It was us those two days.
The first day I leaned against the aluminum mesh of the fence and watched the black uniformed baseballers finish their game against a team I never actually saw. I watched the black pitcher throw, the black catcher catch, the black short stop scoop up a ball and throw it to the black first baseman, a couple of black outfielders field routine fly balls. I watched it all dazed, letting my eyes lose focus, and I thought of you. Then the fence shook with your weight and you were with me. Little you.
Your skin was paler than I remembered, but you aren’t always out in the sun like you were the way I remember you. You’d come from a day working your job, locked in a windowless basement, preparing bodies for funerals, your mass of hair bunched up in that tight bun that always makes you look so regal.
Still leaning on the fence, I feel you punch my arm.
—You still okay with this?
I pop off the fence and smile, sweeping my head in the direction of your place. I’m okay with this everyday. It’s the one thing that I can do for you. And I love J—-. You smile back, that disarming wry smile, knowing that I am thinking your question is a waste of breath, but you don’t care that I’m thinking it because you know it is too. But it’s a matter of form, just like the permanent bruise on my arm where you hit me in greeting. The only way you touch me.
We cross the street and go up to your small townhouse. Your Aunt is there with J—- on her shoulder, waiting for us. She’s probably been watching me watch the baseball game and wanting me to come and take J—- early. Your Aunt pisses me off. She doesn’t like me, she treats you like shit, and the way she infantilizes your daughter drives me mad. Just based on that last fact I should come and sit your daughter as soon as possible, but torturing your Aunt is more fun. She’s a bully. I hate bullies.
—You’re late, D—-.
—Only five minutes. Sorry about that.
—I have to be at work you know?
—I know. Sorry. How was J—-?
—She was an angel, she says with the sickening infantile change in her voice, a tone forced through too much drink and too much cigarette damage.
I just want her to fuck off. I kick off my shoes and carry J—- straight into the living room, leaving the two of you to work it out. Or her to berate you and you to let it slide off your back. I don’t know how you do it, but you do. I wish I had your self control.
I hit the off button on the TV as I plop J—- down, and she’s instantly pissed (something else that happens everyday):
—I ah Gabba Gabba.
—No. No Gabba Gabba. Blocks. It’s time for blocks.
I crawl across the grey carpet, the kind you’d find in a record store, the sort that is easy to clean, the kind cheap landlords love, and I pull over her tub of blocks. They’ve not been touched since I was here the day before. J—- is still standing, so she pats me on the back. That little hand pat-pat-patting is the best part of my day. If she was older, say the way you are, she’d punch me on the arm and increase my bruise, but she’s wee, and she pats her affection. I pop the lid and pour the blocks out as you appear beside us, scooping up J—- for a hug and cuddle. You carry her to the couch and pop out your breast as nonchalantly as you would pull a carton of milk from the fridge. J—- latches on and you watch me watch you.
You’ll go for your run as soon as you’re through, and I’ll go back to my parents house, unless you will want me to help you study, but you won’t.
So I’ll see you tomorrow.