anything. Also, they’re poor. So I go to the rich neighborhoods. I spend a while in one and when they get tired of me, I look for another. Although some days I don’t get enough for the bus and have to walk back.”
    Joaquín was falling asleep and held up his arms to ask his sister to carry him. But with only a hard look from her, he resigned himself and even walked faster, very serious. Cristina was astonished.
    â€œIs it much farther, Señora?”
    â€œNo, we’re almost there. And don’t call me Señora . . . I hate Señoras. Call me

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