Maria

Kelly and I were down in the basement of the old post office where we used to sit and drink bad coffee during the war and then better coffee after the war.

“What bus were you trying to take?” she asked.

“California, at Addison, in front of the Comed building.”

“Good spot.”

I took a sip of coffee and lit a cigarette and remembered how Elena used to look, coming up from the river with a pale of water, the way her skirt blew in the wind and wondered if she ever made it to Lausanne.

“The bus passed me by and I had to call a Lyft. Then my driver came, Maria, and brought me home to her family and made me seafood soup, just like Arturo used to do in Spain before the war.”

“Are you the new dad to Marias kids?” Kelly asked me, putting out her cigarette.

“Turns out she used to be a chef back in Mexico, only at home she made it with fresh seafood from the river.”

“What the fuck am I supposed to believe you?”

I lit a cigarette.

“I’m going back next week to learn how to make tacos by hand. Tortillas I mean” I said.

“WHICH IS IT?” she shouted.

“Tortillas” I said. “I misspoke.”

“Maria looked at my hands and said, you have wonderful hands, you would be good at kneeding the masa, or modeling things with your hands.”

“Kneading” Kelly said.

“Right, kneading.”

We sat for a moment and I tried to blow smoke rings but the fan was blowing and it was too hot down there in the basement of the post office to turn off the fan and blow smoke rings.

“And then she started to undress.” And I said “Maria, but what about your family?”

“Te necesito” she whispered in my ear and we made love and we laid on the bed quietly and felt full in our hearts.