Book Family

After Willie Perdomo

He noticed my bookshelf stuffed with books and the floor with the overflow of more. He enjoys my talks about the fields filled with lemons and oranges. He wanted to know how my library was formed. He always wanted to know where I was from.

I told him of the small town many people pass on the freeway. A town as small as a pin where each person is stitched together by family strings.

The walks from school to my grandmother’s home every day after school. The stops at the corner store for a bright red slushie and a sour pickle. The change clinked together in my uniform pocket. The afternoons of chasing after the paleto and elote men for a chance to have a treat. The sunset hitting our backs as we snuck ripe oranges from branches for breakfast the next morning, and lemons for the caldo de res that night. The last days of being in the little town and the swift goodbyes.

Then, I told him of the current city. The city with women on the corners, gunshots being heard through the windows and the drugs people passed to young hands.

I was from the house with a father in one room and a mother in the other. Broken glass lined the hallways and my parents’ screams banged against mine and my siblings’ doors.
My mother packing weekend bags for my young brothers. The car tires screeching on the pavement. My sister telling my father that I wouldn’t stop beating at the mattress.

I told him I was from two momentary homes before meeting him. I told him I was from days in my own room. Music flooding in, blocking out the rants of my mother declaring my father was as useful as a broken stove.

I told him I was from the days of venturing into different places from the pages of a book. The ink scent soothed my tense muscles. The familiar worn pages brushed my skin like fresh warm blankets out of the dryer.

I told him I was from the home where “I love you” wasn’t said and never asking for things was the unspoken rule.

I told him I was from a home where books became family while the real family cowered and avoided each other from different parts of the city and towns.

He wanted to know where I was from. I told him and he still decided to stay.

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