Leticia and I have quiet agreements.
She glides, like a ray patrolling the reef, graceful, steady, her daily rounds. She has her stops, a pattern to follow.
At the same point in each morning, she pokes her head in the door, makes bright eye contact, and smiles.
Without saying a word, only raising her arms and eyebrows, she asks.
Yes, please, today.
She is steady of hand and sturdy afoot, with her silverware and dishes. She moves with certainty. And is always accurate with her bookkeeping.
How much is left from before please
I know it’s 26. But it’s been 11 days since I’ve seen her so want to double check that we’re on the same page.
As expected, she knows the score.
She departs silently but I know she’ll be back.
Many things happen in between. A’s water bottle spills into A’s cubby and he mops it up. A fifth grader comes in to survey the crew about Overnight. The usual suspect breaks wind, yet again. They all know it’s him, yet again, but rather than disdain, it’s giggles that spread, yet again. It’s funny, still funny, always funny.
She returns with her tray, this time loaded, for me. It’s a simple, predictable meal, but a ritual that fuels my afternoon. Tomato-rich jollof, fresh greens, crisp beets and carrots sliced just small, chicken with what everyone would agree is the right amount of pepper.
Red sauce, mild spice. Brown sauce, beads of sweat begin to form spice. Green sauce, take a break and sweat for the rest of your afternoon spice.
I mean, sweat more than your usual, normal, equatorial-sun is blindingly hot and humidity is off-the-charts sweat. To clarify.
She places it on the counter and I unwrap the thin layer of saran.
I stick with the red today.