Lake Overturn

Lake Overturn by Vestal McIntyre

Book: Lake Overturn by Vestal McIntyre Read Free Book Online
Authors: Vestal McIntyre
Spanish, even. Lina had been numb and dry-eyed when they took him. It would be weeks before she broke down and cried, months before she visited, much longer before she looked the boy in the eye. She was poor back then. She ate stale bread from the day-old outlet and bought gas two or three dollars’ worth at a time. She couldn’t have given Jesús what he needed.
    Lina climbed the stairs and walked down the softly carpeted hall. She was tempted to go into the Halls’ bedroom for a moment, just to be where he had kissed her, but before she decided whether or not she would, the door opened and someone stepped out.
    Lina jumped.
    It was Sandra. “Lina,” she said, “sorry to startle you. I heard the doorbell ring and I knew it was you. I figured you would let yourself in.”
    “Oh, it’s okay,” Lina said.
    Sandra had a tired look around her eyes, as if she had just awakened from a nap. At the same time, though, her face looked strangely drawn-on, her eyebrows very arched, as if she had just made herself up to go out.
    “Well,” Sandra said, “I’ll try not to be in your way.”
    She walked slowly past Lina, down to the parlor.
    Lina went to Abby’s room and began to dust. Usually Sandra greeted her brightly and gave her a little hunched-shouldered hug that Lina never resisted, but certainly never enjoyed. The two women would not put their arms all the way around each other, but just to each other’s backs. Lina could feel the ridges of Sandra’s shoulder blades and, at the same time, was aware that Sandra could feel her soft rolls. Lina would have preferred a handshake.
    Damas . That’s what Lina’s mother had called white women. She said it sharply, pushing the word to the front of her mouth, while mujeres , her word for Mexican women, sat comfortably in the back.
    But Sandra hadn’t given her a hug today. Was she tired? Or did she know?
    Lina dusted the upstairs bedrooms, the downstairs living rooms (Sandra had either slipped back upstairs at some point, or left), and, since she hadn’t last time, the basement. Here, in the dimness, she simply ran a feather duster over shelf after shelf of toy trains: engines, cabooses, cars loaded with tiny logs, cars loaded with coal, cars painted with the flowery logos of old-fashioned companies. Boxes of track, too, and railroad crossings. Trees, houses; even, in a big box, a pond.
    “Don’t use Pledge down here,” Sandra had said while giving her the introductory tour. “These boxes are very valuable. Just use a feather duster.” She said this loudly, and made a feather-dusting motion to make her meaning clear. As if Lina didn’t speak English.
    The first years, Lina would wonder, as she dusted the boxes, how much were they really worth? If you sold them, how much money would you get? Enough to make a down payment on a doublewide? But then Lina had saved her money and gotten a doublewide, and now she was tired of wondering about the worth of Mr. Hall’s trains.
    The maglev train, they call it. Magnetic levitation. They don’t have wheels.
    Lina smiled. What a weirdo.
    She went to the broom closet, got the vacuum, and took it up to Abby’s room. After she had been vacuuming for a few minutes, in the corner of her eye she saw Sandra, who stood in the doorway waving apologetically in an apparent attempt to avoid startling her again. With her toe, Lina pushed the button to turn off the machine.
    “I’m sorry, Lina. I have a little headache,” she said. “Would you mind not vacuuming?”
    “Sure, Sandra.”
    Sandra returned to her room.
    Lina yanked the cord from the wall and began to coil it. For some reason she did mind. If you want to get me out of here early , she thought to herself, fine! You still have to pay me the same.
    Lina brooded as she mopped. Sandra knew. She would call sometime in the next two weeks and tell Lina not to come back. She’d make up some lie, We need to cut costs , or whatever, but it was because Lina had kissed her husband.

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