The phone buzzes.
Mona sends $101 to her younger brother who needs new glasses.
He bought blue frames that sparkled against his brown eyes.
The phone rings and Mona turns back from the hallway, racing to catch the call in time.
Mona dispatches $50 to her younger sister so she gets new shoes for the first day of primary school.
Mona's sneakers are almost unremarkable. She leaves them outside her door. Her roommate Sarah exclaims, "But Mona, you aren't a guest!"
Walking down her Midwood street these days, Mona cradles a phone. She loves stepping across her shadow, feeling a sense of doubleness in one. The refurbished phone loses battery quickly. She senses someone is about to call and stares at the phone.
A text message arrives.
She sends $500 for her dad's medicines.
In the women who live at the shelter she works at, Mona sees her mother's face. Not quite the same shape or coloring, but a shared firmness of eyebrow and lip. As if holding a tension of shape could be an anchor, a security, a resistance. What we control in an uncontrollable world.
"How did you get a job here, Mona?" Tanya asks as they go over the day's computer lesson.
Mona almost says she meant to be an accountant. She meant to do something sensible. She meant to be responsible.
She only says, "I fell in love with the kids. How they are learning to say sorry even though no one has said that to them."
Her tongue lingers in this almost as a text message illuminates. She gazes down, immediately opens her banking app.
Mona transfers hundreds of dollars week by week: her mom is sick. The text messages storm. Her mom is very sick.
The medication controls the high blood pressure. Until it doesn't. Her mom often faints.
Mona's bank account thins. All these bodies, shrinking.
Should I take another job? Mona worries.
Her father says it's not too late to finish accounting school. What she should have done to begin with. Her father says it's not too late to be responsible. He requests another $500.
Her brother implies their father has been drinking.
And yet, better he take from her stash than theirs...
Mona sends the $452 she can, saving the remainder for rent. She waits to restock the groceries.
In January, she watches a six-year-old girl at the playground on the swing, reaching for sky. "Push mama, push," the girl yells, glee escaping from her sides, her pigtails flying.
Mona feels her phone shriek.
She cannot afford to return for the cremation. She sends her sister money for a white kameez.