The walls of the Manhattan apartment had been repainted many times. They were bubbled and uneven. Here and there their surfaces had cracked, revealing the colors of decades past.
“Can I get you anything, Mom?” her son had asked her earlier, popping his head into the bedroom.
“Uh, no thanks.”
The night passed.
She heard an explosive sound in the street below. She rose and looked out the open window. Men were revving car engines laughing and shouting in Spanish.
There was nothing to be done, her son had told her.
“But how can the other people go to work the next morning?” she asked him.
He looked at her blankly.
She had forgotten about the noises in the city.
She had been living in Florida for decades.
Then, one day her son announced that he wanted to go to college in New York.
Or was it she that had urged him to go?
He had never seen snow or ridden the subway. He had spent his childhood playing baseball and soccer in open sunny fields and sleeping soundly through the night.
She slammed the window shut.
But soon the unbearable August heat made her open it again and the agitated sounds floated up to the apartment.
There would be no sleep tonight.
She wondered if Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria were as raucous.
The image of camels and donkeys battling it out with overladen trucks and 1930’s black Fords lulled her into a state of drowsiness and then, suddenly she was startled awake by an echoing “Mira! Mira!”
She had not heard the phrase since her family had left Brooklyn many years ago.
Their apartment overlooked a narrow concrete back yard where slender fern-like trees grew between the cracks in the pavement.
Her father’s work carried them to a better neighborhood and then to a house in New Jersey.
And yet, here she was, right where she began.
It would soon be dawn.
Recent events raced through her mind. She recalled how she had fallen into her daughter’s arms upon returning from the courthouse.
“It’s over,” she had said.
She knew that when she returned down south, troubled times awaited her.
But now, she told herself, she must focus on the task at hand,
“What time are we visiting the school?” she asked her son.