Your little hands are folded over your plump short legs, your feet flat on the ground; you sit on the concrete steps outside our room with your inquisitive face tilted up towards the sky. Your eyes stare off into the distance, past the rusted chicken wire thrown on the ground, past the tree that bends against the neighbor’s chain link fence, past the abandoned cars left on the hillside… Past all the decay that dominates our view- what do your little eyes see?
The sizzle of the hot oil in the pan makes you turn and your chubby cheeks ride high on your face as you smile at me when you catch my eye. I throw another taquito de papa into the pan and you giggle at the hiss that follows. You stand and smooth over your pink, orange, and white polka dot sun dress and steady yourself against the doorway as you lift your small leg over the entrance.
“Mami? Esta bien?” I look down at you and see your concerned face. How can an infant know that something is wrong? You have only been on this earth for a few months and you have been able to pick up on the sadness that hangs from my face.
“Claro que estoy bien mi amor.”
“Comer mami?” I motion for you to stay away from the stove but quickly lift you up in my arms when I see your eyes sadden. You point at the taquitos inside the pan, and inhale the delicious smell of the tortilla, quezo fresco and papas being fried.
I hold you tight in my arms and kiss you; trying to erase any of my sadness that has touched you.
“Lets rub noses! Like the Eskimoses!” You smile and kiss my cheek as I sit you down to eat on your highchair.
I stretch my aching back and look around at the small room: the sofa and kitchen table three feet from each other, the refrigerator, stove, and your high chair competing for the remaining scarce space, and down to my swelling belly that grows with impatience.