The next morning I woke up early and went for my jog around the neighborhood. The house I rented for me and my parents was just outside of the airport. All day long it was nothing but the unrelenting sun and the sound of airplanes. Dust coated everything¸ and I was convinced if anyone did a scan of my lungs they’d find a sandcastle in there. But it was cheap and cheap was all I could afford. Plus, we did have a lot of privacy which was great for when my father had one of his episodes, and the house was big enough so that there was a bedroom for each of us. That was more than we had when I was growing up.
I usually jogged just after dawn when the air was still relatively cool. After my shower I got breakfast ready and woke my parents. I was lucky that most mornings my father was still my father. He knew my name, he knew where we were, and he smoked his pipe with his left hand. It was during the day that he would falter. If I wasn’t home, like I hadn’t been yesterday, my mother had to deal with it all by herself. Her blindness wasn’t even a disability at that point since she knew quite well how to handle herself. I just knew how hard it was to have to control Papa, to calm him, to make him understand he was loved and with loved ones. One day I could afford a nurse to take care of him, but that day always seemed so far away.
That morning I made breakfast with my special fried potatoes and peppers with goat cheese that I only brought out on special occasions, and brought the breakfast with a gardenia in a vase to my mother. She wouldn’t see it, but the smell always lifted her spirits. When she and my father were both well fed and well caffeinated, I got in my car, a beat-up old Toyota with windows that didn’t roll up, went out into the town of San Jose del Cabo and bought the Kobo device I’d had my eye on at one of the local pawnshops.
The woman who normally worked there wasn’t on duty, but a young man was, and he tried to jack up the price at the last minute. I tried out what Camila had recommended—smiling more, acting flirty—and even though I felt a bit silly doing it, it actually worked. I got it for a lot less, leaving me enough cash left over to pay the library fees I owed and get a bottle of cheap sparkling wine for my mother.
“You shouldn’t have,” my mother said as I handed the e-reader over to her. Her mouth was set in a stern line, but I could tell from the way she was handling the device, like it was precious gold, that she already loved it more than she could say. She was a proud woman in every sense of the word, and if it wasn’t for the empty look in her pupils, you wouldn’t know she was blind. She always stood very tall, neck long, her dark hair pulled off her face with only a few strands of grey coming in at the corners.
“Well, Mama, it’s your birthday and I have,” I said, brushing back her hair. I looked over at my father who was watching us with a wry smile on his face, a few crumbs caught in his greying beard.
“You’re a good woman, Luisa,” Papa said. I gestured to his beard and he wiped the crumbs off. He continued, “But you shouldn’t be spending so much on your mother and I.”
“Are you jealous, Papa?” I asked wryly, getting up and pouring them both another cup of coffee. “I’m sure she will let you use it when she’s not.” He quickly put his warm hand over mine and looked at me with gentle eyes, the kind of look that made my heart bleed when I realized how close I was to losing this man.
“I always like it when you read to me,” he said. “I am happy with that. When you were younger you used to make up stories. Crazy little stories about trolls and goblins and princesses with swords. Do you remember that?”