Others Words for Love
Carnie had gotten used to the Mexican workers that worked in the fields beside her house. She had learned that the fence separating her world and theirs was much larger than just a few wooden posts nailed into the ground. It was fine that way. She had her place just as they had theirs. But suddenly someone jumps over the fence and doesn't just land in her backyard. He lands in her heart, too.
"Hey Mom," I saunter into the room nonchalantly. "Whatcha doin'?"
"Oh hi sweetie," Mom smiles wearily. "I'm looking for something I think I lost. It's nothing, though. I'll find it eventually."
I wonder if there was something that guy didn't tell me. He took money after all, the little creep!
"What is it? I mean, what exactly did you lose?" I ask.
"It's really nothing. Just some papers. I'll find them sooner or later, and it's not that important."
I sigh, deeply relieved that it's only papers.
I'm about to walk out of the room when I see someone jump over the fence in our backyard. My mother has her back to the window, and I'm pretty sure it's the guy who broke in last night.
"I think I just saw Tabby scratching to get in. I'm going to go out and look for her," I lie. "I'll tell you if I see any papers lying around."
I run across our large backyard, thankful I have sneakers on. My new friend is waiting at the fence. Before he can open his mouth, I start yelling.
"What do you think you're doing here! Are you trying to get me in trouble? Jump back over that fence and I'll meet you down the road." Then I turn and start walking around. He grabs my hand.
"Wait," he says. I notice his hand is rough and callused, just like Miguel's was eleven years ago. I stare at it quizzically, wondering how it got that way. He notices my staring and pulls it away from mine.
I take a careful glance to my house. My mother is standing in the window watching us.
"Do you see that? She saw us! I have to go. I'll meet you soon, but don't come here!" I walk away, leaving him standing rejected.
My mother is waiting for me at the back door.
"Carnie, who is that boy you were talking to?"
"I don't know his name," I answer, at least telling the truth. I start walking toward the front door. She follows me.
"Why were you talking to him? Have you talked to him before?" She looks worried about something, but I don't understand why.
"No," I lie. "I was looking for Tabby and he jumped over the fence, so I went out to tell him to get off our property. That's it."
"Okay," my mother says warily, not quite believing my story. "If it ever happens again, get me. He could be dangerous."
I wonder what she would say if I told her that he broke in last night.
"I'm going to bike to Mandy's house, okay?"
"Okay," my mother agrees as I grab my purse and open the front door. "Just wear your helmet and watch out for-" I shut the door before she can finish her sentence.
"Cars," I whisper, and walk to the garage to get my bike. Putting on my helmet, I pedal quickly down our long driveway, grateful that the trees block the road from our house and don't allow my mother to see that I am turning right and not left, the way I would go if I were actually going to Mandy's house.
In all my fifteen years of living, I've never gone right. It's just a dead end, or at least that's what the sign beside our house says. I don't know where you go if you ignore it and continue on down the road. I don't really know why I don't know, since you'd think one time or another I would have ventured down the road a little farther. I've never thought about it until now.
The pavement quickly turns into dirt and I begin to see the beat up pick up trucks that go by our house each morning and night lining the road. When I was younger, I used to think that they were a parade, but now I barely notice them anymore.
As the trucks multiply, so do the people. Hundreds of them, each one tanned and sunburned and appearing so much older than they really are. They stare at me with wide eyes as if I'm some strange alien that's just recently landed from Mars.
I've always thought that only men work here, but now I realize that there are women and even some children.
The children really stare at me. Or at least at my bike. I imagine this is how the Native Americans looked when they first encountered horses. Complete disbelief.
Now I really want to know what goes on here. Is this like a modern day plantation or something? I can't believe I've never thought about it before. I've been so selfishly immersed in my own life to worry about what lies beyond the fields and where the road leads to.
As I round the bend, I feel like I'm getting closer to the truth, whatever that means. My heart starts pounding, and I wonder if it was such a good idea coming here after all.
I see a building. It's the back of a fairly small one story building with metal siding. It looks industrial. The dirt turns into pavement again. I squint. Is that a sign? And a parking lot?
The sign reads, 'Bruce's Market'.
I've heard of Bruce's Market. I've never been there, or known where it was. I can't believe I've been living by a farmer's market my whole life and not known it! For some reason, I'm mad about not knowing this. Maybe it's because no one ever bothered to tell me, which is strange, because it's not that interesting. Why do we never go here?
I ride into the parking lot and put my bike in a bike stand out front. I've stopped getting strange looks from the workers. Now they just glaze over me and my bike as if we didn't exist. How strange.
I don't go in. It's probably just like a regular old market. Instead, I look around for a worker who looks like he might speak English. I spot a guy a few years older than me who doesn't look like he's totally Mexican. He's talking to a man about my parents' age. The man looks familiar. I realize it's Miguel. I run over to them.
"Hi," I say. They stare at me. Miguel especially.
"Hey," he says. "You're Carnie, aren't you? God, I only recognize you because you look so much like your mother."
"Yeah," I say. "That sort of why I'm here." I'm technically here to find the guy that broke in, but I want to find him to find out about Miguel, but I already found Miguel so I guess that works, too. I take a deep breath. "I've been thinking about what you said to me that first time we met. You said you knew my mother?"