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This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

  
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

  

Author:Junot Diaz
Language: eng
Format: mobi, epub
Publisher: Penguin Group
Published: 2012-09-11T04:00:00+00:00


FROM THE TOP OF WESTMINSTER, our main strip, you could see the thinnest sliver of ocean cresting the horizon to the east. My father had been shown that sight—the management showed everyone—but as he drove us in from JFK he didn’t stop to point it out. The ocean might have made us feel better, considering what else there was to see. London Terrace itself was a mess; half the buildings still needed their wiring and in the evening light these structures sprawled about like ships of brick that had run aground. Mud followed gravel everywhere and the grass, planted late in fall, poked out of the snow in dead tufts.

Each building has its own laundry room, Papi explained. Mami looked vaguely out of the snout of her parka and nodded. That’s wonderful, she said. I was watching the snow sift over itself, terrified, and my brother was cracking his knuckles. This was our first day in the States. The world was frozen solid.

Our apartment seemed huge to us. Rafa and I had a room to ourselves and the kitchen, with its refrigerator and stove, was about the size of our house on Sumner Welles. We didn’t stop shivering until Papi set the apartment temperature to about eighty. Beads of water gathered on the windows like bees and we had to wipe the glass to see outside. Rafa and I were stylish in our new clothes and we wanted out, but Papi told us to take off our boots and our parkas. He sat us down in front of the television, his arms lean and surprisingly hairy right up to the short-cut sleeves. He had just shown us how to flush the toilets, run the sinks, and start the shower.

This isn’t a slum, Papi began. I want you to treat everything around you with respect. I don’t want you throwing any of your garbage on the floor or on the street. I don’t want you going to the bathroom in the bushes.

Rafa nudged me. In Santo Domingo I’d pissed everywhere, and the first time Papi had seen me in action, whizzing on a street corner, on the night of his triumphant return, he had screamed, What in carajo are you doing?

Decent people live around here and that’s how we’re going to live. You’re Americans now. He had his Chivas Regal bottle on his knee.

After waiting a few seconds to show that yes, I’d digested everything he’d said, I asked, Can we go out now?

Why don’t you help me unpack? Mami suggested. Her hands were very still; usually they were fussing with a piece of paper, a sleeve, or each other.

We’ll just be out for a little while, I said. I got up and pulled on my boots. Had I known my father even a little I might not have turned my back on him. But I didn’t know him; he’d spent the last five years in the States working, and we’d spent the last five years in Santo Domingo waiting. He grabbed my ear and wrenched me back onto the couch.



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