One-thousand pesos a week.
For a job at a food stall in Mercado Imperial. I’ve never heard of this market and don’t know where it is. For sure it involves standing on my feet all day attending mean customers, which sounds so horrible.
When I arrived home a minute ago, Amá—my mamá—spew out the bad news and went to the kitchen. I froze in the living room.
Now, I smooth my dress and approach her. “Wh-why—” I clear my throat. “Why did you get me another job, Amá? I love the one I have.” The words float out of my mouth, like begging. I’m not.
Amá turns from the sink, wiping her hands on her apron. “Mil pesos will help pay the rent, Minerva.”
“Ay, Amá.” I brush hair from my eyes. “What about my current job at the laundry shop?”
“¿La lavandería?” She scoffs. “It only paid five hundred pesos a week.”
Paid, as if it were a thing of the past. But now that I ponder on it, maybe she quit on my behalf. “But this job’s around the corner,” I press on, unable to contain myself. “They let me do my homework while waiting for customers.”
She brings a finger to her lips. “You sisters are sleeping.”
“Sorry.” With all of this, I forgot it’s after ten p.m.
“I’ve already talked to the lavandería owner.” She wipes her hands on her apron. “You start your new job tomorrow.”
“That fast?” I ask, mostly to myself. “You didn’t let me say goodbye to my boss and co-workers.”
She shakes her head. “You can do that later.”
“But Amá!” I snap as my heart explodes in anger.
She slumps her shoulders. “I know, Minerva.”
I want to shout that she should’ve ask me first. Instead, I blurt, “Know what?”
“I know how you feel.” Amá peers at the bedroom in the back. “Do it for them.”
The twins—my little sisters. They … they’re a reminder of our precarious situation. Rent’s already a month behind, and then there’s food and other things. I wait for my heartbeat to normalize. Thump, thump, thump. Thump. Thump. There. “How far is Mercado Imperial?”
Amá shrugs. “Only diez kilómetros.”
Ten kilometers. “It’s too far away.”
She frowns. “Do you know how hard it was to get you this job?”
I curl my fingers into fists and don’t reply—don’t want to say something hurtful.
“Most teens can’t get a job at all.” She crosses her arms. “I asked a lot of people until I found Doña Caro.”
Amá’s doing this for us, as a family. She doesn’t deserve my anger. I uncurl my hands and relax my shoulders. “Doña Caro?”
“The food stall’s owner.” My mamá turns to the sink and opens the tap, as if done with the conversation.
Perhaps the new job will allow us to move to a bigger house in a better neighborhood, not that this subdivision is super horrible, but well, we don’t even have paved streets, sidewalks, or anything.