So I make my way home, doing what I usually do when I’m not occupied enough. I start thinking too much. Aimlessly, then specifically, I imagine a hundred conversations that I may or may not ever have. I have a hard time avoiding it. When I’m on the bus, I might read a book. It can’t be too good though, or else the rest of the world will melt away, along with my chance to get home. I’ve learned first hand the full set of stops of several bus routes this way, haha. The speaker in the bus hardly ever works right though, so I mostly know the stops by their nearby landmarks. The pink and white house with sharpened gates. The dilapidated business that hasn’t seen maintenance in years, but it’s one of the few places that sell clothes that fit me. Burger Kings 1, 2, and 3. I know them by the shape of their parking lots. The area in my mental map that I can never seem to fill for some reason, no matter how many times I pass by it. Today’s not one of those days, though. I get to my stop just fine though, because thinking about my mortality has a way of keeping me awake.
I imagine a call from this person that calls herself Doña Pantalla.
“Good evening,” she’d say, in a mysterious and raspy voice. “Are you the young lady that played fetch with a car?”
“Why, yes I am. No need to ask if I’m okay of course, I’m quite fine,” I’d say (no I wouldn’t).
“I need you to do me a favor,” she’d say, stretching out the ’e’ in ’need’ in order to emphasize the importance of it. (That seems needlessly dramatic, I doubt she’d say it that way.)
“For you? Anything,” I’d respond, in my most charming tone. (You certainly would not. You’re just quoting movie lines for fun.)
My daydream cuts to a scene with Doña Pantalla, an older lady holding a set of keys, standing in front of a line of designer cars, all built within the last decade. “Would you mind taking these for a walk?” she asks politely, eyebrow raised. I kill the daydream and laugh. That’s ridiculous. I don’t think that’s even remotely what’s going to happen, but it’s fun to imagine.
I get home and Josemarie greets me with a great big hug. “Rami!!” she exclaims. I give her a hug back and walk inside. Iris is cooking, cutting up some plantains to fry. She stops briefly to wave and say a friendly hello, then focuses her attention back on her meal. I reheat the rice and chicken I made earlier in the week and sit at the small table tucked in next to the entrance. I’m halfway through the meal when I hear the landline phone ring. I freeze. Already? That’s not her, is it? How could she know where I live? What would she want from me, anyway? I’m not special. Hell, I barely stay alive. Before I can get my legs to just go answer the damn phone and have my answer, Josemarie picks up the phone.
“Hello! Who am I speaking with?” she says in her peppy customer voice.
“Oh hello, Mr. Tirado! How are you?” she answers, immediately breaking out of her customer voice into a genuine tone. Phew? I’m relieved it’s not Doña Pantalla, but...oh I hope dad doesn’t press me about my future again. I know he’s just worried about me. I just...don’t like talking about it.
“Yes, she’s here. Hold on.” Josemarie hands me the phone and goes back to eating the sandwich she made on the couch.
“Ramicia?” my dad asks.
“Hi dad, what’s up?” I respond after swallowing some of my food.
“Nothing much, just wanted to see how you’re doing.”
“It’s been an eventful day, actually. Nearly got run over by a car.” Josemarie coughs and tries not to choke on her sandwich while looking at me wide eyed. Iris’s gaze snaps over to me also looking very concerned. They look at each other briefly, then at me.
“Oh my god Ramicia, are you okay? Are you hurt? What happened?” my dad says, startled.
“It’s fine, I played fetch with it and Laura from Percussive Maintenance took care of it. I’m not hurt or anything,” I say, distractedly.
Josemarie gives me hand motions that say “you. me. later.” Iris nods.
“You..I’m sorry...you played fetch with it?” he asks, confused.
“Yeah, I think it got mixed up with a virtual pet or something. How are you and mom?”
“Oh. Uh you know, busy as always. One of the air conditioning units at home finally gave out, so we’ll have to get that sorted out,” he says. “How’s Mallorca’s?”
I tense up. Don’t do it, dad. “Same as always, really. Sergio’s good to me, business is doing well, and I get to help out here and there,” I respond, trying to think of how to change the subject.
“That’s good to hear, I’m glad. Have you been doing alright? I mean, with your depression and all that. Are you managing alright, would you like us to bring over some food or something, or pick you up to spend some time at home?”
I smile, relieved. “No, I’m doing alright for now, thank you.”
“Okay. Well, I don’t want to take up anymore of your time. I’m sure you have other things you need to get to, but I just wanted to call and see how you were doing. Come see us some time if you can, alright? We love you and we miss you.”
“I’ll let you know. Love you too, Dad.” I hang up and put down the phone. I start to feel a little better. It doesn’t always go well, but I do appareciate that they call me. It’s nice to have someone check on you and see how you’re doing.
“Well, are you just going to keep us hanging or what?” Iris asks me.
“Oh yeah. Yeah, I’ll tell you what happened.” So I tell my roommates about the haunted car and we chat and hang out for a while, and then head to bed.Next