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“Hola Senorita Gonzales!” I said as I greeted the young women behind the counter.
“Hola Lucia, how was school today?” I pondered what we had learned that day. Music class was the highlight of my day. We were playing some big African drums and making different rhythms. I liked reading as long as I didn’t have to do it out loud, English words have some weird pronunciations. Math class on the other hand was my least favorite part of the day. Fifth grade was complicated. I felt too old to be in the elementary school and yet far too young to be included in the middle or high schools. And speaking of high school, I would have to leave the neighborhood and all my friends, including Senorita Gonzales, whom I’ve grown rather fond of over my years of visiting the corner market. I wasn’t about to tell her any of that, so I just responded with, “Same as always. Fractions are still giving me some trouble but I’m getting better.”
She beamed at me, “Ah Lucia that’s great. Soon you’ll have those fractions mastered and you will be a math wizard.” I asked her for two pastelillos and a giant cookie and handed her my money. I typically got food here after school because I didn’t each much for lunch at school. In my opinion, the school lunches were awful; I wouldn’t even feed them to my dog, Archie. Senorita Gonzales handed me a brown paper bag with my two pastelillos and another containing my cookie.
“Gracias” I said and I skipped off down the rows of food to the side of the market that had the tables. I took off my bookbag and sat it down on the ground next to me. As I sat and ate, I listened to the Spanish pop songs on the radio that was playing through the speakers. This market was a part of my everyday life, it was a safe haven. I waved hello at an old man who was carrying a basket of food. He was looking in the meat section, trying to select dinner for the night. I wished I had just a few more dollars so that I could bring some food home for my mama. She works so hard every day and I wish I could give her back just a little something. Maybe tomorrow I won’t by myself a lunch and that way I can save up my money to buy mama a nice piece of pork to make for dinner. She’d like that.
After I had finished my pastelillos, the beef ones of course (they’re the best), I opened the bag containing my cookie. It was a thick sugar cookie with a strawberry jelly on the center of the top. I took a bite and chewed the cookie and it’s sticky topping. I decided that I needed to go home and have some milk with my cookie, so I packed it back up and put it inside my bag. I grabbed my bag and headed to the front door. “Adios Senorita Gonzales, I won’t be here tomorrow because I want to save money to buy my mama something nice for dinner. I will have to save up a few days’ worth of lunch money to buy that piece of pork on the top shelf” I said pointing to the back wall of meat.
“Would you like me to save it until you are ready to buy it?” She asked me with a smile.
“I would love that, gracias! I will be here on Friday to buy it! I can’t wait until my mama sees it, she will be so happy!” I waved goodbye to Senorita Gonzales and stepped back out into the sunny March afternoon. I walked along the broken sidewalk, headed home. I loved my neighborhood. While every town has its downsides, they also have their positives. As the cars went whizzing by me, I thought of my math test tomorrow and how I was going to be a math wizard to solve those fractions.


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